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How do you get leadership positions? A Caltech alum says it's more like a show, don't tell scenario.

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

We had the opportunity of interviewing Mojo Joshua Sonola, an alum of California Institute of Technology, about: Extracurriculars


Mojo is a graduate of Caltech with a degree in degree in chemical engineering and a minor in computer science. In high school, he attended the Wheeler High School magnet program while dual enrolled at the Georgia Academy of Mathematics Engineering and Science. Throughout his life, Mojo has been involved in different extracurricular activities, revolving around music, sports, and leadership organizations. Mojo is currently an associate at Goldman Sachs.


Key points he made:

  1. I have always tried to balance extracurriculars and academics, with more of a focus on academics.

  2. I think being well-rounded is better than being “spiky”. Academics and extracurriculars both play an important role in personal development.


Q: How do you think your roles as a Georgia Academy tour guide and leader of the Georgia Academy Intramural team improved your communication skills?

A: Being a tour guide and ambassador at Georgia Academy gave me a chance to talk frequently with incoming parents and students, as well as administrators and leaders at Georgia Academy. Being one of the first people incoming students and parents met before they went to the Academy made me feel personally responsible for putting my best foot forward and being able to articulate and communicate how amazing the program was. Being a leader of the Georgia Academy Intramural team meant that I needed to rally and excite people behind the common goal of playing different sports. I needed to figure out which sports people wanted to play and communicate with them well in advance when all of our games were.




Q: How did you build up a reputation to become the leader of the intramural team?

A: I became the leader of the intramural team my second year in school due to my excitement for sports and social nature. I’ve always enjoyed sports as they give me a chance to release steam and relax. Given that I enjoyed playing most sports and talking and communicating with people, corralling people to go to intramural sports was an easy next step for me.




Q: Did you prioritize your extracurriculars or your academics?

A: I have always tried to balance extracurriculars and academics, with more of a focus on academics. For the longest time, I was convinced I wanted to be a professional musician, an extracurricular activity I’ve been doing since I was 5 years old. Over time, this turned into more of a hobby and less of a career path. In the end, I optimized for having the most fun and getting the most experiences out of extracurriculars I could while maintaining a strong academic performance.




Q: How did you choose which extracurriculars to be involved in in high school? We noticed there wasn’t an obvious trend.

A: Since a young age, my biggest interests outside academics have been music and sports. Most of the extracurriculars I was involved in throughout high school followed this theme. Outside of this, I was also involved with math team and went to different competitions. All of my activities were activities that I enjoyed doing, helped relieve stress, and taught me valuable skills outside of the classroom. They were all team activities so I had to learn to rely on other people, to be reliable myself, and the value of teamwork and conflict resolution.




Q: Just your opinion: do you think it is better to be a well-rounded individual/student or a “spiky” individual/student?

A: I think being well-rounded is better than being “spiky”. Academics and extracurriculars both play an important role in personal development. While being academically strong is important,extracurriculars have taught me many valuable life lessons. As I’ve grown older, it’s become more obvious to me that people are who more well-rounded can make it further in life as they have the knowledge and skills to output great work and they have the social skills to communicate with others around them.



Want to learn more about Mojo? Check out his LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshua-sonola


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