A true leader dedicated to giving back and helping those that serve for our country, Tara Nicole is the perfect example of a selfless and humble person. She is a proud American student at Rider University that is ready to do more for their country. She is inspired by many and is doing an amazing job at inspiring others, and strives to influence people of all ages. Read this article on being proud to give back.
Being a leader on campus you motivate and encourage lots of people. What motivates you?
My favorite part about being involved on campus is watching things develop from behind the scenes. I get to watch other students, executive boards, clubs, and even small like-minded groups evolve and develop their own skills, strengths, and leadership attributes. It's nice to see the effects of the work I do and the time I put in, and it's very validating. Still, nothing beats watching a freshman lead a discussion with confidence, seeing a young executive board member take lead of a program they are excited and passionate about, or watching someone discover a passion for service they didn't know that they had. Being a part of that process of discovery and growth helps motivate me through the inevitable stress and setbacks that come with leadership roles.
You see yourself creating effective screening and training for men and women who plan to join the United States Military. Why is this so important to you?
I've known since high school I wanted to work for the military; treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and providing grief counseling to service personnel and their families. Going into my freshman year I was discovering a strong passion for advocacy in a number of areas, and this included my career goals. Since then I've come to believe that my individual skills might mean I can do more for our men and women in uniform before they set boots to the ground than I can do for them after they come home. While my vision of what role I can play and what I can contribute may continue to evolve over the years, I strongly believe I will always feel this commitment to serve our nation's military.
Was there a person who inspired you to want to follow in his/her footsteps and work for the Department of Defense?
I have a unique and well-rounded point of view in relation to veterans' issues. Like many people I have family members who serve or have served, my fiancé recently returned home from his first deployment with the Army, I conduct independent research on veterans' issues, currently homelessness, and I often strongly consider joining the military following graduation. My multidisciplinary academic background and my personal passion for serving veterans will hopefully provide a diverse, creative, and open-minded perspective to problem solving. My background in community service and advocacy has given me a lot of experience in diligence, networking, effective communication, and making social issues relatable to the populations that have the power to effectively address them. I hope to bring all the benefits of my experience to whatever role I can fill for the Department of Defense.
You are an active member of numerous community services organizations. Explain what giving back means to you.
I started doing community service young with Girls Scouts of America because it was fun, and in high school I was involved with church based homeless outreach programs and school based community service groups. By the time I was invited to join the Bonner Scholars and discovered my place in the Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity, community service was very much a part of my identity. It's important for me to continue to be an active and contributing member of the communities I live and work in because we are all connected, and we will all face hardships and diversity in our lives. In the same breath we are all capable of improving the quality of life for others, for ourselves, for the nation and for the world at large. Alone I can't do much, but by working with others diligently and with an open mind, we can change a life, and even if it's only one, it's invaluable. Every organization I've been involved with has been irrevocably important to my growth and development as a person, as a citizen, as an activist, a student, a leader.
How do you manage your time efficiently?
I can't afford to spread my time equally because I risk decreasing the quality of my contribution across the board; something I learned the hard way. I have to prioritize my time and commitments, and that means knowing when I am spread too thin and allowing others to take up the reigns of a leadership position or project.
What has been the most rewarding moment for you at Rider?
While it can be difficult to pick one, I have to say the most rewarding moment for me at Rider wasn't an award, or doing community service, or working with a club or organization; it was teaching. I was asked to teach a module on homelessness in a Rider Sociology class.
Wow, awesome. Tell us what that was like.
I loved it, because I really got to experience what it was like to try and cultivate critical thought, broaden the images people envision when they think about the issue of homelessness, and learning how to effectively reach an audience. It was so rewarding because by giving me the opportunity, the faculty member showed a lot of confidence in my public speaking skills, in my knowledge on the subject matter, in my ability to meet the goals of an academic classroom, and to not only understand but meet the expectations of a professional lecturer. I was nervous at first, but afterward I had so much confidence and conviction in my ability and that is a greater tribute to Rider's faculty and opportunities inside and outside the classroom then any thing else I can think of.
What is the best piece of advice you've heard while at Rider?
Question everything. Answers aren't important, but rather the quality of the question and the process of thought people go through to reach an answer. My mentor in my fraternity gave me this piece of advice, and it constantly reminds me to be diligent in rediscovering the world around me. I think this is a piece of advice I hope to not only keep in the forefront of my mind throughout my life, but to also share it with others.