Acting with an Awareness of Social and Cultural Dynamics

This competency is one that I have been working to strengthen during my time as  Leadership Consultant through incorporating what I have been learning in my classes into my work. One course in particular, INTS 446: Art, Beauty, and Culture, has expanded my value for learning about social and cultural differences. The course was where I first learned about the term “intersectionality,” and that has changed the way I view the world ever since. Intersectionality is a framework used to identify how interlocking systems of power impact marginalized people in our society. By inspecting a person’s social categorizations, such as race, class, and gender, the intersectional approach then interrogates that interconnectedness and how it creates disadvantages and discrimination. It was hard for me to grasp this concept at the beginning of this spring semester, but I now know how to use it to enhance this competency at work and in life.

My role as a Leadership Consultant has allowed me to serve in many different roles with a variety of groups. The role that has helped me work on this competency and the idea of taking an intersectional approach the most has been my work done with Hampton Middle School students. I had the amazing opportunity to plan and execute the 6th Annual Incredible Leadership Conference at Hampton Middle School this April. During my time at the conference, I lead a small group of about 25 students along with three other Mason volunteers. Our small group was comprised of students with varying backgrounds and stories that I loved learning about. The day with those kids provided me with the chance to strengthen this competency by taking the time to listen to the kids’ stories without judgement and form connections regardless of social and cultural differences. It was very interesting to be at the conference as a Leadership Consultant this spring, after being a Mason volunteer two years earlier. I loved every moment I shared with those students, and feel grateful to have had the chance to give them a fun and memorable day.

Another aspect of this competency that I am intentional about working on is my ability to actively create a just community. This idea excites me, especially given the somewhat hectic social climate we live in today. I am proud of my work in the LEAD Office and all of the academic work I have done to learn about social and cultural differences, and will continue to utilize my academic knowledge and professional skills to create that just community in every way I can.