The National Society of Leadership and Success
Building leaders who make a better world

David Jesse Aponte
David Jesse Aponte

When envisioning a grand cycle, I think of nothing more than my chapter's leadership program at Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Florida. As a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, I have learned to further confront each day with optimism, initiative, and respect for those around me. Maintaining charisma and a sanguine perspective on life, I have helped others better themselves as I improve my moral values. Like a water cycle, I view my newly-formed Success Networking Team as calm as the water in lakes, slowly rising like evaporation through controversial-yet informative-discussions, gaining altering significances and outlooks like the formation of clouds, and finally striking upon society with a positive impact ? as strong and powerful as the unavoidable precipitation! 

Beginning with our college's Leadership Training Day, I knew various scholastic challenges would arise. All pending society members were given SNT forms to complete in order to be appointed groups. While waiting for the final designations, I realized that several students were not content with their assigned group(s). After an hour of slight chaos my name had not been called, but I noticed there were three other students who had not been announced either. Being outgoing, I immediately confronted these three students ? who had seemed to be overlooked ? and asked them if they would like to form a new group. At first, our chapter president was reluctant in allowing the formation of a new group, as we did not have sufficient members; however, as I am not one to easily relinquish a plan, I respectfully asked if anyone else would like to join this new group. A woman in a wheelchair came over to the group, and so did two young men thereafter. After a few minutes of persistence and slight discussion, I convinced the president to allow this group to be established. Consisting of a Nigerian man, Lithuanian teenager, German woman, two northern Floridians, a young man from Brazil, and myself (a Puerto Rican), I am proud to say that our SNT is the most diverse of our chapter. One thing in life that completely fascinates me is learning about various cultures, and acquiring knowledge from my distinct group members is exactly what I have done. Had it not been for persistence, this wonderful group may have never resulted. In life, one must work a little harder, or insist a little more for satisfactory results. It is better to attempt attaining something and failing, than to never have attempted gaining it. In this case, the attempt was persistence and a bit of "argumentation." However, with how this SNT resulted, it was well worth the argument. 

At our first SNT meeting, I brought up a goal I had which involved getting accepted into a Peruvian International Program at Florida State University in Tallahassee. As a community college student I realized the chances to be accepted were minute, but I asked my group members if I should sacrifice a four-hour drive for a live interview. They all encouraged me to apply and gave me more motivation in pursuing this goal. The very next day, I arranged an appointment with an International Program representative. About a week later, I made the drive down to Tallahassee and went directly to the representative's office. The representative decided to conduct the entire interview in Spanish, as I had informed him I was fully bilingual. Showing no signs of intimidation, I continued the interview efficiently. I informed him of the chances I knew I faced, but assured him that I spoke Spanish more eloquently than any of the other interviewed students, and that I would work harder at attaining a spot. At the end of the interview, the man informed me that I had been chosen as the ninth student of twelve, and that I was the only transient student he had ever accepted. I thanked him with a confident handshake, and later drove home overwhelmed with excitement. In the summer I will travel to Iquitos, Peru, to teach English as a second language to underprivileged children, and I will also study the history of the Amazon. While other university students may have been at an advantage, I utilized my own abilities and decided that this was a step closer to breaking the boundaries of which community college students often feel block them from true success. 

Rather than overanalyze contradicting and varying characteristics of a leader, I have decided that in order to truly succeed in life, one has to enjoy it. Working at an expensive leather-goods store in Florida, I witness wealthy people who spend thousands of dollars shopping, yet leave without ever once smiling. I maintain a bright smile on my face, and realize that sometimes money is not enough to amount to satisfaction. Unlike the women and men who shop at the store in which I work, I guarantee that my minimum wage will be used towards cheaper materialistic items in life, and more valuable life-changing experiences. This summer in Peru, I will learn the true definition of deprivation, and with the price of a leather purse, I will motivate, challenge, and educate those around me who will be authentically grateful. With the moral lessons I attain, I will further make positive changes for others, as well as myself.

Aside from money and success, a true leader evolves within a person. The National Society of Leadership has motivated me ? alongside thousands of students nationwide ? to lead in life. At the end of the day, if one does not fall asleep with a smile on one's face, is one truly happy? Has one really succeeded if constantly attempting to conform to certain expectations? Sometimes living life a bit extravagantly and outside of the boundaries will initiate authentic leadership. With each passing day, I see myself as a strong fire that is increasingly ignited by the positive things in life. The National Society of Leadership and Success is one of several "fuels" which will maintain my fire illuminated for the better.