I’m called to be a leader in my community

NAME: Jared Feigenbaum  
HOMETOWN: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
MAJOR: Social work

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS: Baldwin Leadership Fellow, Ambassadors, Students UKnight  president, Orientation Staff, Dance Marathon, Homecoming Committee co-director

Jared 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: Ashley Lang sends out an application in the first term to first-year students. Once you apply, you do an application and interview, where you talk about what leadership means and what aspirations you have to bring leadership on campus. After getting accepted you start working with the other fellows in the program.

WHAT PROGRAM ARE YOU DEVELOPING FOR YOUR FELLOWSHIP: I would like to partner with the Waverly community, since Waverly and Wartburg work really well together, to do a Waverly-Shell Rock day of service. It would target specifically high school seniors, and maybe even juniors, to volunteer in the Waverly community. When you’re leaving high school and you’re maybe leaving your first home to go to a new one, this is an opportunity to give back to the community giving you your entire education. That’s something so important to give back to the community that’s given you so much.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR THIS PROJECT: The point of this program is to not just be a one-time opportunity, but for my program to influence people for years and continue the tradition. Maybe it will help me grow myself as a leader and then lead those who will head the program once I leave Wartburg. 

Jared Feigenbaum

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AT THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY LIKE: Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy were basically a three-day conference. There were 224 students visiting from 46 different states, and I think there were only 12 to 15 non-military students there. We were pretty much the minority as civilians. The point of the conference is to gain an understanding of what it takes to grow ourselves as leaders. A lot of the speakers were influential leaders, specifically in the United States Air Force. There was a founder of the Chick-fil-A Foundation and Brené Brown,  a New York Times best-selling author. They brought their experiences to the table and were there to talk about leadership, diversity, inclusion, and what it looks like to take the next step into the future. It was interesting to be part of and live in the cadet life alongside them.

HOW DOES THIS CONNECT TO YOUR COURSE WORK: There were two speakers there who had social work backgrounds, so I got to talk about equality and diverse groups of people. My favorite speaker was a social work major who worked with a double amputee wrestler and there’s a whole documentary about that. I was able to see myself doing that. 

HOW HAS THIS EXPERIENCE SHAPED YOUR IDEA OF LEADERSHIP ON CAMPUS: Even when I was in Colorado Springs, I knew that those things they talked about were things that needed to be said or definitely needed to be incorporated right away. I looked around at other leaders on campus and was able to identify things that they do really well. I didn’t even realize what I was seeing, but now what they were doing was put into words that I can understand and it’s truly important.

HOW HAS YOUR LEADERSHIP JOURNEY CHANGED OVER TIME: Coming into college, I knew I wanted to be involved but I had no idea I wanted to be a leader right away. But through being involved and building my connections I was asked to take on more leadership roles and I like that. I have the organization and personality to take what I’m doing with a group and make it be the best it can be. I think over my leadership in college specifically, I have grown as a leader just because of the people around me. I don’t think I was a natural leader, but those people around me are the ones who have built me.

WHAT IS YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE: I’d say my leadership style is lead from the front and lead by example. I’m not a person to think about showing off or wanting all the attention. I don’t want to take the credit – I’d much rather give it to someone else or to the team.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO DO AFTER GRADUATION: I see myself working for a nonprofit. I see myself traveling the world. I see myself working for Wartburg. I see myself just being in the community. I don’t want to be a social worker who sits at a desk and does casework. I want to be out making a difference for people, students, kids.

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU COULD DO BEFORE COMING TO WARTBURG: I never thought I would have the opportunities and relationships in college that I have now. Wartburg’s given me the opportunity to take on roles and experiences that are probably once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, like meeting a Staff Sargent in the U.S. Air Force. Those experiences are irreplaceable, and I know there’s more to come.

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE LIVING OUT THE WARTBURG MISSION: By being a leader on campus and fulfilling my vocation. No matter what I do, I want to be a leader in my life – on campus, in the world. I think that my vocation has really called me to be a leader in my community on campus by doing service work and being part of faith. Faith is an important part of my life and having that rooted in my values to just do what I want to do, what’s right, and be humble about it. I think these opportunities have given me all the opportunities and experiences to be able to live out what it really means to be a faithful servant to our community around us.

WHY WAS WARTBURG WORTH IT: Wartburg is worth it to me because of the people and experiences. People truly make it special; whether they’re peers, faculty, or staff. At the same time, my friends and peers are people I can turn to in times of struggle or when I need guidance or mentorship. The experiences and liberal arts education have given me a broad range of academics, travel opportunities, and field experiences. That is worth more than what a book can do for me.