SENIOR COLUMN: You can make an impact without a title


Fiona Coupe, Photo submitted

This University is obsessed with leadership. I learned that very quickly in GBA 145, and then again in UH 120. And just in case I had forgotten, I was reminded every time I walked into the Career Center or applied for any on-campus job. 

But here’s the kicker: I’ve never held a leadership position on this campus, not a single one. If you ask me what I am most embarrassed about from my short four years here, it is that. I’ve never held a top spot. 

It isn’t that I was rejected from every single thing I applied to freshman year. It is that I have never been voted or selected to take on the role of president. My peers have never seen me as the one that could lead them through the vicissitudes of a school year. Quite frankly, it crushed me. It still crushes me. I’ve always thought that I was better than second or third in command. I’ve had positions with some degree of autonomy and authority, but I’ve always had to answer to at least two layers of authority.

But I still like to consider myself a leader. Despite never having had the pleasure of adding “president” to my resume, I believe I have left an impact on this campus. The thing about my failure to achieve what I so desperately wanted was that I learned leadership is a choice. A choice to do something regardless of what title you put on your resume. Once I realized I didn’t need a title to make a difference, everything changed. 

I took the opportunity I had, one with less responsibility than the top spot, to make substantial changes. I must add that I have always been fortunate to have great presidents and advisers to work under. They either supported me or were so run down by my constant stream of ideas that they just went with it. 

Without the pressures of being president, I was able to create a brand-new signature event for the University of Alabama Dance Marathon, taping an administrator to the wall. I was also able to develop a Person of the Year Award, awarded to an individual who has made distinct contributions for the advancement of womanhood. I hope the things I was able to achieve without president on my resume will not only outlive my graduation, but outlive me. It was such a powerful thing seeing UADM tape an administrator to the wall even when I was not a part of the organization. 

Not having had those sparkly words of president on my resume will always be a sore spot. But I write this for the 38,000 students who are not president. I write this because you can do something, something big and meaningful. You can change this campus. You don’t need to start a student organization or be a president. You need to decide to make a difference, and then you need to work like a dog to make it happen. 

Fiona Coupe is a senior majoring in consumer sciences.