The Course of Masters

“Heeded my words not, did you? Pass on what you have learned. Strength, mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.” — Master Yoda


I would like to open this article by saying that I loved "Star Wars: The Last Jedi." It subverted my expectations in the best way possible, leaving the door wide open for an interesting sequel, while unceremoniously striking down tired, worn out tropes in the "Star Wars" franchise that have been beaten to death by not only the two previous movie trilogies, but the various "Star Wars" media that exploded around the property. 


But today, I would like to disseminate a quote Yoda said in "The Last Jedi," and the connection I have with it. As a graduating senior who is either in the process of passing on his leadership roles to the next generation or is in the process of doing so, the notion of masters being what their followers grow beyond resonates with me, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. True, it's nice to have today be your moment, but just because your time might be in the past, doesn't mean that time never happened, and there definitely is a lot of pride knowing something you were a part of outlived your time.


Since coming to MCLA, I have founded two clubs, and have passed the torch multiple times. The first instance was MCLA's Film Club, which I founded and left after serving as President for almost two years. Film Club is, to my knowledge, hanging by a thread, and it got there through drama, infighting, and a lack of focus, but I learned many lessons running my first club, the first being that you need to put the needs of the club above your own professional needs. You also need a group of people passionate in what you are doing, and at this college, the interest was never there to effectively support a club of that nature, hence it remained small even after I bowed out. 


The Beacon and Her Campus were different stories entirely, however. With The Beacon, I stepped into the role of editor after serving years on the paper's editorial board, and I entered with real-life newsroom experience. I knew what worked and what didn't work for a weekly college newspaper, and I had an entire list of action items for how to make the paper better, most of which I accomplished. I left the position of editor with a Hardman Scholarship and the feeling of having accomplished everything that I wanted to, and thus, I had no reason to serve as editor again; instead, I opted to be the paper's Contributing Editor, and when it was clear we wouldn't have anybody to manage the Features section, I took that on instead to insure that the section was managed well.  I came into Her Campus very reluctantly. When I was approached by representatives from Her Campus Media, the publication was absent on campus for a whole year, but its spot was filled by The Odyssey, a publication very similar to Her Campus. However, the spring I was editor of The Beacon, MCLA's chapter of The Odyssey folded, leaving its entire staff without a home. I was approaching senior year, and I waited just about as long as I could until it was clear no one else was going to restart the chapter (though there was a lot of interest), before I decided to take on that initiative. 


It wasn't easy, and towards the beginning, there was a lot of people that committed to positions, only to drop them a week later, which was discouraging, but at the end of the Fall semester, Her Campus had a strong core team of editors, writers, and others who filled various roles, and I was comfortable passing on the leadership mantle on to a new set of hands, while remaining involved as the chapter's Senior Editor. With elections for next fall's positions concluded, the torch will be passed again. 


In each of these examples, I was able to watch the club move on, and with college clubs like these, change is necessary. When you stay in a position of leadership for too long, especially in a collegiate club, you can fall into a rut, your passions drained, and when you aren't passionate about your club as the leader, it does rub off on everyone below you. College clubs, in my opinion, should be open to change, and as the climate of MCLA changes, they should adapt. One of the hardest decisions a leader can make is to step down in order to let someone else with renewed passions and fresh ideas take the lead.