Leadership and Me

My name is Ethan Shulman, and I just finished my freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh. I am a part of the Swanson School of Engineering where I am majoring in Civil Engineering. Additionally, I am pursuing the Sustainability Certificate. I was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland which is about thirty minutes outside of Washington, D.C. While I have enjoyed numerous different hobbies throughout my life, recently I have most enjoyed playing video games, practicing my photography skills, and playing golf with my father and brother.

After spending a year at Pitt, I can say that my favorite part being a student here is being a part of the Pittsburgh community. When I first came to Pittsburgh, I had no idea how strong the Pittsburgh community was. Everyone I met was so proud to be from the area and as I explored the city with my friends, it became clear that was a universal truth across the whole city. Despite only being in Pittsburgh for two semesters, I can already say that I am proud to call the city my home for at least the next 3 years.

I chose to participate in this course because I want to build on my existing leadership skills so I can become a better leader and teammate in my future undertakings as an undergraduate and further down the line as a professional. As an engineer, most of my future work will come in the form of projects that require extensive coordination and collaboration with other engineers. Thus, I need to make sure I can be the best teammate I can be. I believe participating in this program will help teach me the skills I need to become a better leader and follower. I am hoping that my participation in this course will help me develop my ability to act effectively in a group setting by improving my decision making, problem solving, and communication skills to help my team and I reach our goals.

At different points in my life, I have come across different perspectives and ideas of leadership, but one has stuck with me the most. Personally, I consider leadership most akin to being a role model. I am a strong believer that leaders should lead by example. They should not ask something of their followers that they would not do themselves. Our leaders should be the best of us and be able to bring out the best in all of us. The most prominent examples of this that I have encountered in my life, were some of my favorite teachers in high school. Everyone had a favorite teacher in high school and many of those teachers share the same crucial traits, behaviors, and skills. All our favorite teachers heard us out and they tried as best they could to understand what we were going through and ran their classrooms accordingly. While they maintained their status as the head of the class, they were still able to give each student a voice and made sure to practice what they preached. In comparison, these characteristics were not likely found in those teachers not everyone seemed to dislike. Leadership is about raising everyone around you up and yourself. An effective leader builds a team around them rather than creating a hierarchy below them.

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