At Paragon Leadership, one of our core values is developing “the future face of leadership.” We believe that understanding and developing next generation leaders is a vital part of every organization. We want to highlight and reward next gen leaders that we think stand out as role models to other young leaders as well as to mature executives. Everyone in a community has some wisdom to share, we want to make sure that young leaders are heard as well.
In this feature, Faces Leading the Future, we have chosen four next gen leaders of all ages that we think exemplifies the characteristics of a strong leader. These young people have stood out in their communities and we want to present their ideas to a much larger audience.
Students in Detroit inner-city schools face challenges above the average high school drama. “In Detroit we have issues of unemployment and literacy rates,” says Detroit International Academy principal Beverly Hibbler. “To stand out you really have to persevere, be strong. You have to not get caught up in what your peers do. You have to be able to set yourself apart from the others; to do the right thing regardless of what other people are doing. We try to convince young ladies to be just that.” Principal Hibbler chose Falah Muhammad as a student that works every day to do just that.
Falah Muhammad is a junior at the Detroit International Academy. Her spirit is instantly recognizable and her dedication to being successful is inspiring. She sees beyond the pressures of high school, beyond the constant challenges of life in Detroit. “I don’t just follow the crowd, I try to stand out! I try to do something different. I try to go the extra mile in all of my classes, make sure I have good grades. I want to leave a lot of accomplishments behind. And I have good relationships with good people.” She is very ambitious, a strong trait that she learned from her role model, her mother. She has a plan for herself to achieve her goals in life. “I think about what I want, then how do I get there? I need good grades, I’ve got to go to college, start my career and make money.”
She was recently voted the president of Trend Setters, a club for girls that want to do more with their life, that want to stay away from drugs, drinking, or dropping out of school. The founder of Trend Setters formed the club because “she didn’t want to be a statistic.” Falah is hoping that this year, in Trend Setters, she can organize a turkey drive for the poor, volunteer at a soup kitchen, host a Christmas party for autistic children, and clean up a park “when it’s warmer out!”
Falah also understands the importance of gratitude and giving back to the community that has supported her in her pursuit of success. She wants to stay in Detroit after graduating from college, to help her community. “My mom tells me: ‘Having a dream is nothing if you can’t help out the people that helped you.”
Falah has a caring heart and Principal Hibbler sees that as one of her strongest attributes. Falah and a friend of hers worked together to practice for a poetry reading contest with a $100 prize. They decided that it didn’t matter who won, they would split the prize money. Falah won and did just that, sharing the prize money with her friend. “This is what we expect young women to do. They were supportive of each other,” said Hibbler. Falah also had a friend that was denied acceptance into DIA because she did not have above a 2.0 GPA. Falah wrote a letter to Principal Hibbler and the DIA administration requesting them to consider accepting her friend. Falah made a commitment to do whatever she could to help her friend succeed at DIA and now stays after school to help tutor her friend, who was accepted into DIA because of Falah’s dedication to helping her. “That is what makes a good leader; someone who is willing to pull someone up with them, to put someone else in front of themselves.”