That’s what she said…

At Norwich University, some people call me “Ma’am” or “Eaton.” Some call me more informal names like “Elle” or “Ari”. Others call me more colorful and unpublishable names. And, if I was successful here in my four years, all will use one from each category at some point (hopefully ending with the more friendly of the three).

This personal aside is a part of a larger issue that I dare say more than I experience and encounter on a near daily basis: the issue of leadership. Norwich University is a “four year progressive leadership model,” as I am sure every student has heard at least once. The idea is that you, whoever you are or want to become, will develop as a strong leader slowly year by year. I think that, sometimes, this idea of progression gets lost on our peers who expect perfection from the get-go.

An even greater issue is the idea that you achieve perfection at all in four years time.

Norwich is a unique experience in that, at the end of the day, we are all peers in spite of our rank or position. We are college students who still have things to learn the hard way, mistakes to make, relationships to build or cut off. And sometimes, when we pitch out on our own into the spotlight of expectation, the perceived mistakes become a target. We change our perception of them, we change their name. When, in fact, they may just be growing with the system set in place by the institution that connects us all.

I would certainly be lying if I said that I agree with every decision every one of my fellow student leaders has made this year, or any year. There are certain people who have changed their perception in my mind (or their names (and will probably never change again before we graduate. However, I do believe in not looking past one or two bad decisions made out of desire or inexperience, but accepting the bad with the good before passing judgment.

Let the whole person be named, not just one part.

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