During the holiday seasons of 2019, I was, for the very first time, spending my break in a town that’s over one thousand kilometers away from home – Accra, Ghana. Like many had advised, I had made it a point to enjoy every bit of the experience. I had planned to get lost (literally), meet new people, try new food. Long story short, during this “adventure,” I met and bonded with Debbie. She was, at the time, President of the International Students’ Association at Ashesi (ISA).

Meeting Debbie was a wonder. She talked much about the experience, opportunities, and friends she had made as ISA President. More importantly, she encouraged me to run for the position when the opportunity presented itself. Two years after this conversation, I was elected to serve as the association’s President and represent the International Community on the Ashesi Students Council’s executive team.

Today, after a year of service, I step down from both positions and welcome a new student leadership.

Serving as ISA’s President, I worked with four other students from three countries to represent the interest of over 230 students from across 30+ countries. Undoubtedly, occupying this office was a privilege. And although it was considerably challenging, it was equally enriching.

As the President, I spent at least 9 hours each week attending executive meetings, responding to concerns from the community, or developing projects to promote and appreciate diversity on campus. At some point, I questioned why I was doing it and even considered resigning from both leadership positions. In hindsight, I am glad I didn’t leave.

The experience taught me some precious lessons. Lessons that I hope will inspire prospective student leaders and shape current student leaders’ leadership styles.

Lesson 1: Communication is Key

Of all the things I learn as the President of our community, proper communication stands out to be the most impactful. Being a student leader, my ability to communicate effectively with superiors, colleagues, and other people was crucial.

As the ISA President, I acted as the bridge between students in the international community, the Ashesi Students Council, and the school’s administration. I often had to convey critical information from one party to the other. I had to pay close attention to my choice of words and the tone of every email I sent. I had to learn how to be clear and concise.

Lesson 2: Documentation is Extremely Important

The importance of proper documentation cannot be overstated. Documentation can help you keep track of valuable information, tasks, concerns, and more importantly, save a lot of time.

Without proper documentation, it will be easier for you to get caught up in a problem. It is important for you and your team to have a central platform that can be used as an inference whenever there is a need. Because in the professional world, if it is not written, it never happened.

Lastly, proper documentation will help you keep track of your progress and your achievements as a student leader. This will come in handy when writing your end-of-term report.

Lesson 3: Be Confident and Bold

While planning for a major project, one of the school’s staff began having doubts about our ability to see it through. We were just a few days to the launch of the event. Yet, the actions of key students involved in the project started nurturing uncertainty for some reason.

It was so unsettling that talks about canceling the event came up during our meeting. Of course, this would have been heartbreaking for my team and me. I had invested several hours into planning, and I didn’t want to see it just go down the drain. So I took it upon myself to reassure the school staff about seeing the project through. I told them, “I will make this event happen.”

Shortly after the call, I had conversations with each student involved in a bid to clearly communicate our expectations and their roles in the event. I followed up with everyone who had concerns and reassured them of the event happening. When the d-day came, we had a massive turnout and an overwhelming engagement from the entire community. It was a big win for us all. I was bold and confident about making it happen.

To conclude, as a student leader, it is certain you would make mistakes or run into trouble. When this happens, don’t go hard on yourself. Acknowledge your errors and learn from them.

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

John Kennedy

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  1. It was a nice read Clement and as a previous student leader back in my undergrad days, I can attest that the aforementioned are indeed vital skills to watch out for when you have such a responsibility. Kudos to you for a successful term.

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