"Dream big. Start small. But most of all, start."| A Princeton Alum on Extracurriculars
We had the opportunity of interviewing RY, an alumni of Princeton University about: Extracurriculars
In high school, RY was:
President of the New Jersey Association of Student councils,
President of the Senate of New Jersey State student body,
Student body president of her high school student government
President of her local FBLA chapter, which expanded to the biggest chapter in South Jersey
A nationally-rated fencer at Princeton
In college, RY:
Was a nationally-rated fencer at Princeton
Studied sociology and entrepreneurship
Served as student body president
Helped to launch the Company of Female Founders.
Has contributed to launching the end to end operations of a captive corporate venture capital fund along with the founders of True Platform
Works in Strategy under the Office of the CEO for True Platform
And is helping to launch our Corporate Social Responsibility and Women's Leadership initiatives
Key points RY shares:
"I felt like through that service, and being in the practice of doing something that is completely out of your comfort zone, the more you practice it, the easier and more natural it will become."
"I would say it was mostly passion. Out of this entire list, there was nothing that I felt required to do. If you ask me about piano and Chinese school, that's a different question. But for all of these things, I was definitely very passionate and excited to be able to build something and to see it grow."
"I would say start small. You have to start small because you can't do the big things if you can't start with the small things."
Q: What was your inspiration and motivation to lead?
A: For me, my motivation behind my involvement in Student Council stemmed from when I was in fourth grade. When I was younger, I used to have pretty severe social anxiety, and talking to people really made me nervous. I even had issues raising my hand in class to give answers. And the current eighth grade student body president at the time in my middle school was like, "Hey Rachel, I think that you have a lot of potential and you should join Student Council, so you'll be able to talk to others and work on those skills". Someone who I really looked up to had taken the time to recognize my potential and had believed in me before I could -- before I even believed in myself. I wanted to do that for others through student council because I had to step out of my comfort zone since it was my job as an elected representative to go and talk to people. I felt like through that service, and being in the practice of doing something that is completely out of your comfort zone, the more you practice it, the easier and more natural it will become. And that's the same motivation that I wanted to have. I was like, if I could become the eighth grade president, win a student council president and do that for somebody else in my middle school, that'll all be worth it.
Q: How did you build up that reputation of being able to lead?
A: I would say start small. You have to start small because you can't do the big things if you can't start with the small things. So for me in fourth grade, the first role that I signed up for was just like a general member at large, where you were just putting up posters, get people involved, and get them excited for different initiatives that the student council is running. I wasn't necessarily leading, but I think that you can show leadership in whatever role you have. Leadership as I define it, is taking the initiative to go above and beyond to do things that need to be done. I think that you start small, and then you will already have the groundwork, and the skill set to be able to do bigger things. So I would say do the small things really well.
Q: So going into each club specifically, why did you participate in these extracurriculars (FBLA, fencing, NJ Girls state, student council)? Was it duty, passion, or requirement?
A: I would say it was mostly passion. Out of this entire list, there was nothing that I felt required to do. If you ask me about piano and Chinese school, that's a different question. But for all of these things, here, I was definitely very passionate and excited to be able to build something and to see it grow. With FBLA, I saw a lot of potential and untapped potential, and really, I was like, "Hey, this is great, we can learn skill sets that will hopefully benefit us in the future as adults". I thought that since it was such a small club -- when I joined, I believe it was 27 people -- and I was thinking if more people knew about this, they could benefit from this really awesome program. That motivated me for FBLA. I thought, "this can help others we should all know about how to manage our personal finances or, you know, be able to navigate the business world". So that's what motivated that.
In terms of fencing, I would say that was more frivolous. I watched the Parent Trap when I was in fourth grade, and I thought it was really cool. So I started fencing. I just really enjoyed it, so I continue doing that.
For NJ Girls State, I wanted to know about how the local government worked. I thought that was a really great way to get a tiny taste as a high schooler of that looks like, and what the processes are for the American electoral system. So for me, it was just a natural curiosity.
For Student Council, I think we've touched upon this quite a bit, but really a desire to help others who might have struggled socially as I did.
Q: Going off of that, was your extracurricular life managed by yourself or your parents?
A: I thought that without my parents, being able to manage my schedule, get me to wherever I needed to be, fill the forms to do research, and be my guiding light, I would not have been able to do it on my own. Often when I was in high school, I probably was a little bit more egoistic where I was, as in, "Of course I've done this on my own". But looking back, I could not have done it without the help of my parents.
This interview originally took place in an audio format. However, we have converted it to text to avoid sound quality issues. To ensure coherency, we have slightly modified the wording.