Skip to main content


What qualities make for a good leader? Twenty-three students share their role models' characteristics—​and photos.​

​​​​​​ ​​
23-bakersfield.jpg23-bakersfield6/26/2020 2:17 PMBakersfieldCSU Bakersfield
CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny is a leader I truly admire. Regardless of how difficult a situation may seem, she has the ability to make her team feel at ease. She has always been a great communicator and mentor. No matter a person’s status, she treats everyone equally and with respect.
Aaron Wan
23-channelislands.jpg23-channelislands6/26/2020 2:19 PMChannel IslandsCSU Channel Islands
The values my mom instilled in me are those I plan to use as a leader. I want to be a leader that realizes that it’s not just my voice but everyone’s voice that counts. I want to advocate for more equality and inclusion in our society.
Jessica Clay
23-chico.jpg23-chico7/8/2020 2:21 PMChicoChico State
I desire to be the type of leader who exhibits humble confidence. My papa was this way. He built from the ground up a strong, successful life for him and his family. He worked so hard and achieved so much but still managed to be personable and loving to all.
Bre Holbert
23-dominguezhills.jpg23-dominguezhills6/26/2020 2:19 PMDominguez HillsCSU Dominguez Hills
I want to follow in the footsteps of my high school counselor, Kelsey McDonald, and go above and beyond to make sure my students are meeting their needs. As a high school counselor, my goals will include motivating, inspiring and assisting my students to reach their goals.
Rogelio Larios
23-eastbay.jpg23-eastbay7/8/2020 2:20 PMEast BayCal State​ East Bay
Writer James Baldwin’s work has guided me to respond beyond the surface of challenges. He has not only taught me to love the skin that I am in but to also recognize that my ‘crown has been bought and paid for. All (I) must do, is put it on.'
King Burdett Jr.
23-fresno.jpg23-fresno6/26/2020 2:19 PMFresnoFresno State
As a young woman of color, [New York congresswoman] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is shattering stereotypes about what it means to be an American leader. Her progressive policies, advocacy for oppressed groups and commitment to social justice are qualities I admire in a leader.
Esra Hashem
23-fullerton.jpg23-fullerton7/9/2020 9:22 AMFullertonCal State Fullerton
If  the songs or scripts that I write can cause somebody to feel something, I would have achieved my goal. I strive to be a leader that makes sure my collaborators feel heard and motivated. The desire of jazz trumpeter Christian Scott [on my left] to build bridges with his music and incorporate his identity is inspiring.
Joey Hotta
23-humboldt.jpg23-humboldt6/26/2020 2:19 PMHumboldtHumboldt State
The leader I strive to be is Paul Nicklen. He uses his photography practice to educate the public about climate change, but in a less scientific way; his work and knowledge bridges that gap of understanding between scientists and your average person.
Jennifer Riess
23-longbeach.jpg23-longbeach7/8/2020 2:18 PMLong BeachCal State Long Beach
CSULB Communications Manager James Ahumada holds a special place in my life because he exemplifies a life of servant leadership and guides me as a CSULB alumna in helping our community of Long Beach. I wouldn’t be the leader I am today without his guidance.
Lizbeth Velasquez
23-losangeles.jpg23-losangeles6/26/2020 2:19 PMLos AngelesCal State LA
I want to become an educator who reaches students who wonder if they will ever be relevant to our collective story of scientific discovery. I want to write science fiction novels like those by Isaac Asimov. His work highlights the relationship between humans, artificial intelligence and the far-future of humanity.
Roberto Alexander Tejada
23-maritime.jpg23-maritime6/26/2020 2:19 PMMaritime AcademyCal Maritime
I want to lead by example and uplift others so they see their own value and their importance to the group as a whole. My grandfather fought for three branches of the military in three wars but never lost sight of the importance of compassion and empathy.
Shannon Stel
23-montereybay.jpg23-montereybay7/16/2020 4:22 PMMonterey BayCSU Monterey Bay
The leader I want to be is one that shows up by example and upholds high standards. I want to emulate my godfather, Eric Shaw. He always shows up, no matter what, and does what he needs to do to be there and help others be the best they can be.
Alyssa Noh
23-northridge.jpg23-northridge6/26/2020 2:19 PMNorthridgeCSUN​
My sister, Shadie, has always gone above and beyond for her community, helping people learn and grow while always standing her ground. Though we're very different, she has always inspired me. She is what a leader is to me: smart, understanding and stubborn when they need to be.
Cyrus Shafii
23-pomona.jpg23-pomona6/26/2020 2:19 PMPomonaCal Poly Pomona
The leader I most admire is Jane Goodall because of her intelligence, strong will and, mainly, her humbleness. I want to emulate her leadership traits of determination, passion and patience.
Alondra Bribiesca
23-sacramento.jpg23-sacramento7/8/2020 2:17 PMSacramentoSacramento State
I want to be strong enough to navigate the corporate jungle or hostile social environments, like abolitionist Sojourner Truth, so that others can travel down the least, but still successful, path of resistance. True leadership is removing barriers and supporting others so that they can achieve goals and dreams.
Donna “BasicTaq” Walters
23-sanbernardino.jpg23-sanbernardino6/26/2020 2:19 PMSan BernardinoCal State San Bernardino
I aspire to be a leader that leads with love and dignity, like my grandmother Bertolda Gomez Barrera. Leading with love will always set me on the right side of history; leading with dignity will allow me to make those tough choices with confidence and pride.
Adonis Galarza-Toledo
23-sandiego.jpg23-sandiego6/26/2020 2:19 PMSan DiegoSan Diego State
I have been inspired by Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first woman of color elected to Congress. She helped to author Title IX, which prevents discrimination in education on the basis of sex. I want to be a higher education professional who advances educational equity and increases access to higher education.
Liana Marin
23-sanfrancisco.jpg23-sanfrancisco6/26/2020 2:19 PMSan FranciscoSan Francisco State
I look up to [Brazilian novelist] Clarice Lispector. She was never afraid to write what was inside of her. I tell my students to take risks, always, and to write what excites them, even if it comes out in a voice they never thought they could use.
Ali Littman
23-sanjose.jpg23-sanjose6/26/2020 2:19 PMSan JoséSan José State
I want to fight for educational justice and inspire fellow underrepresented minorities in science to pursue their dreams. Author Bettina Love has inspired me to pursue a career as both a research scientist and educator―and someone who leads with compassion, honesty and integrity.
Alexandra Salazar
23-slo.jpg23-slo6/26/2020 2:19 PMSan Luis ObispoCal Poly San Luis Obispo
The leader I want to be is the embodiment of strength, courage, determination and compassion. Michelle Obama stepped outside first lady stereotypes to start her Let Girls Learn initiative. She inspires others to step forward with a voice. She has also shown her compassion for humankind.
Kat Ivey
23-sanmarcos.jpg23-sanmarcos7/8/2020 2:16 PMSan MarcosCSU San Marcos
I want to be the type of leader, like retired Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, that inspires others to never be complacent, to push for more and be the best person possible. Also, I want to be known as someone who instructs proper guidance and discipline to enhance success.
Chandler Oriente
23-sonoma.jpg23-sonoma6/26/2020 2:19 PMSonomaSonoma State
I want to become the teacher for children that I needed when I was a child. I want to be the strong female that my grandmother is, my mom has always been, and that every girl should be.
Alexis Everett
23-stanislaus.jpg23-stanislaus6/26/2020 2:19 PMStanislausStanislaus State
I look up to my dad, Steven Wynne, because he is an example for the firemen he works with. Being a leader means more than delegating tasks and duties. I lead by example as this empowers my team to create a vision and work toward our goal.
Christen Wynne
Know someone on your campus or in your community who should or would like to receive CSUniverse? Drop us a note with their email address at​.​