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Jennifer Olissa Leshnower ’00
Completing a dual degree in social work and public administration at Columbia University

Major: Political Science

Leadership roles: Congress Treasurer and Student Trustee which allowed me to serve on the Presidential Selection Committee and Inauguration

Extracurricular activities: Club Rugby, Club Flag Football, Pride Alliance, Students Organized for Service, Geneva Heroes, Student Literacy Corps, President's Forum: Service with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Alternative Winter Break (Fries, VA)

Favorite professors: Vivian Relta, Teaching for Change; Jack Harris, Sociology/Sociology of Community; Craig Rimmerman; Donna Davenport, Modern Dance; Dave Mapstone, Public Service Director

First job after College: AmeriCorps * VISTA, 2000 – 2001 in Wilmington, Del.

Accomplishments at William Smith
I think what I was most proud of in leadership roles was working with peers to create a more transparent student government. I learned about accountability, humility and creativity. We developed online pages for the Student Trustees, held a three-hour forum for the Board of Trustees on Student Affairs (Greek/residential life, community service, career services, etc.), and raised the level of awareness about the function of Student Trustees.

In academic leadership, I was part of a set of courses that eventually became a minor, Peer Education in Human Relations. We were among the first students to complete a set of six courses on cross-cultural dialogue, anti-oppression work, and teaching. We were peer teachers that helped develop a movement on campus to openly discuss the impact of “isms” on our daily human interactions.

On leadership
I attribute much of my desire to make an impact on my community through the work I was able to do on campus and the people I met on and off campus. Whether it was working with David Mapstone or Jack Harris on Student Literacy Corps or Geneva Heroes, building bridges between classmates and the Geneva community in Sociology of Community – I learned how central fostering strong relationships are to getting things done. I also worked with amazing peers and in doing so aspired to live up to the leadership, generosity, and talent displayed by my elder classmates. A sense of excellence and pride was instilled early on, not only through ceremony, but practice. We were given so many opportunities to explore our interests as women in key leadership roles that I felt I could really flourish.

On the coordinate system
I think the coordinate system impacted my education outside of the classroom, maybe even more so then the education inside the classroom. I was learning how to collaborate with my brothers, but also empower and support my sisters separately from the work men and women did together. It was a unique balance to try to strike as a college student.

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