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Metropolitan State TRIO Pay It Forward Tour

The Pay It Forward Tours will take place from May 7-10th destined for Chicago, IL!

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Alumni Profile: Scarleth Lopez

Scarleth Lopez was a participant on Stephen F. Austin State University’s first ever Pay It Forward Tour.

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Time 11:20


Alumni Profile: LaShaunda Newsom

LaShaunda joined the UMN-Duluth chapter in 2015, and went on her first PIF tour in 2016. She led middle school and high school tours, and is now getting her masters in Leadership and Student Affairs at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. She was kind enough to share with STLF how her experiences on tour have helped guide her towards her career path. 

When and where did you participate in STLF?

I got a late start with STLF. I heard wonderful and awesome things about the organization, its members, and was interested in joining. My participation within STLF started at the University of Minnesota-Duluth Chapter in 2015. I finally had time to attend the meetings and take part in the service events, and I went on the 2016 Pay It Forward Tour to Atlanta, GA. This was such a life changing event, and I still smile when I think about the adventure, friendships, and impact our service made for others. I have also had the opportunity to lead a few tours, two middle school tours and one high school tour.

What is one of your most significant memories of participating in STLF?

One of my most significant memories of participating in STLF is leading a high school tour for schools in the Mankato area. The students were so amazing, we went through a few challenges, but they were resilient and maintained a positive mindset all the way through the tour. I really got to bond with the students and the rest of the bus core. It was tremendous to be able to see the different social groups come together to do something good and bigger than themselves.  

We have a lot of tours coming up in the next couple of months. For students participating in a Pay It Forward Tour for the first time, what advice would you give them to get the most out of this experience?

I would first like to congratulate them on embarking in a new experience, it is not easy deciding to give yourself and your time away to hop on a bus with strangers. Some advice I would give first time participants in a Pay It Forward Tour is to remember self-care but to also be willing to be uncomfortable and move away from their usual social groups if they have friends on the tour with them. Be willing to meet and truly get to know new people and fully participate in new experiences, one can really learn about themselves through this experience if they are open to it.

You are working towards a Masters of Leadership in Student Affairs at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Did STLF play into your decision to pursue this degree? How has STLF influenced your professional aspirations?

I truly believe all my experiences throughout my post-secondary education and the identities I hold have influenced my decision to pursue my degree. Participating in STLF reminded me about the service and relationship aspects of leadership. Sometimes the work we do can be a thankless job but remembering what I have learned from STLF helps me carry on in my role. The partnerships STLF has made with schools and programs serving youth from diverse and marginalized populations are amazing, and provide leaders the opportunity to impact young minds, as well as influence the lives of everyone involved. The experiences I had with STLF, although few have aided me in remembering and adjusting my purpose for pursuing my career to working with people from diverse and marginalized populations.

Once you enter the higher education profession, what’s one thing you hope to add to the leadership culture and/or conversation?

I hope to add being moral and ethical in the practice and teaching of leadership within higher education to the conversation surrounding leadership. Being moral and ethical in leadership to me means to embrace the relational aspect of leadership and being aware of the capabilities of others, as well as not setting them up for failure. Within leadership we bring our values and beliefs to the role, but we must be aware and understanding of differing values and beliefs of those surrounding us.

Each month we feature a STLF alum who is making a difference through service and leadership. Know an alum that should be featured? Let us know, email info@stlf.net.

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