Our second spotlight for September is William K. Holley, IV a graduate of DeKalb Early College Academy (2016) and currently a computer science senior at Georgia State University. He has served as 21CL Youth Ambassador and regularly volunteers with many organizations including 21st Century Leaders. William has also worked our summer leadership team for our summer leadership institutes in 2018 and 2019. In his post, William shares how 21CL facilitated him to understand the power of diversity and shaped his leadership style.

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now.

I am a Computer Science senior at Georgia State University. I am also the Digital Editor of The Signal (the official student newspaper of Georgia State University) and a Cartoon Network Digital QA Intern.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

Participating in 21CL through student programs and leadership roles gave me the experience, knowledge, and confidence necessary to sculpt my current and future self.

And how did 21CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of professionalism, etc. What skills/tools/perspectives have helped you along the way?

Every exercise, conversation, and interaction with 21CL is designed to prepare you for professional world. Easily the most impactful skill/tool/perspective was that of social interaction. One’s ability to deliver a message accurately, passionately, and with respect is translatable to every situation in life.

Which programs did you participate in, and when? What skills did you gain or improve through those programs?

I participated in the summer institutes including, Turner Voices Youth Media Institute in 2014 during my tenure as a student member of 21CL. I also served as a Youth Ambassador from 2014-2016 during the school years and attended the school-year leadership summits and service projects. My ability to communicate a clear and concise message was definitely improved the most through those programs and opportunities.

What was a memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

The most memorable moment in 21CL was definitely winning the Turner Voices Youth Media Institute (now YMI) program in 2014. I was in a state of awe and was not expecting to then present the pitch on stage in front of about 120 people.

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? if so how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

Absolutely. From the day you begin your journey with 21CL you will witness firsthand how diverse this world truly is. People from all walks of life come together with a centralized goal to lead in their schools, communities, social lives, and professions. Understanding the power of diversity and how it makes us stronger as a unit is easily the greatest way 21CL assisted me in developing my leadership style. I no longer go into situations thinking just of myself, but now of who I am, who I represent, and how I can make a positive impact on everyone.