The role of a student leader in their community


Pride, passion, influence, responsibility, inspiration and collaboration.

Throughout my life, I have acquired and learned the value of these six pillars of leadership. They have always been an asset to my motivation and enthusiasm to be a successful leader, and once again they are the most valuable to me. Further, these pillars, along with many others, are important to the significance of the role of student leaders in service to their community.

These leadership characteristics allow for structure and fixed purpose in service and are a way to hold ourselves and other peer leaders accountable. I believe that to meet the needs of a community, the “why” must be present to the leaders. Understanding and recognizing the importance of these pillars is a crucial step in achieving this. Likewise, these specific needs cannot be met effectively if student leaders are not held and do not hold others accountable to their potential; we get the most out of the service when we invest one hundred percent in it.

As student leaders, we recognize that there is more to leadership than leadership. We listen, step in when we’re not comfortable, and take on tough tasks. We all have the drive to create something positive and great for ourselves and others, especially when it involves the community.

Given this opportunity, our goal is to create an overwhelming sense of culture and inclusion.

Coming out of a turbulent time of social distancing, quarantine and online learning, it is now more important than ever to promote a positive and inclusive culture. The pandemic has forced us all, children and adults, to adapt to a new way of life and for some this has also meant having an impact on mental health. Anxiety, fear, and worry about being cut off from in-person contact, the health of loved ones, and how they would navigate an online world were present during this time.

The social connection people shared was lost as we started to get used to living in our own world, 6 feet from everyone else. We were quickly thrust back into the hectic reality of an in-person world, except some of us weren’t ready for the flashback. The pandemic has affected us all in one way or another, most of us negatively. However, these impacts did not simply dissipate when we returned to “normal”. In fact, the decline in mental health due to the pandemic is still visible, which is why we must come together and support each other during this confusing and complicated time.

Everyone deserves to know that they are part of a positive, supportive, and inclusive culture where their mental and social well-being is supported and they can be part of it. It is our job as student leaders to retain and sustain this balance; communities need to support each other as we all move through life one step at a time, together.

This year, Highlands Ranch High School had the chance to bring communities together in a positive way through the Relay for Life fundraising event, created by the American Cancer Society (ACS). This event focuses on celebrating, honoring and remembering those who have been touched by cancer; cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, volunteers and community members are invited to participate. Funds raised through this event directly support life-changing research, around-the-clock support for cancer patients, and access to many other essential resources. I encourage you to visit the link below to gather more information or get involved in this powerful event!

After undertaking a profound event, student leaders and councils before, during, and after the process tend to ponder “why.” I have already mentioned this idea, but I want to develop it further. This one word, powerful on its own, stands as food for thought when considering managing effective systems and serving others. Leaders must know and understand the purpose of everything they do because without purpose there is no passion.

The “why” to assume Relay for Life, for example, is simple. We strive to meet the needs of our community, to bring people together, to celebrate people with cancer and those who care for cancer patients, and to continually support the demands met to defeat cancer. Knowing why helps us and the participants get the most out of the whole experience; it serves as motivation.

Student leaders cannot effectively serve themselves and the community without drive, motivation, and purpose, all of which are supported by the six pillars with which leaders associate themselves. Leaders should take pride in their community, have passion for the cause they champion, have a positive influence on those around them, take responsibility for their actions and take the lead, inspire and be inspired by their community, and finally, student leaders must work together to create a strong legacy that people will remember.

Link to Douglas County Schools Relay For Life
Relay For Life information and registration:

Kat Tomlin is currently a student at Highlands Ranch High School. She is a class representative in HRHS and a state representative in CHSAA. Through her role as CHSAA State Representative, Kat represents students in Colorado. Beyond high school, Kat looks forward to majoring in early childhood education, with a minor in psychology. She also hopes to race track at the Division II level.

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