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In 2018 Sarah Taketa graduated from Newbury Park High School in the top 5% of her class. Today, she is a sophomore at the University of Southern California (USC), where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science and a minor in organizational leadership and management. Upon completion of her degree, Taketa plans to incorporate business and behavior into her career path so as to make an impact through organizational psychology. She is motivated to create change and serve her surrounding communities by helping individuals and teams become the best versions of themselves. Sarah is especially interested in the integration of emotional intelligence and an emphasis on diversity in the corporate setting.
This bright young lady currently works as a Campus Brand Manager for Hulu, is a student worker at USC, and is a research assistant for two campus labs involving motivation, emotion and cognition. She is working towards being published in a study on the effects of social media in relation to classroom engagement of high school students. Proudly, she has made the Dean’s List, is the president of the Cognitive Science Honors Society, Omega Psi, and plays on two successful intramural co-ed volleyball teams. Sarah’s favorite course in college so far has been Interpersonal Competence and Development, where she developed a love for the pursuit of self-awareness and solidified her passion in organizational behavior.
Taketa has had profound involvement with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute since she first attended the Student Leadership Program (SLP) in 2016. While participating in SLP she created a Leadership Action Plan to establish a service project called Teens Teach Tech. This project bridges generational gaps using intentional interactions of high schoolers to help senior citizens with technology. Taketa accredits that memorable summer spent with the program as the true start to her leadership journey. In the summer of 2017, she returned as a volunteer Ambassador in SLP. As an Ambassador, she had the opportunity to mentor students who were creating their own Leadership Action Plans, learn new skills and truly harness her leadership qualities. Later that year, she led a leadership breakout session for students during the Reagan Leadership Summit, and in 2018 she became a scholarship recipient of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Scholars Program. Since then, Taketa has returned to Reagan EDU as an Intern and will be doing so again in the summer of 2020 as a Lead Intern.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?
We cannot be expected to know the best path immediately. Embrace setbacks, welcome the uncertainty, and try to absorb as much as possible from experience. Be open to feedback and ask for feedforward. It is important to set a tone of vulnerability and seek out constructive criticism for your own personal goals, as well as the overall success of whatever the position is. Strive to keep a growth-oriented mindset and approach each day as a student equipped with empathy and gratitude.
What are you doing now to ensure growth for the future?
I try to seek out opportunities that will make me uncomfortable and force upward growth. I cultivate relationships that continue to inspire, challenge, and support me as I navigate whatever comes next.
What is something you want to improve on or help guide someone else to improve on?
I think mindfulness is crucial right now, as we are surrounded by a quick paced and competitive environment. I want to improve on my self-awareness and my own journey in emotional intelligence. I think it is important for others to emphasize soft skills.
Who has inspired you to lead?
My mother embodies all the qualities I believe a leader should possess. For as long as I can remember, she has pushed herself to achieve more in every role she stepped into and empowers me to see the value in myself. She has and will continue to inspire me to be a leader as she pours into everyone around her and consistently demonstrates selflessness, ambition, grace, empathy, intelligence, and so much more.