“What even is Leadership Studies”
I swear, every time I tell a family member or friend outside the University of Richmond about my major in Leadership studies, the response is painfully predictable. The jokes that go with it are worse: “Oh you’re learning how to be the President!” “I didn’t know there were college majors for CEOs nowadays, ha!” And, to be frank, I don’t always know what to say when people do ask me what it’s all about, because there are so many different answers I could give. That’s why I really appreciate what Dr. Bezio said in her “Thinking Critically” podcast when she said that Leadership studies “teaches us how to think about different types of knowledge and knowledge acquisition, what we think of as the other “disciplines” in academia can serve the greater good… leadership studies isn’t there to give us the facts but it’s there to give us the tool kit to deal with the facts.” I think the differentiation of facts vs. toolkit for facts is really important and it gives me a much better way to explain what I’m studying. I’m not studying history, I’m learning how to think critically about history. I’m not in learning political science, I’m learning how to dissect and inspect the inner workings of politics.
I haven’t always been the biggest leader. I used to be absolutely terrified of making decisions and being the one to charge forward, but I thought that taking classes at Jepson would change that and teach me how to be this image of a “leader.” And, honestly? It hasn’t, or at least not in the way I expected. Instead, Jepson has taught me how to make decisions and charge forwards a different way, not by changing my mind and my way of thinking, but by expanding it. I pause when making decisions not because I’m unsure of myself but because I’m looking at all the different avenues, taking my time to make sure I choose the right one or the most effective one. I am now able to speak up against family members, not because Jepson somehow made me magically braver, but it taught me the tools and information to be able to stand up against people and make my argument.