If I were to compare my time as President of OUTspoken (my alma mater’s LGBTQA+ organization), I would compare it to Leslie Knope’s time as Deputy Director of the Pawnee Department of Parks and Recreation. If you’re familiar with the show Parks and Recreation, you will find that Leslie Knope is very passionate about her job. She loves everything to do with the Parks and Rec department and she clearly enjoys her job. I envisioned myself to be the Leslie Knope of OUTspoken for a few reasons.

The first reason is that that it was an organization with a mission that I was very enthusiastic about. I wanted to be a resource for education for the LGBTQA+ community. Even though Leslie held the position of Deputy Director, she was very much the spokesperson for the whole department. People knew that she would fight for the town of Pawnee and its parks. I liked to think that in my time as Secretary of OUTspoken during my Sophomore year, I was viewed as the same way.

Towards the end of the series, Leslie gets promoted to chair of a branch of the National Parks service, pretty much the pinnacle position you could get being in the Parks Department. When I moved from secretary to president at the end of my Sophomore year, I felt that I had reached a point where I could truly make a difference.

Like Leslie Knope, I was passionate about one thing and decided to immerse myself as much as I could in it. I worked with my executive board to reach out different people in other organizations and in other departments around campus to get the OUTspoken’s name out there. Leslie Knope did everything in her power to make sure the citizens of Pawnee knew that the Parks and Rec department cared and wanted to make the town parks better for the children of Pawnee.

Being President of OUTspoken taught me so many things. It taught me how to communicate with other people; both people who were on the same level as me and people who were in positions higher than me. It taught me how to work with different people in different positions; some people who did their work well without any direction (ahem, Jerry) and some who needed a little more guidance with their job and what they needed to do (read: Tom Haverford). But regardless, being a part of OUTspoken was such a great part of my undergraduate career. Being my first leadership role, it gave me my first steps with getting more involved on campus. It will always be the example I give to other students who are having trouble fitting in on campus.

One quote from Leslie that I always enjoyed and I think people should keep in mind is: “I am big enough to admit that I am often inspired by myself.” I think we should all be inspired by the work that we do and where we have started to where we are today.


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