Future Young Leaders Who Will Shape History
Kisa Schell, Macaulay Honors Scholar
What changes would you like to see in our society?
The biggest change I would like to see in our society would be for people to be more considerate towards one another and to be less self-entitled and self-serving. To a certain degree, I can understand the desire to put oneself first. Self-preservation is important and inherently human, but being inconsiderate and narcissistic seems to be the biggest social epidemic of my generation. Life isn’t all about how others perceive you through social media. Life shouldn’t be about being the most special snowflake. Being a part of a society is a collaborative effort that requires mindfulness and human decency, both of which seem to be genuinely lacking in this day and age. I’d also like for society to be less about popularity and branding and more about the appreciation of knowledge, literature and the arts. One quote that comes to mind is from the namesake of my high school alma mater, Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
What kind of contribution would you like to make to society?
As discouraging as life can sometimes be, I would like to strive to be a genuinely good human being who works with others to improve the quality of life for all people, especially children. Children are developing minds that can be influenced for the better. Teaching mindfulness and collaboration to our young might ensure a better future. I want to be an individual who works with children and instill solid values in order to create a better tomorrow.
What book(s) influenced you most as a student and how?
To be perfectly honest, there is no one book that changed my life and made me who I am today. Rather, I would say it was the fact that I had the opportunity to be exposed to so many books from such a young age that has influenced me not only as a student, but also as a person. I still remember my favorite picture books as a child, from Dr. Seuss to The “The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit”, and countless others. These books not only sparked my love of learning and reading, but also shaped my personality. Throughout my academic career, I have enjoyed works from so many authors, both of fiction and non-fiction: Lemony Snicket, J.D. Salinger, Naomi Klein, Oscar Wilde, John Kennedy Toole, Chuck Palahniuk, David Sedaris, and Haruki Murakami. Most recently, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” by Milan Kundera has stood out to me because it was so beautifully well written and so accurately painted the human condition. To sum it all up (I think it’s clear I can talk about books for days), I would say that books are a resource for understanding what it means to think and to be human. Books are an education on accepting different worldviews and so I’d tell a high school student to just go to the library or a bookstore and pick something that speaks to you. Read a couple pages and see if it’s what you’re looking for! If not, that’s ok. It’s just important to get reading.
What– in your opinion– makes a good leader?
A good leader is someone who is mindful of the greater good. A good leader is someone who is able to speak to people from all walks of life in order to inspire change. A good leader is someone with desires that are not self-serving, that is open to criticism and new ideas and collaboration.
What inspires you to be the person you are today?
As silly as this sounds, I’d say one of my biggest inspirations is my dog, Tako. He is the embodiment of goodness. He is always forgiving and loving, yet able to stand up for himself. He appreciates having fun but also the value of quiet. He’s forever loyal and he is never selfish. He’s genuinely appreciative to be alive and I think that’s wonderful. I also draw inspiration from my parents, who have shaped me to become the person I am today. By treating me with respect and asking for my opinions as a child, I have learned to appreciate the voices of all people, big or small. I’m thankful to my mother for raising me with Japanese culture. It is she who has instilled my self-discipline and desire to strive. I’m thankful to my father for teaching me to speak out against injustice and to express myself creatively. Without him, I would not have such a strong sense of what is right and wrong. #