Always looking for new opportunities to better herself, graduate student Sowmya Damidi, computer science major and Miss TAMUK 2014-2015, participated in the Emerging Leader Fellowship Program this summer.
Damidi said she was recommended to take part in it by Laura Prange, Director of Campus Sustainability.
“Since the time that Sowmya arrived on campus about a year ago, she was just an outstanding, enthusiastic advocate for sustainability,” Prange said. “When I learned of the fellowship, I thought she was a perfect match because she demonstrated courage and spirit by applying for and going for the Miss TAMUK pageant, so that reinforced my support for her with the National Wildlife Federation.”
Damidi was informed about the program five days prior to its deadline, so she didn’t have much time to consider whether she really wanted to do it. But she didn’t regret it, she said.
“As Miss TAMUK, I definitely needed some inner strength and an inner journey. (The facilitator) made us realize what kind of a leader we are and what our strengths are,” Damidi said. “It’s really important to learn about yourself and regain that energy.”
Damidi said it was a five-day conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Their facilitator, Barbara Wyckoff, specializes in leadership development and has worked with numerous organizations in the U.S. Wyckoff focused on teaching the attendees what types of leaders they were and what their strengths were.
“How much of a leader are you? Where are you on the scale as a leader? We had this intensive exercise on what your perspective is and how you take things out, as a risktaker and as a team leader,” Damidi said. “What’s your purpose in life? She told us to never get off your purpose and not to lose your vision.”
Damidi said she learned much from her experience.
“(Wyckoff) told me that she saw that whatever I did came from my inner me. I get out what’s really true to me and she compared me to a blue ocean: a sense of calmness that pulls people in,” Damidi said. “I can never forget those words learning from such a great personality. I really want to exercise those words whenever I feel low.”
Prange said she was able to tell there was a change in Damidi.
“There was a certain increased level of confidence and self-possession and conviction about her ideas about sustainability that I think only a leadership can achieve, so I’m so thankful that she was able to go and really benefit from it,” Prange said. “She’s a really open person so I feel she made the most of it. I’m very excited about what she’s going to do with sustainability in the coming year.”