On January 20th 2014, the national day of service, I volunteered with Urgent Inc. painting murals in Dorsey Park to commemorate the South Florida Negro team. Getting my hands covered in paint, streaking color across the walls alongside Kadir Nelson (a well-known painter featured in the New Yorker and with work on Drake’s cover of his latest album) I felt apart of something greater than myself. As clichéd as that may sound, I truly felt united with the historic past of Miami’s black community, and with today’s community of diverse volunteers. The Dorsey Park is located in Overtown, 15 minutes from my home in Coral Gables. Although blocks away, the two communities often seem segregated by the stereotypes and discriminations dividing the two. But with some simple volunteer work it inspired me to see people from all walks of life coming together to collaborate and move in the direction of progress. It takes efforts like these to promote change.
This week I also attended a one-day leadership conference that ‘increases awareness of real-world leadership and emphasizes the development of one’s leadership potential’. What does a ‘leader’ mean? The word is often thrown about without any comprehension of its true significance. As Dr. Steve Gallon III stated, “Leadership is action. Not position.” This quote resonated with me because it encourages us to go out into society, engage with people in the community, and become leaders by role modeling ideal behaviors and actions. Dr. Gallon reiterated this influential statement by saying, “Believe what you say, and live what you say.” These simple quotes allowed me to come to the realization that leading comes naturally when you become the person you wish others to be.
A couple days ago I stumbled upon some Facebook messages and I realized that I was somewhat of a leader in my community. I read lines like, “You have inspired me to play volleyball,” and “You motivate me to work harder.” Although many of those people didn’t realize it, they too were inspiring me to push myself even more because I want to show them what hard work can accomplish.
One of the most rewarding parts of being an athlete is having a younger athlete come up to you and tell you how you inspire them. This year as I have had more and more young children look up to me I have felt even more motivated to be the leader and inspire them to be the best that they can be. Through community service and attending conferences I have gained even more motivation to work diligently for a greater purpose; Inspiring others.