Visionary Leadership—Applied

State Summits offer National Honor Society (NHS) and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) members hands-on experiential leadership development. They are designed to unlock the potential of participating students by providing a shared space to learn, grow, and explore ideas together. Back in October 2019, we asked students to provide their own report of the September 12 Arizona State Summit. Now, those students provide a follow-up account of how they applied the lessons they learned. Read the first blog from this author here


At the Arizona State Summit in September, my peers and I were given the opportunity to more deeply explore the NHS pillars. We looked at leadership by identifying the skills that are embodied by those who effectively spearhead causes, and we studied service by identifying areas where we feel change needs to be made. In addition, when we looked at character, we analyzed what success and failure mean to each of us, and how we can learn from behaviors that led us to either result. In the months since the summit, I’ve seen how what I learned has guided my experience of NHS—my role in my school’s chapter, the success of our meetings, and our impact on the community.

Soon after the Arizona State Summit, the elections for chapter positions were held at my school. I saw how a leadership role could allow me to share my passion for making positive change within my community, and, inspired by this possibility, I chose to run for vice president of my school’s NHS chapter. I was granted the opportunity to help lead my chapter and have since helped meetings go in a positive direction so that we are creating opportunities to serve. This next semester, I intend to extend my role beyond our NHS meetings by reaching out to members. I can help them find academic support as needed, as well as sustained service opportunities in their communities outside of school. With service experiences that are consistent, they will able to serve beyond just the minimum to have a greater impact.

While I’m excited to explore work outside of our meetings, I think meetings can be improved by incorporating the engaging activities I was introduced to at the summit. I loved how the presenters had us collect ideas on sticky notes and place them in the center of the table, used pieces of string to help us become literally connected to each other, and listed thoughts on a big poster board. A great strength of the NHS meetings at my school is that, though brief, they are very streamlined and productive. However, I’d love to help create time for sharing the different creative service projects members are working on or academic successes they had. Through the different “mediums of idea sharing” I learned at the summit, I hope to help cultivate meetings that are productive for both our chapter as a whole and its individual members.

After careful deliberation on the merits of donating to organizations that have a local versus global impact, our chapter chose to donate our membership dues to Project CURE, a nonprofit that is dedicated to providing medical equipment and supplies to clinics and hospitals in underresourced communities throughout the world. In addition to this donation, our chapter will also be running the annual Arizona State Rubik’s Cube Competition, where students across the statehave the opportunity to strive for the fastest cube-solving times. Our school’s NHS chapter has been able to host this event for the past several years, and it’s a great local service opportunity. At our upcoming NHS meeting, I’m looking forward to brainstorming more ideas for service in areas that are important to our chapter members. Incorporating their values and interests into the community work we do will help generate enthusiasm for the projects and have a greater personal impact on each of our NHS members.

Having revisited what I learned at the Arizona State Summit, I can see that the inspiration I felt truly generated action. In the coming months, I’m excited to continue adding value to my chapter through my work as vice president, both within meetings and catching up with members outside of them. I’m also excited to make an effort to recognize the successes of chapter members within meetings and serve our community with the different projects we have planned. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to attend the summit, and I hope that I continue to see growth within myself and my chapter as a result of what I learned!

Drew Kolber is a student at The Gary K. Herberger Young Scholars Academy.

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