In October, 32 fellows of the Colin Powell Program in Leadership and Public Service traveled to Washington, D.C. There, they met with General Colin L. Powell and attended presentations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security. Afterward, fellow Emie Lomba reflected on what she learned during the trip, and how to apply it to her life. Today, she is drawing on those lessons as she prepares for a future beyond the Center.
November 2011 – The road to success is bumpy, so we have to hold on tight, develop a sense of discipline, and keep persevering. These were the words of General Colin L. Powell’s that I took to heart during our small group conversation with him. Drawing from his life stories, General Powell demonstrated that aspiring leaders have to be ambitious, open to new experiences, hungry for knowledge, and most important, humble. We must always remember, he told us, that success needs to be shared.
General Powell also talked about his ambition for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and said his commitment to it helped him through college. Throughout the meeting, he talked to all 32 of us eager students in a casual yet inspirational way. After answering questions, he ended his discussion with these words: “The man cannot wear the clothes of a child.” And that is true. Learning does not end with graduation.
A Full Day
After our meeting with General Powell and a brief visit to the Martin Luther King Memorial, we had lunch with three Colin Powell Center alumni: Jessica Pierno, who works for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in public affairs; Roy Levy, a consultant at the Center for Strategic International Studies; and Melissa Frakman, a manager at the U.S. India Business Council. The alumni told us about the hardships and the benefits of working in Washington D.C., and through their career success stories, about the importance of networking and being open to new experiences. Meeting with them made the future more tangible for me.
After lunch, we visited the Center for New American Security (CNAS). I did not expect the presentation to benefit me specifically, but the words of one alumnus came to mind: “The best thing you can do is to be open-minded to the opportunities that are presented to you.” I learned about the different backgrounds of the people who contribute to CNAS, and also the ways our different majors and interests could fit in at their organization. Afterward, even though I still did not have a clear sense of how the presentation would influence my future decisions, I have a feeling that it somehow will.
Last, but certainly not least, was our visit to the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), which I knew I was going to like. I had high expectations and CSIS delivered. Scott Aughenbaugh, a research associate and multimedia manager there, talked about the notion that policy makers must begin to take into account seven revolutions that will have a major impact on the world. These are happening in the areas of 1) population, 2) resources management, 3) technology, 4) information, 5) economics, 6) security, and 7) governance. I found these groupings interesting because they are broad, yet inclusive of many changes going on in the world. Our Center alumnus Roy Levy was there and helped answer our questions, for example, on the issue of “conflict minerals” in technological innovations. The visit to CSIS was definitely my second favorite activity of the day, after the meeting with General Powell, of course.
Despite spending five cranky hours on a bus to D.C. on Thursday, October 28 and hardly getting any sleep that night, I felt this trip was well worth it. Most important, it was also fun. Beyond hanging out with a bunch of smart and talented people and listening to all the interesting things that they had to say, this trip has given me a feeling of reassurance and influenced the ways in which I think of my goals and my path to success.
Now a recent graduate of the Colin Powell Program in Leadership and Service, Emie is taking into account the lessons from the trip to Washington as she prepares for her future. Her plans are not yet set in stone, but her goals and ideas for how to attain them reflect the Center’s emphasis on building leaders who work for the common good through civic engagement and service.
May 2012 – I know I want to contribute to positive change but how was a question that I have battled with for the past year. I spent countless hours interviewing, bothering and annoying Colin Powell Center staff to try to find the answers to my problems and as usual they were very supportive…and patient. I remember being afraid. I was scared of making the wrong decisions but after some very fun and interesting outings with my fellow fellows I realized that I was not the only one who felt like this. I was very surprised to find that so many of us leaned on the Center staff for support and it was comforting to be surrounded with so many like-minded peers.
Setting Goals & Exploring Options
I am not exactly sure what I will be doing within the next year. I was accepted to Teachers College for an MA in Comparative and International Education but I am not sure if I will defer my acceptance to the Spring semester. For now, I plan to spend my summer in Gabon shadowing Ministry of Education personnel and compiling research on the Gabonese education system. I want to use the skills I learned in the Powell seminar class and with my capstone to do a policy analysis on a Gabonese education policy (not sure which one yet) and make some intelligent recommendations (hopefully). I might start teaching as well.
I have three main professional goals 1) to become a professor 2) become an education consultant and work internationally and 3) open a non-profit. Hopefully this will not end as all talk and no delivery. Wish me luck! – Emie Lomba
Emie Lomba is a former Colin Powell Leadership fellow (2010-2012). Read more about her and our other contributors here.