What it means to be a servant leader

What it means to be a servant leader. How a CYL alum continued a life of service and found her passion beyond high school.

I am currently at Colorado State University in Fort Collins studying Social Work and Fish and Wildlife Conservation Biology. 

Something I learned in CYL that I keep with me everyday is that everybody’s experiences are different. I have found that it can be easy to place people in a box and to make snap judgement about the people around me. However, through my adventures with CYL and meeting tons of new and different people my eyes were opened to how little we know about each other and the world around us. It showed me how deep and rich people’s lives are, by simply looking at someone you have no clue what they have encountered on their path. 

CYL has made me a confident leader because it put me in many roles where I was outside of my comfort zone. It put me in roles where I needed to ask for help. It put me in places where I had to rely on my own intuition and my own strength to make the right decisions. These roles have given me perspective and experience on what it takes to be a good leader but also the incredible importance of being a follower. Through the LEMs I was given so many tools, resources, and practice that helped me develop my leadership skills and gave me a space to ask questions and be vulnerable to strengthen myself. 

Something that is not talked enough about when it comes to Colorado Young Leaders is how it instills certain values and traits that stay with you. Something I experienced when I was in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps was an ever-changing schedule and setting. I felt I was much more equipped to handle moving from disaster to disaster because of my ability to be flexible and adaptable. CYL fosters situations where you are subject to many different changes. It fosters the value of self-reflection and taking time to evaluate your feelings and your experiences. This is something I not only took with me to AmeriCorps but also all throughout college. 

CYL introduced me to the world of volunteering and non-profits. Through the wide variety of service adventures I attended I was able to try out SO MANY organizations and support various causes. The one that truly shaped my passion and has led me to what I want to do with my life (do we ever really know?) is Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado. CYL connected me to their Youth Stewardship program where I fell in love with working in the outdoors and conservation. This is also where I was introduced to AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps where I did my gap year. Which helped further my passion for working with people and communities. 

CYL has changed my life in so many ways, it seems like without it I would be a completely different person. It has allowed me to have a wide variety of unique experiences that have shaped me into the person I am today. It has made me more open-minded, compassionate, empathetic, and emotionally intelligent. 

Without CYL, I would be a less active citizen in the world. 

– Madison Walinchus, CYL ’17 –

November 17, 2020