Fellowship is helping define my leadership style

NAME: Courtney Stucker  
CLASS YEAR: 2022
HOMETOWN: Danville, Iowa
MAJOR: Journalism and communication

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS: Symphonic Band, Hope Overflow, Neumann Crew, Tower School of Music, Tower Agency, PRSSA, Players Theatre, Baldwin Leadership Fellows, Knight Vision

Courtney is one of four Wartburg students chosen to attend the National Character & Leadership Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 21-22, at the U.S. Air Force Academy, as part of Wartburg’s Baldwin Leadership Fellows Program.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE BALDWIN LEADERSHIP FELLOWS PROGRAM: Dr. Bill Withers nominated me for the Baldwin Fellowship. I had no idea what it was but, with my leadership minor, I knew it would help me learn about my growth and development as a leader and those around me. That’s always interested me, so I thought it would be a good way to help me get involved. Honestly it gives us an opportunity and a platform to come up with any leadership project that we want and implement it here at the school.

WHAT PROGRAM ARE YOU DEVELOPING FOR YOUR FELLOWSHIP: Haley Meyer and I have talked about teaming up on a project. We’re thinking about creating a program that helps build first-year confidence because, while we have Orientation Staff and that helps students get adjusted to school life, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s building up their self-esteem and confidence. That first semester of college is one of the biggest transitions for most people.

Courtney Stucker

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY LIKE: The speakers were amazing. They brought up a lot of good points, and it was fun to meet a bunch of other leaders and influential people in this area, but the biggest thing out of this whole experience was getting to live on the Air Force Academy campus and experience the culture of living with the cadets, because it’s completely different from going to a four-year college.  It is a hyper-masculine environment so seeing the experience through living with female cadets was cool. They’re so independent and strong, and that’s what you have to be. You have to be fit but also super smart because they’re not just learning math or one thing – they have to know how to fly an airplane. They’re required to serve after somehow, but they’re all there to study. My cadet was studying meteorology. It was a little intimidating to be a civilian and stick out, but it was an experience and I’m thankful for it.

I’m thankful for Mark and Peggy Baldwin. Mark was able to visit, so we got to see the experience through his eyes. He is an alumnus of the Air Force Academy, so he was visiting while we were there.

WHAT IS YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE AND HOW DO YOU THINK IT HAS DEVELOPED SINCE COMING TO WARTBURG: My preferred leadership style is to be a servant-leader. While my strengths are competition and command, I think it’s important to put your followers first. If someone gets behind, you are right there with them even though it’s much easier to be ahead on your own. You need to be there every step of the way with your people. After I came back from the Hope Overflow tour, I had been traveling, seeing different people, working with the homeless, and experiencing a higher spirituality. Those experiences both played into understanding that it’s not just about me. I need to start focusing on those around me – I’ve always kind of done that, but now I’m going out of my way.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE BALDWIN FELLOWSHIP: It’s a really good platform and gateway to allow four people every year to make a difference on our campus and in our community. One of my favorite things is knowing that I have this opportunity.

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU WOULD DO BEFORE COMING TO WARTBURG: I thought I was just going to be a face in the background. I know I have the potential to do so much and people see this ability in me to do great things, but I haven’t been able to actually do them until recently. Other people have this confidence in me and it’s building my own self-confidence to really develop who I am as a person, who I’m going to be in my career, and my personal life.