If anyone embodies the University of Central Florida's creed of integrity, scholarship, community, creativity, and excellence, it is Lexie D. She is a twenty year old Legal Studies major who loves reading, writing, and watching classic movies. A self-proclaimed resident of Disney World, Lexie is extremely involved in campus life. Lexie is involved in the LEAD Scholars academy, which is a program for students committed to academic excellence and making a difference in the world around them. Within the program, Lexie is a peer mentor who assists new scholars. She is also on the Community Service Committee Leadership Board Member.
Lexie and I met when she was my peer mentor, and I immediately knew she was the epitome of a campus celebrity. Always at the ready to help others, she has an effervescent optimism both during class and meeting with other students. This past week, I had the opportunity to ask her questions about her volunteerism and leadership. Her insight on what a leader is and the passion behind her campus involvement was inspiring, and was honestly one of my favorite interviews of all time.
Her Campus UCF (HCUCF): Can you describe your involvement on campus with the LEAD Scholars program? What is the program about and how do you contribute?
Lexie D. (LD): The LEAD Scholars Academy is an organization on campus dedicated to helping young leaders grow and develop through the study of leadership theory and practice. Beyond that, however, LEAD Scholars is a community of caring, inspiring individuals that take initiative and enact some form of change through their service.
I’m currently one of twenty three peer mentors in the LEAD Scholars program. Some of my responsibilities include assisting a first-year LEAD Scholars class and helping freshman LEAD Scholars students get involved with LEAD and adapt to the collegiate transition. I plan different events, discussions, activities, and lessons for my mentees, and I’m basically the go-to person they can reach out to if they have any questions or concerns about anything. I also serve on the leadership board for two service committees through LEAD: the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and Special Olympics Florida’s Polar Plunge. I’m responsible for fundraising, event planning, marketing, and helping out our first year LEAD members.
HCUCF: What inspired you to start volunteering, and what motivates you to continue?
LD: I’ve always just really enjoyed helping people. I’m the oldest of four kids in my family, so I always helped out around the house, babysat, and did whatever my mom and dad couldn’t. As I got older, that helping role just sort of spilled into my extracurricular activities in school, so I started volunteering for causes I was really passionate about. I always wanted to help people. What motivates me more than anything to volunteer is knowing that somehow, in some way, I’m making an impact in someone else’s life.
HCUCF: How would you define a leader, and why do you think it is important to be one?
LD: A leader is someone who doesn’t do things for recognition or praise. They do something because it needs to be done—because there’s a greater purpose or cause behind their actions that ultimately helps people in need or changes the world for the better. It’s not just about what you do. It’s about whom you impact and the good that you bring with that impact.
I think it’s important to be a leader simply because the world needs leaders. We can’t innovate, grow, or function without leadership. That being said, however, you have to lead for the right reason and in the right way. It’s important to be a leader, but you can’t confuse leadership with oppression, unjust dominance, or misuse of power.
HCUCF: What is your favorite memory regarding your involvement on the UCF campus?
LD: It’s hard to pick one, but definitely what sticks out in my mind is the Luminaria Walk that we did for Relay for Life. All year long you know why you’re fundraising and why you’re getting people to donate for the cause, but in that moment and on this particular walk, you really feel it. That’s when you’re sure you’ve made a difference. You’re reminded of the loved ones who are still battling or who have lost their battle to Cancer. You see their faces in your head as you walk in silence alongside the illuminated paper lanterns. That night, I remembered by grandfather, who passed away from Leukemia seven years ago. I like to think he walked alongside me.
HCUCF: Do you have any advice for students looking to contribute in their communities? Any suggestions for aspiring leaders?
LD: First, don’t be afraid to act. If you want to better your community and take initiative, then do it. Follow your passions, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make a difference because they will always be wrong. Every action counts. You’ll be surprised by the impacts you can make with even the smallest of steps in the right direction.
Second, be yourself, not who others want you to be. You have just as much to contribute—if not more—being the person you are than you do being anyone else. Your values, opinions, and ideas matter, and so do you.
Third, stay honest and kind. The greatest strengths in life come from the support and camaraderie we find in each other. Don’t take yourself for granted, and don’t take others for granted.
Finally, believe in yourself. You can do this.