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When Alexis Lenderman graduates from Western Michigan University, she will be among the mere three percent of foster youth that graduate college. A lone degree won’t cut it, either, for this rising superstar. She’ll walk away with two bachelor’s degrees -- a BBA in Entrepreneurship and a BA in Global and International Studies -- along with a concentration in humanitarianism and African studies, a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership, and a minor in Political Science. When she first transferred to WMU, she was awarded the Seita Scholarship, a program for foster youth and higher education. These experiences ingrained invaluable global perspectives in her life and gave her greater insight on sustainability, business ethics, international humanitarianism, Spanish, and global marketing. To finalize her international collegiate experience, in summer 2019 she will participate in a research-intensive study abroad to Senegal followed by the TFAS Hong Kong program.
In 2017, Alexis was selected as her university’s sole nomination for the 2017 Newman Civic Fellowship. This honor helped her become one of only two students to receive a full scholarship from the Ronald Reagan Foundation to participate in the Leadership and the American Presidency program in Washington D.C. While there, she interned at the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute and attended courses at George Mason University. In 2018, Alexis was invited to present at the Reagan Leadership Summit and at several fundraisers to raise money for foster youth such as the Nsoro Starfish Ball, the Bravo Scholarship Gala, and the Hope Pkgs fashion show.
In addition to the honors above, during her undergraduate career Alexis was inducted into Lee Honors College and the National Society of Leadership and Success; she received scholarships from the Bravo Programs of America, the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the Horatio Alger Association, and the Nsoro Foundation, and she was awarded the Presidential Scholar Award from the Management and the Global Studies department at WMU and the FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader Award.
Alexis aspires to be a positive example to other youth who have experienced similar foster situations and seeks an international career.
What does leadership mean to you?
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,” was said by John Quincy Adams. This is how I try to live each and every day through all of my decisions, goals, and dreams. I was also told to lead and live as if your legacy depends on it – because it does. The personal traits or attributes that are essential to leaders are integrity, moral commitment, transparency, compassion, consistency, and resilience.
Can you name a person who has made a tremendous impact on you as a leader and why?
Without a doubt, a person who has made a tremendous impact on me is my foster mom. She is the epitome of a role model for me. She exemplifies unconditional love, kindness, generosity, and a moral commitment. Through her, I’ve learned what selflessness, leadership through service and integrity means. In this world, it’s much easier to lack all of these things to get ahead in life, but she’s proven to me that only through our commitment to these things are we truly a leader and worthy of that position.
What are you reading right now?
Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo
What is the difference between living and existing?
“At some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. Instead of creating the future, we start repeating the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic. Our date of death is not the date etched on our tombstone. The day we stop dreaming is the day we start dying.” – Mark Batterson
What would you say to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Remember that I am human and I make mistakes but I will never stop learning from those mistakes. Also, to seek out mentors who’ve accomplished similar things that you’d like to accomplish or simply they have a skill/trait that you’d like to obtain. Learning from others around us is critical for growth. In addition, I fundamentally believe in sharing our story because it can give others the courage to share theirs.