In addition to a strong record of providing an education that provides its students with the vital 21st-century skills they will need for future success, Marymount of Santa Barbara produces graduates who go on to various positions of leadership. The fact that Marymount helps its graduates feel prepared to lead is demonstrated best by some of its most recent graduates.
At the time of the writing of this article, Marymount graduates are in leadership positions at many high schools. Each has a different way of leading, but most of them trace their inspiration and confidence back to their experience at Marymount.
Lanea Pearson is student body president at Cate School in Carpinteria. In addition to student government, she is active in other areas of student life at Cate. She is captain of the girls’ varsity basketball team, plays varsity lacrosse, is a tour guide and serves as a teacher’s assistant for the Freshman Seminar course. She is also active in Cate’s public service program and is in two school bands.
Despite a very full schedule, she took a few minutes to share her experience in leadership.
Q: What are important qualities in a leader?
Pearson: A leader needs to know how to follow. A leader also has to be brave enough to lead by example, not in words only. I think time management is another important skill that a leader needs. A leader also needs to be able to change his or her focus to where it needs to be when the time calls for it.
Q: What have you found to be most satisfying in your leadership role in high school?
Pearson: I love seeing the effect of my work and effort on other peoples’ lives. When I put time into something, and then I see people enjoying or benefiting from changes I put into place, it is very satisfying.
Q: What about your experience at Marymount helped you feel ready to lead?
Pearson: I know what it is like to feel a part of a community because of Marymount, and it helped me seek community right away in high school. Marymount also exposes students to different things and experiences. It definitely kept me on my toes! The program helped me to get involved and feel engaged. I feel I have a tremendous debt to Marymount, actually.
Q: Tell me about what inspired you to run for student body president?
Pearson: I think it is something I had thought about doing since middle school. It is not as if I think of myself as a natural-born leader. When I was younger, I preferred working one-on-one. Gradually, I found that I liked being involved. I have organized a bunch of flash mobs at Cate and have had fun building school spirit. To me, being a leader and being involved is a way of giving back. Both Cate and Marymount have given me so much. I want to give back as much as I can.
Q: What would your advice be to a current middle school student about developing the confidence to lead?
Pearson: I would tell them not to be passive and expect things to come to them. They have to take advantages of the opportunities that are presented to them, but also go and seek opportunities for themselves. They also should learn to be comfortable talking to people — all kinds of people, including adults. Being a good communicator is a great skill. If these things make them nervous, that’s OK.
I’d tell them to start small and divide things into steps. Once you get comfortable talking to a bunch of kids, try talking to an adult you don’t know well, then several adults together, and so on. They should learn to feel confident of what they have to say, even if it is not perfect. It may take time and effort to get there, but it is worth the work.
Q: What would you say your personal leadership style is?
Pearson: I am interactive and get involved. When I am carrying out a task, I make sure that I am not doing it alone. I like to share the experience and share the credit. I’m an active and engaged leader.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned in leadership?
Pearson: You can’t do it all! You cannot be everything for everyone all the time. I try to be as fair as possible and have learned that you simply cannot please everybody. But, it is possible to please many through different ways, it’s just figuring out what works that is the most difficult part. I have also learned that even though this can be stressful at times, it’s still worth it. Being able to see positive change that you made happen is very satisfying.
Q: Will you continue to seek leadership roles in college next year?
Pearson: I am not sure if I will seek involvement in student government yet, but I will definitely seek leadership in college in some capacity. My involvement in leadership at Marymount and Cate has helped guide my college choices. I am interested in smaller independent colleges where I will be able to get involved right away, just like I have been my whole life.
Marymount is an independent coeducational school, junior kindergarten through eighth grade, on a picturesque 10-acre campus nestled on the Santa Barbara Riviera. Building on a 75-year tradition of excellence, the educators at Marymount have crafted a unique learning experience that blends mastery of core subjects with acquisition of the essential skills students need to navigate and be successful in a rapidly evolving world.
— Molly Seguel is the admissions director for Marymount of Santa Barbara.