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Weston Boardman is a senior George Washington Fellow at Hillsdale College studying Economics and conducting research on John Quincy Adams’ foreign policy philosophy. His dedication for leadership and drive to work with others is exemplified by taking on the role of Ritual Chair of the Alpha Kappa chapter of Sigma Chi at his college. He also helped found the first Citizens for Self-Governance Club in the country. Wanting to share the leadership skills he has learned, Weston took on the role of the Intern Coordinator for the Convention of States Project. Here he leads a remote internship called the Emerging Leaders Program which seeks to create servant leaders with the skill sets necessary to effectively influence others in a selfless manner.
The Student Leadership Program was Weston’s first exposure to the Reagan Foundation. He remembers attending in 2014 and credits the program for helping identify and develop his ability to become a leader. Interested in working with the Foundation once more, Weston returned in 2017 to speak at the Reagan Leadership Summit and volunteered for the Reagan National Defense Forum.
All these experiences have taught Weston the importance of building relationships and putting others before himself. He labors to fulfill his duties and make sacrifices for others, not for self-glorification or accolades, but because that is what God calls on him to do. Weston attests his growth as a man and leader to his Catholic upbringing and faith, family, friends, especially Jack McPherson, and his mentors, among whom are Mr. Mark Meckler, Dr. Matt Spalding, and fraternity brother Brandon Gross.
He is now looking towards the future and has just completed Officer Candidate School this past summer. Weston will commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marines upon graduation in May 2020. Officer Candidate School is an intense and rigorous program to evaluate the mental, moral, and physical capabilities of individuals wanting to be leaders in the Marines. Weston decided to become a Marine out of his innate civic duty and love of country.
What would you say are qualities of a civic leader?
The civic leader’s self-interest seeks that which is best for both the spiritual and physical well-being of the community. They must have an authentic humility—one that neither boasts nor speaks disparagingly of their talents and abilities. Within a civic leader resides a servant’s heart and an ability to communicate effectively their vision and innermost sentiments. The civic leader labors out of love and relies heavily on the judgement and prudence of their mind and those around them. Both being just and appearing just are qualities needed, and they ultimately must remain principled and compassionate.
Who helped you grow into the person you are today?
The answer to this question would be an endless list of influential individuals — men and women who challenged me, loved me, and supported me throughout my life. First and foremost, my father and mother, John and Jamie Boardman, really have made possible everything I have done. They set high standards and strict expectations for behavior during my youth. At the time, I was not too pleased. However, looking back, I see that they were hard on me out of love and set the conditions needed for my mental and moral growth. Mark Meckler, the President of the Convention of States Project, has been a personal mentor and has taught me truly what it means to be a servant leader. My best friend, Jack McPherson, expanded my horizons and taught me how to be more human. Dr. Matthew Spalding taught me about prudence and how virtuous individuals lead inside and outside of politics. Brandon Gross gave me new tools to be a more versatile leader in interacting with those of different beliefs. The list goes on and on, but my close friends, Sigma Chi brothers, and the staff at the Reagan Library have also been integral in each step I took to become the man I am today.
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken?
Creating the Convention of States Project’s internship program has been the biggest risk of my lifetime. I was given the task and responsibility as a 19-year-old in college. I essentially had no experience in designing and implementing an internship program that would train the next generation of leaders. Not only that, but it is a program for an organization of 4 million grassroots volunteers. I was nervous and way out of my league. My coworkers were confident in my abilities but I often worried if I was doing well enough. Reflecting on the progress of the program and its transformation into the year-long Emerging Leaders Program, I ask myself, “How could I have ever said no?” Our interns are already going out, affecting change in our community and nation, and spreading the message of servant leadership to everyone they meet. Moreover, I continue to learn from each intern, my fellow patriots, and the incredible opportunities Convention of States has offered me. To those who feel in over their heads or believe they do not have the skill set for a certain job, I would say, “If you are a person of character and possess an attitude to learn, the aptitude and skills can always be acquired.”
What has been your greatest failure? What did you learn from it?
My greatest failure is a personal quality I still labor to remedy. I feel I am often closed off from others, even those closest to me. I am not naturally inclined to share my innermost thoughts and feelings, which previously caused me to seem robotic and distant. I have found ways to learn from this flaw and encourage myself to be more open with others because it creates a greater sense of trust between individuals. Courage starts with vulnerability.
What is your favorite meal?
Easy, lasagna. I could eat lasagna for dinner for the rest of my life if I was required.