When I started at Carnegie Mellon, I thought I knew what leadership meant. It is not a particularly hard concept to understand, and I could recognize strong leaders from weak ones. I thought I'd know what would work and what to avoid if I ever found myself in a position of leadership. However, when I first became the captain of the CMU women’s varsity tennis team, I quickly found that the actual practice of leadership is so much more complex, nuanced, and unique than I had anticipated. After reflecting on past captains, I realized that each of them had their own strategies on how to get the best out of their teammates; and everyone invariably infuses their own personality in their leadership. Each strategy had its merits and disadvantages. Recognizing this was invaluable to my own growth as a leader, and I learned important lessons on what worked for me and my leadership style. Being a good leader is about being able to adapt and to learn from many varied situations, before being able to motivate, inspire change, and drive success. Luckily, there are strategies and habits of good leaders that are effective in this regard, and by being receptive and eager to learn, I internalized what worked for the past captains I've played with.
I am proud to be a part of what my tennis team has accomplished over the past four years. We have beaten CMU records, and finished nationally ranked amongst the stiffest competition. This year the team beat Amherst College for the first time in CMU's history—a great milestone for our
tennis program. I attribute our success largely to the unity and focus of our team, something I
first hoped to establish when I became captain. It certainly helped to have such amazing players
on my team who were willing and committed to growing with me and as a team.
Team building revolves around creating specific goals, and maintaining the desire and
determination to achieve them. I had to lead by example, and demonstrating my own
commitment and hard work was foundational to the unity and effectiveness of the team. It is
impossible to have everyone commit to our success if I am not personally committed as well. I
hope that my time as a leader on campus has reinforced in my teammates that hard work and
dedication certainly pays off in the long run.
I leaned on great leaders throughout my time here, and I am thankful I had the opportunities to
work with the amazing coaching staff and faculty at CMU. I am forever grateful for the guidance
this community has provided for me, and so I work to give back to the community. By being
open minded and eager to learn I have excelled in both academics and athletics, and learned
important lessons in leadership. Inspiring this open mindset with those that I work with is, in my
opinion, my greatest contribution as a leader at CMU.