Good leadership visions come from great leaders with even greater dreams. Such leaders do not serve others under petty pretenses; they work towards a larger contribution to society. Additionally, the best leaders have true passion that drives their work. I have only begun to unearth my passion and potential, but I know that I hold a sincere interest in the betterment of children. Keeping in mind the examples set by leaders of purpose, I hope to improve the lives of handicapped children.
My brother Dominic
As previously mentioned in my passion essay, my interest in aiding children comes from my brothers, especially my brother Dominic who was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy. After identifying where to focus my energy, I had to determine the best way to materialize a meaningful leadership vision. My vision will be implemented in two manners. First, I will help disabled children on an individual basis. This hope can become realized by setting a series of manageable goals and working my way into the medical field. The second part of my vision will support the handicapped on a broader community-centered scale. This part of my vision requires more creativity and innovation, and a set of stretch goals.
Mother Teresa profoundly encouraged others not to “wait for a leader; do it alone, person by person.” In this manner, I hope to lead by example and better the lives of children one by one as a pediatrician. In order to become the example I hope to spread, I need to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to fill an occupation that will allow me to do so. As a pediatrician, I can work in a hands-on setting with mentally disabled children. Providing the treatment for even one handicapped child would be a worthwhile cause. Acquisition of such skills can be obtained through manageable goals I set throughout my collegiate academic career.
A good doctor is a well rounded person.
Under the Plan II curriculum, I study in two both liberal arts and the natural sciences. Liberal arts courses help build an ability to connect with others. Consider a doctor who has spent the last 10 years of his life enveloped by his academic work. If a successful student, the new doctor would be able to give a proper diagnosis given the correct symptoms. However, whether a doctor or not, successful leaders have to connect with the people they work with. Without empathy, a doctor is missing the vital “human” component of his job: to understand a patient’s emotional, physical, and mental state. The plan II world literature and philosophy courses serve to expand my understanding of peoples’ thoughts and ideals. Through great works of fiction and philosophical logic, I can better understand the inner workings of a person’s psyche. Specifically, the fostering of emotional intelligence in my world literature class is a rarely addressed subject that will prove invaluable to my understanding of people both integral and distant from my occupation. The ability to listen and the ability to follow complicated directions are other skills that my world literature class focuses on. Obviously, a skilled physician must be able to listen to the problems of a patient in order to provide them with the care they need. My science courses serve a different objective. I must learn the basics of biology, chemistry, and physics not only to gain admission to medical school, but also to build the foundation needed to absorb the thousands of details taught in medical school. Other courses that may at first seem like a hindrance like fine and performing arts requirements would still prove beneficial. As Dass points out, “a growing burden of personal responsibility leads to exhaustion and frustration.”
 Taking history and arts courses will prevent the burnout that correlates with leadership and service.
Manageable goals beyond schoolwork during college include volunteering at the Dell Children’s Hospital, University Health Services Center, participating in laboratory research and embarking on a medical mission in South America. Working at the Dell Children’s Hospital will provide interaction with children that will not only bring aid to sick children, but also will confirm my passion and provide experience helpful towards my leadership vision. Volunteering at the University Health Services Center will teach me what it is like at the bottom of the medical profession totem pole. Robert Greenleaf once stated, “good leaders must first become good servants.” As a volunteer at the university, I will be working hand and foot for the nurses and patients they serve. The experience will undoubtedly help me empathize with the same kind of people I would interact with in a professional setting. Participating in laboratory research will fuel more hopeful long-term goals like finding cures for chronic children conditions. Participating in a medical mission to South America will help me keep things in perspective. By understanding how blessed a life I have been granted, I can better serve those who are not as fortunate.
After working my way through my short-term goals and reaching a position where I can provide medical care to children on a daily basis, I can best serve by example. Either through a private practice or large hospital, I would provide invasive care to adolescents blighted with neurological diseases. Helping each child one by one reminds me of the man “throwing starfish back into the ocean….mak[ing] a difference for that one.” As a doctor I would be devoting my time to a cause greater than myself. While not as easily recognized as leadership, helping people on a smaller scale is definitely leadership by example. Still, I hope to go even further.
With true passion and willingness to lead others towards a greater cause, my interest in serving children will hopefully extend past my occupation. After obtaining the proper financial backing, I plan on forming a local charitable organization with a very specific outreach. At this point, my manageable goals are not enough to drive my dreams. The path to becoming a doctor can be walked through defined steps, toil, and determination, but the formation of a non-profit charitable organization requires that “ability to think outside to box” as stated by the P4 instructions. I will form a society of Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders (APND). The group will be a non-profit charitable organization that increases awareness of children with hampering neurological disorders, provides funds for care, and works to raise money for research in the greater Austin area. My current tutorial course, Pathways to Civic Engagement, discusses all the major topics pertaining to my idea: justice, healthcare, entrepreneurship, education, place, and innovation. Of course, a simple freshman course does not even scratch the surface of such a stretch goal. Regardless, I am positive my undergraduate education will ignite the flame of passion I need to tackle such a massive community endeavor.
Although a premature prototype, I have outlined the model of Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders. The society would focus on bringing relief to children with autism, mental retardation, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Tourette’s and rare neurological disorders. Funding will start on a smaller scale by obtaining capital from individual doctors willing to contribute to the cause. With enough advertising, additional money could be provided by private sponsors and altruistic individuals. Beyond expanding the organization, a majority of the revenue will be spent providing material needs for low-income families with disabled children. Families will be supplied with wheelchairs, formula, medicine, and any other goods that they need but cannot afford. Leftover capital would be channeled to the already existing Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation Laboratories. The research foundation is part of the Texas Children’s Hospital and would utilize the money to, as the foundation states, “uncover the basic causes of presently incurable and devastating neurological disorders in infants and young children.” With financial aid being provided to socioeconomically disadvantaged families, neurological research and organizational outreach, Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders will strengthen the community fight against Neurological disorders in the Austin area.
My work as a pediatrician in conjunction with the foundation of Advocates for Pediatric Neurological Disorders will allow me to serve as the leader who helps the needy on an individual basis, and as the leader who tackles the big picture. Over a dozen children a day could be diagnosed in a clinical setting, and hundreds of children with ruinous medical conditions could be given aid otherwise not affordable through the APND. Who knows? The charitable organization could find enough success to spread beyond the Austin area and increase awareness and relief across Texas and even the U.S. Currently I must focus on my manageable goals here in college, but still keep in mind the aspirations of my long-term goals. As I learn to empathize, become a citizen of the world, and further my scientific knowledge, I do so with a sense of purpose. Despite unavoidable setbacks, failures, and roadblocks, I approach my leadership vision in the hope of leaving the world a better place than I found it.
The best leader is the best servant:
Word Count With Quotes: 1487
Word Count Without Quotes: 1438
Dass, Ram, and Paul Gorman. How Can I Help? Stories and Reflection on Service
. New York: Knopf, 1985.