In our ongoing series “Beyond YGL,”  we learn how alumni of our Youth Global Leadership program are creating positive change locally and globally. YGL co-founder and alum extraordinaire Aleiya Evison currently attends the University of Oregon and is the Leadership Development Assistant at the Holden Center.  In this interview, she shares her thoughts on her new position and more! 

Congrats on your new role at the Holden Center! What do you think were the steps that helped you get this position?

I found out about my current position after attending one of the Holden Center’s programs this summer. It was an experience called the LeaderShape Institute, which is kind of like camp for college kids who want to change the world. We spent a week at a camp in the woods talking about leadership, our personal ambitions, and action plans that would allow us to make change happen once we were back on campus. When I found out the Holden Center was hiring I knew it would be a great opportunity to engage further with an awesome community. I originally applied for an Office Assistant position, but after talking to the Center’s Assistant Director, I had the opportunity to step into an entirely new position that was created this year. I am now the Leadership Development Assistant, and I love it!

If one of your friends asked you about the Holden Leadership Center and you only had a minute to respond, what would you tell him/her/them?

The Holden Center is a place that strives to encourage community engagement. We want students at the University of Oregon to feel like they have access to leadership and service opportunities that empower them to be changemakers in our community and beyond.

What is an initiative or project that you are working on at the Holden Center that inspires you right now?

It’s not exactly a project, but next week I am going to Los Angeles for a conference at Loyola Marymount University with two of my coworkers. It’s called the IMPACT conference, and it’s mission is “to connect, educate, and mobilize college students, nonprofit professionals, and educators to strengthen their communities through service, action, and advocacy.” I’m incredibly excited for this experience, and can’t wait to learn as much as possible!

What advice would you give current Youth Global Leaders – and other youth seeking to create positive social change – that would help them to one day have a role like the one that you have at Holden?

The best advice I could give is to follow your intuition and plug into experiences/people/places that make you feel alive and excited. Don’t become involved with something just because you think you are supposed to, or because it might look good on paper. When we are empowered, we thrive, and I believe this happens by connecting to opportunities and people that provide a space for us to be creative, supported, and passionate. I’ve found that although sometimes in practice it is can be frustrating, patience is also extraordinarily important, especially in college. It can feel overwhelming when we feel as though we haven’t found our “thing” or our place in the world. But if you can just focus on doing the things you intuitively love, the right people and opportunities will come your way.

Anything else you want us to know about you, your work at Holden, or leadership in general?

I honestly believe that the most important parts of leadership stem from drawing on self-compassion. If we can be real with ourselves but also loving with ourselves, we are far more likely to influence other people in the most positive way possible.