I'm a strong believer in developing one's communication and leadership skills at every possible opportunity. The managerial and interpersonal skills developed from leading teams, managing projects, and growing a small organization are highly transferable into nearly every professional sector- whether it be academia, industry, or government. In academic research, effective leaders are critical to the development and completion of projects, communicating the value of science to a diverse audience, and building colleagues and students into better scientists as well. I've been privileged to hold a variety of leadership roles in my early career, whether it be through serving on academic committees, leading student organizations, or serving on the board of a 501c(3) nonprofit. I like to think that all of these involvements have built me into a better leader, better researcher, and better person.
My leadership experience has included serving on the North Carolina Bird Records Committee, Regional Vice President of the Carolina Bird Club, and as a voting executive board member of the Rio Brazos Audubon Society. I've served on academic and service committees ranging from the Communications Committee of Texas A&M's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Program to the Student Affairs Committee of the American Ornithological Society, and have held the positions of Vice President and President of the Western Carolina University student chapter of The Wildlife Society. I received the Ken Wilson Student Award through the North Carolina state chapter of The Wildlife Society for my service and dedication to wildlife conservation, and was also awarded the EJ Whitmire Leadership Award through my undergraduate department at Western Carolina University.
Another example of my prior leadership experience is through my involvement with Toastmasters International. I have served as both Vice President of Education and then as President for Aggie Toastmasters, Texas A&M University's campus chapter of the larger Toastmasters organization. This has allowed me to proactively and continually improve my public speaking and leadership skills while also playing a pivotal role in developing Aggie Toastmasters into one of the leading campus chapters of Toastmasters in the entire United States. Under my leadership we increased our active membership base by over 80% and drew from a diverse, cross-cultural undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral base here at Texas A&M University. In 2020-2021 we received the President's Distinguished Club Status, which is the highest regular honor given to any Toastmasters chapter. This is a testament to the dedication of our club's members and their progress through their own communication and leadership development.
I believe that mentorship is a critical component of the growth of undergraduate students and early-career graduate students. Through my time as a doctoral student in the Grace Lab I have mentored several undergraduates in field techniques, research, and in their transition to graduate school. Additionally, I spearheaded a personalized mentorship program in Aggie Toastmasters and successfully mentored four individuals (undergraduate and graduate students, and university staff) to help them become better leaders and communicators themselves.