MCC leaders share their words

A glance on the calendar will tell you Monday, Feb. 15, is Presidents' Day.

This federal holiday has morphed from a day to honor the country’s first president to now an observance of the nation’s top leaders. The day also leads to a question: What does it take to be a good president? MCC leaders share their views.

For Michaela Washington, president of the Student Association of Early Childhood Profession, dedication is essential. “You have to have a great attitude, positive mindset, and never give up on a goal you have worked so hard for,” Washington, 20, who’s birthday is on Presidents’ Day, is from Pearl.

Communication is a common denominator, too. “To be able to receive information, then turn it around and give it out to those we are to lead is important,” said Natalie Gulczynski, president of the Student Association of Dental Hygiene Association. Gulczynski, 22, is from Poplarville.

The Medical Assisting Technology Students President Christie Roberts echoed those sentiments. “You must have personality, understanding and know-how to communicate and listen to your classmates. Them knowing that you are with them and that you will always be there to help comforts them and reassures them that things will be okay,” she said. Roberts, 29, is from Meridian.

A good president has to be strong and confident but also selfless, Gulczynski said, noting that empathy is vital. “Because we are all here for the same thing, a better education,” she said.

Roberts said, “good presidents all have a sense of knowing the greater good. There are things in life you don’t want to do, such as go to work or do loads of homework, but you know you need to do it for the greater good. Getting it done always helps you out in the end.”

Taking charge is also a component of being a president, noted Lucas Thomas. Thomas, 20, from Meridian, is president of MCC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the academic honor society.

“Whatever adversity is presented to the constituency, it is imperative that a good president promptly addresses the needs, values and benefits of the community at large. Good presidents are also very involved with the people he/she represents by getting to know what is important to them and their personal success,” Thomas said.

He added, “presidents are in the service of people, not the other way around.”

MCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner said the best presidents he’s served are sensitive communicators. “They’re great listeners and have the ability to understand the underlying emotions associated with the messages they receive.”

Being able to connect with others is important but especially vital for leaders. “At the end of the day, this isn’t a job. It’s a choice I made to serve a community of learners. Hopefully that spirit is evident in how I respond to challenges and encourage forward momentum,” Dr. Huebner said.

Different campus groups have their top leaders responsible for various tasks – from disseminating information, leading club discussion to ensuring that volunteer service hours are performed. Though extra work is added to the president’s to-do-list, the rewards are bountiful.

“Being in a position where you can see the lives of others improve because of the hard work you put in is extremely magical, and it has allowed me to fall in love with public service,” Thomas said.

Dr. Huebner summed it this way: "On a practical level, becoming a president meant I had to be flexible and willing to walk through open doors and not get too discouraged by closed ones. Being prepared, in terms of credentials and experiences, matters greatly, of course, but it's also important to be ready when it's time to step forward. Trust me, I was never a spectacular athlete, but I like a sports analogy when I describe leadership: When the game is on the line, you want to be the person who wants to carry the ball."