Future Young Leaders Who Will Shape History
Mariah Klair Castillo
What changes would you like to see in our society?
The first change I would like to see in society is the increase in tolerance for people with different identities. The American culture promotes individualism, which can be great, but people are so wrapped up in themselves that they don’t even try to empathize or meet people who are different than them. Furthermore, I want the rights of all people to be legally recognized. Tolerance can only do so much. For everyone to enjoy their rights as human beings, there have to be laws in place that allow them to do so.
What kind of contribution would you like to make to society?
I want to be the one who makes the lives of women and children much more bearable. I am not exactly sure how I will contribute (I’ve dreamed of working in the United Nations, helping women in Southeast Asia get the right to an education and to their bodies, and becoming a lawyer), but even if I make the life of one person better, I would feel accomplished.
What book(s) influenced you most as a student and how?
The book that influenced me the most as a student is “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I first read it in my freshman year of high school, and the Finches are still one of my favorite families in literature. Lee balanced the familial love, innocence, and warmth with the heavy themes of race, injustice, and prejudice. Lee’s book was one of the first reminders for me that these issues are relevant in today’s day and age, and it showed me how important it is to look at the world at another person’s perspective. I still try to “crawl into other people’s skin” to fully understand a situation. I would recommend everyone to read “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
What– in your opinion– makes a good leader?
I could write a whole thesis on what makes a good leader, but for now, I’ll focus on one important quality. To me, a good leader is not necessarily the person who is the best at everything. A good leader is the one who is the most open and the best listener. When a leader is making a strategy, she calls on her peers and experts to give her advice, and even if she already has a set way of doing a task, she will readily listen to others and weigh each option fairly. I find that, while there are some things that must be done in a certain way, saying that “It’s always been like this” destroys any opportunity for innovation. A good leader always wants herself and her team to progress; being stagnant is not an option.
What inspires you to be the person you are today?
Two things inspire me to be the person I am today. The first one is my religion. My faith is my moral compass and guide to life, and it is what molded me to be the diligent, caring person I am today. The focus on helping your fellow man is very moving. It especially helps me remember that, despite all the bad in the world, I can do something good. The second thing that inspires me is social media. It may seem surprising to some, but social media is where I am able to receive news about events and people that are either ignored by the media or immediately vilified. Also, seeing all these young people using social media to promote change inspires me to do the same.
Of course, there are amazing people who inspire me all the time. The biggest influences of my life are my parents. We moved from the Philippines when I was very young, and they worked hard (and still work hard) to give my siblings and me a good education and a good life. I can never thank them enough.