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Building a Better World through Leadership Development

Strong leaders know when it’s time to make a change. Walking a new path can be challenging and scary, but successful leaders know how to face change with courage.

Edlynn Villalon, member of the Capella University chapter, experienced poverty as a child in one of the most underprivileged areas of the Philippines.

Emigrating to the US with her family at the age of seven, she began a career as a special education paraprofessional. However, she soon discovered a calling in another field. 

After earning her bachelor’s degree, she began pursuing a master’s in nursing. She successfully completed the Foundations of Leadership, Advanced, and Executive programs at the NSLS.

These core educational opportunities helped Edlynn develop and hone leadership skills, but they also led directly to one of her proudest accomplishments. 

“After completing the three certificates through the NSLS, and as required by the Executive program, I created Recycle & Rejoice as my Better World Project, which I’ve continued to pursue. Recycle & Rejoice is designed to assist individuals struggling with housing insecurity as well as help the environment by recycling household items."

Her project was so impactful that it was recognized by Sigma, an international professional nursing organization.

Preparing for Success with the Right Training

If you ask her what skills she needed to successfully achieve her goal, Edlynn will tell you without hesitation.

“Commitment. Determination. Leadership.”

Those are among the skills and qualities imparted by participation in the NSLS leadership development programs.

NSLS members learn to think more critically, identify and develop a mission around a core sense of purpose, and collaborate with others to make a positive impact centered around that purpose. 

For Edlynn, her purpose was twofold: alleviating some of the hardships experienced by the Los Angeles homeless population and helping the environment by recycling water bottles and other items. 

She used proceeds from the project to create care packages for the homeless. Next, she plans to distribute school supplies to children living with housing insecurity. 

Edlynn’s Advice for Future Leaders

To become a stronger, more successful leader, it’s important to first define leadership for yourself.

It’s also helpful to think about the people in your life who demonstrate leadership qualities and are role models for your own leadership journey. 

To me, a leader is an individual who possesses and uses compassion, understanding, and respect to carry out any leadership duties to a group of individuals in order to accomplish common goals."

That person in her life is her sister. "My sister, Sara, is a leadership role model for me. Even though she’s younger, she has accomplished so much in her life that I could only wish to rise up to her level.”

Edlynn has a strong commitment to serving others of lesser means. She’s mindful of the role that passion and personal values play in achieving goals and becoming a true leader. 

She recognizes that designing the life and career you want must begin on the inside. 

“The one key piece of advice I received that’s been instrumental in helping me achieve my goals is to live life the way I want to.”

Edlynn’s biggest piece of advice for future leaders is to recognize and seize the opportunities around you that help you develop your leadership skills.

To that end, she strongly recommends taking advantage of the educational resources offered by the NSLS. 

“When you become part of the NSLS and take part in leadership certification courses, it helps you become a better leader in any context.”

Students of leadership know that the ultimate outcome of any successfully attained goal must be to share the lessons they learned.

Assisting those who come after you is the best way to leverage your accomplishments, as well as give back to the larger community. 

“I'd like to become someone who others would look up to and ask for advice.”

Edlynn’s story shows how leadership education helps tomorrow’s leaders gain the necessary skills to succeed in all aspects of life. Learn about the four components that make up a successful leadership education program.