The positive and energetic Piedmont University student was President of the Student Government Association (SGA) and worked closely with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council, attending meetings and using his voice to further the mission of inclusion and fairness. In fact, he and his fellow SGA executives created a council committee to help recognize and embrace differences, celebrating individuality.
Besides holding court as a leader showcasing great potential in politics, he was also a student athlete on the cycling team. This, coupled with his studies in political science and involvement on campus, made a great recipe for impactful leadership.
Be Organized, Prepared, and Ready to Pivot
How do you juggle school, sports, and several leadership roles at the same time? Michael understands that nothing comes easy and that putting a plan in place is always step one.
"I built a consistent, well-thought out plan to achieve each level toward my goal. It was okay if it went a little off, but it has to complete the overall goal. I always think before I do because it protects me from making bad decisions in school and life."
A key takeaway here is to be able to accept when things veer off course. Many people assume that the most successful leaders achieved their goals according to plan—but time and again this has proven to be false.
That's why there is a goal-setting technique designed to embrace unexpected obstacles and treat them as mere circumstances you have to adjust to. As Michael states, you can still keep working toward your overall goal even when life happens.
To graduate with honors and be a leading voice on campus, Michael attributes many key leadership skills to his success.
"I'm a listener, understanding others' problems and concerns and learning more about new things. I analyze everything from my workload to the real world. Connecting pieces to make sense of my environment and comprehending the social issues around me to help out. I value time management to perform every task and job without conflicting with my daily schedule and completing the work. Also, I'm an organized person, maintaining a particular order without anything out of place."
Time management, organization, analytical skills make for leadership that can enact real change. Michael also includes having an awareness on social issues as part of his leadership repertoire. So many great leaders extend their skills to drive awareness on social issues and use their voice for activism.
Michael is an example of our mission in motion, developing the skills that make him a stronger leader while always having an eye on building a better world.
Michael's Advice for Future Leaders
Michael understands that giving advice means to reflect on the advice he's been given. He looks up to his late father, who taught him the fundamentals of character, integrity, and the discipline to succeed.
"[He] taught me everything to become the young Black man I am today. He raised me with principles and discipline that strengthened my spirit and encouraged me to move forward."
A particular piece of advice he cherishes is: "You may give out, but don't give up." No matter how tough things seem, with an attitude of resiliency, you can achieve any goal.
This positive approach goes hand-in-hand with goal setting that predicts an uneven path. Obstacles only need to seem like obstacles if you treat them that way. Michael's also an advocate for servant leadership, a leadership style that empowers, inspires, and relies on the power of a team.
"To become a better leader, you must stay true to people by acting upon what you say, listening to their voices, and utilizing your unique personality to lead a group. Leadership means becoming a humble, respectful advocate for others."
His description also has the qualities of democratic leadership, which encourages a team-player attitude, creative collaboration, and emphasizes transparency and communication.
The importance of using your voice also touches on another truth that continually comes up: being true to you, doubling down on your authentic self, and using what is most unique about you as your guiding principle to lead others. These leadership qualities are what the NSLS teaches through leadership development.
"The [NSLS] courses guided my success and leadership in college. It also brought unique people to support my leadership growth at college and in life."
The sky's the limit for Michael, but he plans on taking a gap year next. What does a gap year look like for someone with this much ambition?
"I'm taking a gap year to work as an administrative legal clerk and improve my LSAT score to enroll in law school."
He plans on enrolling in law school to focus on criminal and international law. His ultimate goal is to become a US Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps attorney, which would put his criminal and international law concentration to good use while also honoring his father and grandfather, who both served in the Air Force.
Check out another future attorney using her positive attitude and skill set to overcome obstacles and achieve her goals.