Last summer Julia Guarch ’15 and five other Lafayette students participated in a special program through which they held internships with area nonprofits (hers was with the Nurture Nature Center) and attended weekly sessions that included presentations by local nonprofit leaders, round-table discussions, and workshops. Those sessions, known collectively as the Leadership Development Program, convinced Julia that “as long as you have a will and the passion, anyone can make a difference” and inspired her to “want to be an advocate for change.”
In thinking about the lessons Julia learned, I reflected on how the leadership-oriented experiences from which my undergraduate friends and I benefited helped shape our lives and careers. At the time, I never thought of serving as head resident adviser in McKeen Hall, being elected president of the honor society for government and law majors, or accepting extra responsibilities as captain of the wrestling team as helping me acquire skills I would use later in life. My peers who held leadership positions on campus also were not focusing on the lifelong value of those opportunities—but all of us continue to benefit from them.
Of all the student leaders I remember from my four years on campus, Doug Campbell ’86 provides the most inspiring example of someone whose passion for a cause transformed him into a lifelong “advocate for change.” I recall how impressed I was by Doug’s commitment to help Father Tom Hagan, Lafayette’s Catholic chaplain, address the needs of Easton’s homeless population. It was never too early for Doug and Father Tom to head down College Hill to serve a hot meal or offer an encouraging word to someone in need. Soon they extended their reach to Haiti, where they now have spent more than 25 years helping to educate, house, feed, and give a sense of hope and purpose to the residents of Port-au-Prince’s Cite Soleil, Haiti’s largest and most impoverished slum.
Our student leaders have, as alumni, achieved positions of leadership in every field of endeavor. When I walk through the admissions suite here in Markle Hall, I often see prospective students reading, with obvious interest, the profiles of some of our most successful alumni, women and men who have excelled in areas ranging from government service (Ambassador Marcia Bernicat ’75 and former Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon ’52) to athletics (legendary Princeton basketball coach Pete Carril ’52 and George Barclay, 1896, the inventor of the football helmet). Leaders in the fields of law, education, health care, arts and entertainment, the military, and business and finance also are featured.
Undergraduates like Julia Guarch are already making a difference. We should all be proud of our college for providing her—and generations of other students —with opportunities to develop into leaders who will ultimately have an impact on their professions, their communities, their nation, and their world.
James W. Dicker ’85
Development and College Relations