Alumni Spotlight: Natasha Walker

Natasha Walker, 21CL Alumna

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”default” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]21CL Alumni Spotlight: Natasha Walker[/fusion_title][fusion_imageframe lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”none” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”left” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] 21CL Alumna Natasha Walker, Class of 2012[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text]Natasha Walker participated in two summer leadership institutes in high school. She attended EarthCare at Berry College in 2009 and the Summer Leadership Institute at Georgia Southern University in 2010. She also attended 21CL events throughout the year, such as the Winter Leadership Weekend, Fall Rally Day and the Fall Leadership Summit.

In 2016, Natasha joined the Summer Leadership Team as a returning alumna and shared her experience with the current students. She works at Turner and regularly volunteers with Marietta YELLS. She graduated from Marietta High School in 2012 and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from Auburn University in 2016.

How did participating in 21CL change you and/or lead you to where you are now?

21st Century Leaders was my first exposure to professionalism and networking. I’ve been able to build my network on LinkedIn since high school. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but some of my peers are just now learning about it. Through 21st Century Leaders I was also exposed to companies and business partners I could one day work for. In fact, now I’m employed at Turner.

What was your most memorable moment in 21CL? 

I enjoyed the ropes course at EarthCare, speaking at the closing ceremony at EarthCare, and the case competition during the Winter Leadership Weekend (Goizueta Youth Leadership Summit). I had a great time as a student, but it wasn’t until I came back to work the summer leadership programs this past summer, in 2016, that I really felt impactful. It’s awesome to know that I can help some young leaders in the way that I was helped and to work alongside some of my former leaders as their peer.

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 tools or perspectives have helped you along the way?

21CL taught me that leaders aren’t born, they are made. You may be a great leader already, but there is always an opportunity for growth. As a student at Auburn University, I chose to not only excel academically, but also to be a part of change on my campus. I served as Administrative Vice President for the Black Student Union, as a Resident Assistant, an Ambassador for the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, an Orientation Leader for International Students and more. If it wasn’t for the strong foundation and practice with 21CL in high school, I wouldn’t have been allotted as many opportunities or as prepared to interview for those positions.

What’s something you’ve recently learned about leadership?

Leaders give back. As a young professional it’s easy to feel like you’re struggling to find your next move and the ways to grow in your current position, but strong leaders give back. It’s important to continue to create opportunities to meet new people in your field. I’ve met so many people simply by reaching out and they are usually willing to give me information about their positions and introduce me to other people I should meet who can help me grow as well. [/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]Thank you, Natasha, for sharing your leadership lessons and giving back to 21CL as a summer leadership team member! Here’s to more growth and being a part of change!

 

Alumni, check out the 21st Century Leaders Alumni group on LinkedIn for a summer photo from the archives.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Alumni Spotlight: Natalie Walker

Natalie Walker

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”default” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]21CL Alumni Spotlight: Natalie Walker[/fusion_title][fusion_imageframe lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”none” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”left” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] 21CL Alumna Natalie Walker, Class of 2012[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text]As a student, Natalie attended the Summer Leadership Institute at Georgia Southern University in 2009 and 2010, and EarthCare at Berry College in 2011, where she realized her passion for engineering during a session with Georgia Power volunteers. She graduated from Marietta High School in 2012 and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Supply Chain Management from Auburn University in 2016.

Natalie is now a Strategic Sourcing Analyst at Cox Enterprises and a regular volunteer with 21CL and other youth organizations.

 How did participating in 21CL change you and/or lead you to where you are now?

As an active high school student, I loved being involved in a variety of activities from being a three-sport Athlete, to leading my schools Air Force Junior ROTC as Group Commander, to leading my student body as a student council representative. 21CL taught me invaluable skills such as work-life balance and networking. Working with and connecting with so many professionals and peers really boosted my confidence and exposed me to different leadership principles, my personal strengths and weaknesses and exposed me to a diverse group of peers that forged in me a more global and forward thinking mindset.

 What was your most memorable moment in 21CL?  

My favorite experience as an Alumna would have to be connecting with professionals. While I was an intern for Cox Enterprises, I connected with Ed Roche from the 21CL Board of Directors and was able to attend Cox Day for the SYLI Networking dinner at Goizueta’s Business School. I had a great time meeting the program participants and talking to them about my experiences in college, about my course of study in Supply Chain Management and what I did as an intern at Cox Enterprises!

Which programs did you participate in? 

 My high school (Marietta High School) had a Youth Leadership Center so I was involved with the program’s school year initiatives as well as Summer Leadership Institutes! I attended three Summer Leadership Institutes and during my third summer as a 21st Century Leader (2011) I attended EarthCare, sponsored by Georgia Power. Many of the professionals were engineers and shared with us their experience, including how to conduct energy audits. I thought that was so cool that I pursed engineering as a major going into college.

How did 21CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of young professionalism, etc. What tools or perspectives do you have because of 21CL? 

One thing that I capitalized well on as a student leader was knowing my strengths and weaknesses and communicating those to my fellow student leaders. Networking and communication are key for any leader at any level and stage from college to a professional career. I used those skills to lead groups of students at Auburn University: (1) to raise funds for Flint Michigan & Children’s Miracle Network, (2) to engage in activities including physical and mental health initiatives as well as (3) inspire them to make a difference by seeking opportunities and engagements for the things they are passionate about and (4) to achieve their goals both inside and outside of the classroom. [/fusion_text][fusion_separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”” bottom_margin=”” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”” class=”” id=””/][fusion_text]Thank you, Natalie, for giving back to 21CL as a volunteer (you may have seen her at the 4th Annual Leaderboard at Eastlake Golf Outing or conducting student interviews for the 2017 summer leadership institutes, to name a few)! You are inspiring youth to lead, now and in the future![/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Alumni Spotlight: M. Jennifer Sonola

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_title size=”1″ content_align=”left” style_type=”default” sep_color=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” class=”” id=””]Meet M. Jennifer, 21CL Alumna![/fusion_title][fusion_imageframe lightbox=”no” gallery_id=”” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”none” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”left” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ animation_offset=”” hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text]It’s been almost nine summers since M. Jennifer Sonola attended her first 21CL event – G5 [Summer Youth Leadership Institute] at Emory University, and her pursuit of leadership has not waned since. A graduate of Campbell High School in Smyrna, Class of 2011, M. Jennifer went on to get her Bachelor of Science in Sales & Marketing from Xavier Univeristy of Louisiana in December 2015.

Now a young professional, M. Jennifer shares on how her time in 21CL prepared her for success in college and the workforce. 


How did participating in 21CL change you and/or lead you to where you are now?

Participating in 21CL tremendously helped to shape me into the leader I am today. I attended 2 camps (SYLI in 2009 and TVYMI in 2010) and I was on the Youth Advisory Board during the years of 2009-2011. There are many aspects of 21CL that I enjoyed, but I most enjoyed having an environment in which I was able to collaborate with other young leaders and implement the ideas that resulted from our teamwork.

The professional dress requirements, group projects and presentations that were facilitated during 21CL programs were the most helpful due to how often I utilize these skills in my day to day activities.

Also, having local professionals attend 21CL events in order for the youth to network with and serve as audience and panels during our presentations was extremely helpful to promote comfort and confidence.

What was your most memorable moment in 21CL?

My most memorable 21CL moment was during the Leadership Plugged-In Program [Turner Voices Youth Media Institute]. My team and I constructed a website and delivered an amazing presentation. During the Q & A of our presentation we were able to demonstrate the uniqueness of our website and answer all the questions the panel of judges had, and as a result, we won that activity for the program. For me this was such a memorable moment, because I was chosen by my peers to be the voice of the group, and to know that I represented our group successfully was a personal accomplishment. Also, being taught how to build a website at a summer camp is still uncommon in 2017; this just goes to show you the unique experiences available at 21CL.

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 tools or perspectives have helped you along the way?

My experiences at 21CL prepared me for college, as well as my professional career in many ways. The environment of the programs was very similar to my collegiate environment and it allowed me to see the importance of time management and priorities. I was also able to build some lifelong friendships that have also doubled as some great business relationships.

In this new era of professionalism, 21CL truly harnesses all the teachings that any young leader will need to navigate their way successfully.

What’s something you’ve recently learned about leadership?

I have learned that there is no prototype to a leader. If you are passionate about a specific area of focus, then you should take action; and no action is too small in the grand scheme of life!


M. Jennifer is a Corporate Buyer and Supply Chain Planner at “It Works!,” a health & wellness company in Palmetto, Florida and is pursuing her Master’s degree in Supply Chain at the Florida Institute of Technology. 

Thank you for sharing your experience and best wishes as you continue your leadership journey. The #21daysofleadership is coming to a close, but we encourage everyone to take action to connect, transform and inspire and make everyday a leadership day! 

Visit our 21CL Alumni Page[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Spirit of Leadership Awarded to Kathy Solley

Written by 21CL Youth Ambassador, Eric Mogaka, Morrow High School, Class of 2017

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21CL Board of Directors, Maria Flores-Blackburn presents the first "Spirit of Leadership Award" to Kathy Solley.
21CL Board of Directors, Maria Flores-Blackburn presents the first “Spirit of Leadership Award” to Kathy Solley.

Mrs. Kathy Solley, a long-time member on the 21st Century Leaders Board of Directors completed her final year in September 2017 on the board after many wonderful years. Recently, Mrs. Solley was awarded the first “Spirit of Leadership Award” at the Georgia Youth Leadership Awards. An award that truly embodies the spirit and passion of leadership. This award was created and chosen by the 21CL Board of Directors and was presented to Mrs. Solley by current board member and 21CL Alumni, Maria Flores-Blackburn.

It was my pleasure interviewing her and getting to know more about her and her experience serving on the board for 21st Century Leaders for over 20 years. In our interview she reflects on how her upbringing, educational background, and philanthropic service defines who she is.


Her Board History: When asked what accomplishments the board made since becoming a member, Mrs. Solley reminisced on the state of 21st Century Leaders when first founded (in 1991) and the vision of her fellow board members. The board of directors was not as formal as it is today, which you could expect from a growing organization, she asserted with laughter. With a new zeal, the board started meeting more frequently and decided maintaining a core vision of the organization is vital for the future of 21st Century Leaders, “moving in the direction of expanding our reach to as many high school students as we can”, she stated. 21st Century Leaders’ dynamic summer leadership institutes we see today are also a product of the actions of the board. She stated, that the board wanted to have summer institutes that each focused on a specific skills. Likewise, today 21st Century has three spectacular summer institutions with their own respective emphasis.

Her Massachusetts Background: Kathy Solley is from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her father was a lawyer and her mother was a homemaker. She is the oldest of four with two younger brothers and one younger sister. Her secondary schooling was done at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Central High School. After graduating she attended Wellesley College. She later transferred to Yale University after it became coed, becoming part of the first undergraduate class with females at Yale!

While there, the male to female ratio was 8:1. She joked with me about how it was sitting in a class full of males. In spite of the scarcity of females, she became close to a lot of fellow students and cherished those years. She graduated Yale with a Bachelor’s in English. After graduating, she became a Vista volunteer (Teach for America) in Galveston, Texas helping students obtain GED’s. She later went to law school at New York University, while working with small firms during law school. After graduating law school she worked for Pennsylvania and Power  & Light Company as a lawyer in the legal department for 7-8 years . She later became in-house counsel at RJR Nabisco, when the company moved to Atlanta in 1987. She has been in Atlanta ever since working as a partner for Nelson, Mullins, Scarborough & Riley.  Quite an impressive leader!

Fun Facts: She loves to travel and has been to the Galapagos Island (site where Charles Darwin did his work on evolution) and still actively plays tennis. In fact, her mother played until 90! Mrs. Solley also owns a lake house at Lake Lanier where she loves to swim, and is a proud grandmother.

Concluding our interview, I asked her what advice does she have for us millennials for the future ahead and the advice. “Be open to new people, to experiences, and new ideas, it’ll make you a bigger person.”

The efforts of Mrs. Solley has certainly helped 21st Century Leaders emerge as a reservoir of leadership it is today, bringing out the leader in thousands of high schoolers, as it did me, and grooming them into potential leaders of the future.

On behalf of 21st Century Leaders, thank you Mrs. Solley for all of the years you’ve served 21st Century Leaders, we wish the best for you. – Eric Mogaka, Morrow High School

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Alumni Spotlight: Jevan Huston

JevanHutsonToday’s action challenge in the #21Days of Leadership social media campaign is to highlight a past leader who has made a difference in your life and inspired you to become a leader.

Meet 21CL alum Jevan Hutson, whose inclusive leadership has made a major difference in his community and its members! He attended SYLI (formerly known as G5!) at Emory’s Goizueta Business School in 2011 and served on the 21CL Youth Executive Board (Youth Leadership Team) from 2011-2012.

In addition to inspiring his peers at 21CL programs, Jevan was the recipient of the 2011 Georgia Youth Leadership Awards for his leadership as the 2011-2012 school coordinator for Whitewater High School’s Pennies for Patients, which benefits The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Jevan was directly responsible for leading his peers at Whitewater to donate approximately $40,000 over two years, raising enough money to support an LLS-funded researcher for more than 9 months. Read more about current and past Georgia Youth Leadership Award winners here!
#21daysofLeadership #21CL #iamINSPIRED


How did participating in 21st Century Leaders change you and/or lead you to where you are now?

At such a critical juncture in becoming a future leader and citizen-scholar, 21CL granted me a deeper sense of self-value and a more robust confidence to assert and contest my opinions as well as to engage and collaborate with community and industry leaders.

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 tool and perspectives have helped you long the way?

First and foremost, 21CL provided me a unique platform for both conceptualizing and operationalizing my academic and professional goals, which was very much integral to my successful transition into undergraduate life at Cornell University. Reflecting back on my experiences in 21CL, particularly now as a Master’s student at Cornell and soon-to-be law student, I can safely say that the program’s focus on collaboration, relationship building and professional networking skills was key not only to my professional development — helping me garner numerous, prestigious internships (Research & Technology Intern at the Boeing Company) and research assistantships during my undergraduate tenure — but also to my successful career as a student leader and community advocate on campus.

What’s something you’ve recently learned about leadership?

Overall, my leadership and service to the Cornell community has taught me that true leadership is interdisciplinary and requires organization that is inclusive and nurturing of all stakeholders. I ground my own pursuit of public service and passion for equity in an ability to be highly self-aware and to engage a practice of conscious activism. I listen deeply to the communities I serve, so that I may center their needs ahead of my own presumptions and understandings. While my own tenacity, advocacy, and intellectual curiosity are valuable and unique, they do not exclude the incorporation of others’ skillsets and the necessity of coalition building. Through inclusive leadership and a recognition of the power of solidarity within the experience of injustice, I learned they are in fact an imperative toward that organization.


Jevan graduated in 2012 from Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Georgia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History of Art (2016) from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he is now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Information Science and guides students as a Teaching Assistant in “Personal Relationships and Technology” and “Information Ethics, Law, and Policy.” #iamINSPIRED

Alumni Spotlight: Britney Lovett

0c8f6fcWritten by Britney (Blackwell) Lovett, 21CL Alumni, Cox Communications

21st Century Leaders had a significant impact on my life in high school in several ways. I made so many new friends! I still talk to them even though it has been 7 years since we graduated from high school at Jonesboro High School in Clayton County. I gained an immense amount of knowledge about networking, teamwork and what it means to be a leader. 21CL I believe really gave me the tools to continue the same concepts in my professional career.

 

21CL exposed me to a career path I wouldn’t have originally considered. Before 21CL, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. After my experience, I was 100% certain I wanted to go to business school and become a businesswoman.

1910317_19452360939_7913_nMy most memorable moment in 21CL was the summer leadership institute, (SYLI @Goizueta) at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. My stay at Emory was a key point in my life because that is when I decided that when I graduated high school I wanted to go to business school. During my week long stay, I was exposed to what my life could be like in the future. I met a diverse group of business professionals. I was able to stay on the campus which exposed me to college life and I gained so much insight into the business world. The best part was that I was able to experience the whole thing with my friends.

Without a doubt I felt more prepared going into college and taking on leadership roles because of 21CL. I was able to gain some internship experience through the 21st Century Leaders’ Cartoon Network Closet internship program in 2008 while in high school. At went on to attend the University of Georgia, Terry College of Business, where I quickly took on leadership positions in different organizations because it felt natural at the time.

In 21CL, you are encouraged to step outside the box, to seek out opportunities and to help others. Servant Leadership is a term I remember well while in 21CL. I apply it in my everyday working life. In order to lead you must first serve. To make sure others needs are taken care of and not prioritizing your own needs first. I believe this has allowed me to make connections in the workforce. My professional career is doing well because of this mentality. Since graduating from college in 2012, I’ve been promoted twice in the company.

Going through the programs while in high school, I realized I was more analytical than I imagined. I had a passion for technology and the corporate world. For my very first job out of college the person interviewing me for the position happened to be on the board for 21CL and I do believe it was that connection and my skills that helped me land the job. I continue to work at a resource manager for a vendor company onsite at Cox Communications. I’m proud to say that I’ve been promoted twice in the past 3 years.  I thank 21st Century Leaders for inspiring me to become the leader I am today and to discover a career I’m passionate about!

Alumni Spotlight: Marcus Kernizan

profile picAt age 24, Marcus Kernizan is a 21st Century Leaders alumni, a graduate of Georgia State University, where he was the President of the SGA and received the highest leadership award during graduation, and is a recent hire as a consultant at Accenture, a 21CL corporate partner.

Marcus joined 21st Century Leaders in 2007 while in high school at Martin Luther King Jr. High School. It was through 21CL experiences that Marcus’ passion for leadership was forever changed. He says the leadership skills he learned and the professionals he met transformed him to take action at his own high school and ultimately become a strong leader during college and in his new career. As Marcus makes his leadership transition into the work force, we caught up with him about how 21CL shaped him as a leader.

 

“21st Century Leaders impacted my life in several ways in high school. By participating in the summer leadership institute, Oglethorpe and Leadership Unplugged: A CNN Experience (now Turner Voices Youth Media Institute), I was exposed to various professionals and careers in the media and news industry, which fueled my passion for leadership and on air broadcasting and video editing. And I was able to have a sit-down conversation with one of the company executives where I asked him plenty of questions about his career, and he was able to give me future career advice, ” Kernizan said. “The semester following that summer, I went back to my high school and started our first live morning news program. Looking back, my passion for technology probably wouldn’t have been so strong if I did not participate in this program.”

After his high school graduation in 2009, Marcus went on to attend Georgia State University where he took on leadership roles and received the highest leadership award at GSU’s graduation.

“Because of my experience with 21st Century Leaders, I felt very comfortable with getting involved in leadership positions in college such as serving as President of the Student Government Association at Georgia State University. During my term as President, many of the skills I acquired in 21st Century Leaders were put to use,” Kernizan said. “For example, when I attended dinners and luncheons with University faculty, staff, and city leaders, I used the etiquette skills that were taught in the program. Also I learned the fundamentals of public speaking while in 21CL, which I definitely put to use in college and now will in my career.”

Congratulations, Marcus on your leadership accomplishments thus far! We are proud to call you a 21st Century Leader.