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How To Lead by Example

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Transitioning from high school to university can be uncomfortable and even scary. How do you make friends? Who do you look to for guidance? Where do you belong? These were the same existential questions that plagued Chelsea Young in her first year at Florida State University (FSU).

Chelsea Young, senior at FSU
Original photo by Ariana White

In her words, “I hadn’t yet found my voice. I knew that I wanted to find a community at FSU, but I wasn’t sure how to do that without a support system.” Chelsea was a shy freshman in the history major at a university with over 30,000 students on campus. She joined the Bryan Hall Living Learning Community (LLC), where her Resident Assistant introduced her to many new people and many new student organizations and programs, including the Freshman Leadership Institute (FLI). FLI teaches first-year college students all about different leadership styles and techniques and is what helped Chelsea fully realize her personal leadership philosophy: “Be empathetic and understanding before all else.”

“Be empathetic and understanding before all else.”

This philosophy followed Chelsea throughout her entire college career. Although FLI and the Bryan Hall LLC helped her make a few new friendships, these programs are not where Chelsea found her home at FSU. In Fall 2019, she joined the Student Conduct Board and eventually even became the co-chair. The Student Conduct Board is an educational program designed to hold their peers accountable for upholding the Student Conduct Code. Chelsea emphasizes the educational part of the Board. Her goal is never to be punitive toward the students who need the help of the Board, but instead to actually help them. Chelsea said, “Many times, students who are coming to the Student Conduct Board just need someone to listen. For many, it is their first time in their life that they have been afforded individualized attention.”

Chelsea’s goal is to heal the individual, not only the situation at hand. Her kind personality and personal philosophy to be empathetic shine throughout her involvement with the Board. The Student Conduct Board is what gave Chelsea her voice back. Chelsea found not only a community with her Board but a leadership position. Her position with the Student Conduct Board helped her to recognize that being a positive role model on campus and supporting the communities around her is what helped her to thrive.

In her senior year at FSU, Chelsea became a Resident Assistant and an Honors Colloquium Leader. Chelsea is responsible for creating her own curriculum, grading students in her Honors Colloquium and helping her residents with any housing issues. In both of these roles, she is also responsible for guiding over 80 first-year students to find their own voice and community at FSU. She navigates this tremendous task by continuing to be empathetic and understanding. Whenever one of her freshman mentees has a crisis or falls behind on their work, Chelsea listens. She makes sure they have the attention and the resources to succeed.

When asked if she felt that as though her efforts to foster community and help these first-year students are being accomplished, Chelsea answered, “That’s not really up to me to decide. I can’t answer that question because my success will be determined by the lives I have touched. I will have succeeded if the students who come to the Student Conduct Board grow and learn from their mistakes, if the first-year students I’m teaching in the Honors Colloquium go off to do good things and if my residents learn how to be empathetic. If the people I am trying to help learn to be empathetic, if they benefit from my understanding, then I will know that I have done well.”

Chelsea Young is leaving a legacy of empathy.

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Ariana White is a Tallahassee native and first-generation college student majoring in Editing, Writing and Media with a minor in Museum Studies and Public Administration at The Florida State University. She is passionate about food justice, women’s rights, arts & culture, and local politics. Ariana has been a staff writer for Her Campus at FSU since January 2021. She has written 20+ articles during her time as a staff writer and leads the column on food sustainability.