LeaderShape Institute Graduate Named 2017 Leader of the Pack

The Leader of the Pack announcement is shrouded in secrecy. A recipient is selected by the Wednesday of Red and White Week and finalists eagerly anticipate the reveal the following Saturday at the annual homecoming game.

Victor Eduardo’s inquisitive nature had him spending the better half of the day trying to pick up tidbits of information that would point him to which finalist would be named the 2017 Leader of the Pack, the sixteenth recipient of the award.

Finalists were called onto the field during the halftime of the NC State University homecoming game versus Clemson to hear the announcement.

“When they said my name, I sort of just blacked out. It was an adrenaline rush,” said Eduardo, a junior from Morrisville, North Carolina majoring in philosophy. “My award was backwards and (Vice Chancellor and Dean for Academic and Student Affairs) Mike Mullen was like, ‘Turn the award for the picture,’ and I was like, ‘What?’”

The Leader of the Pack is an award that recognizes students who have made outstanding contributions to NC State in the areas of leadership, scholarship and community service. Finalists are selected based on a combination of written essays on their leadership and service experience, co-curricular involvement, a personal interview, grade-point average, and a student-body vote.

Eduardo made it to the interview round of selections last year, calling it “the most terrifying interview ever.” With encouragement from his partner Matt Hickson, a graduate student in the College of Education, he applied again with another year of growth behind him.

“I went into (the interview) this year without note cards and I was like, ‘I’m just going to tell stories,’” said Eduardo.

His stories told of his achievements and his passion for leadership and serving his peers. Eduardo currently serves on the leadership team for Diversity Education for our Peers to THrive (DEPTH), a grassroots peer-to-peer-led diversity and inclusion education program where peer educators facilitate workshops with sororities, fraternities, professors and other campus organizations and groups about facilitating difficult dialogues around topics like diversity, inclusion, marginalization, and oppression.

“People tend to be a little more closed off towards top-down diversity initiatives because they are like, ‘What is this? Why should it matter to me?’ whereas peer-to-peer initiative is believed to be, and so far it has been, that people are more receptive to it,” said Eduardo. Eduardo was recruited to work with DEPTH last year at its inception and moved into leadership for the program when the former director transferred.

Eduardo’s personal philosophy is that the beginning of something sets the foundation for what is to come. Of all of the initiatives and programs he has spearheaded at NC State, his most rewarding experience was as an orientation leader helping students transition at the beginning of their undergraduate careers.

“You are working with this entire incoming generation of first-year students, this entire iteration of the Wolfpack. As an orientation leader, you are the first face they see when they get to State,” said Eduardo. “It is really empowering and humbling at the same time that I can have such a profound impact on someone coming into State.” Eduardo similarly worked as a resident mentor in the Exploratory Studies Village mentoring and supporting first-year students.

Attending the LeaderShape Institute through the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics & Public Service was a pivotal personal growth experience that shaped Eduardo as a leader.

“LeaderShape, aside from introducing me to an awesome new family of people, challenged me in all the best ways,” said Eduardo. “It taught me how to embody servant leadership and to stop making excuses for myself in accomplishing my goals. It taught me the importance of not just having values, but holding true to them – how to find my internal compass and use it to guide me, so to speak.”

The support of the Wolfpack for Eduardo has been overwhelming.

“It is so empowering to see that I have made a difference in so many of my peers’ lives that they feel moved to congratulate me or say things like, ‘You deserve it,’” said Eduardo.

“I have been feeling a lot of gratitude,” said Eduardo. “I realize it is not just me. I have been supported by so many people up until now — so many people and so many friends who helped me get to where I am today that it is like an award for us.”

The LeaderShape Institute is an intensive and energizing six-day program offered annually to sixty student participants who are challenged to lead with integrity while working towards a vision grounded in their deepest values. The 2018 LeaderShape Institute will take place May 15th through May 20th, 2018. Applications open in early February.

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