Updated: Oct 28, 2021
By: Jose Matute
Jose Matute is a senior from Clinton, North Carolina majoring in Political Science and Pre-Law. The first-generation student, who is also a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, was nominated as president of the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs (WCSA) in May 2020.
WCSA President Jose Matute ‘21 with WCSA Vice-President Autumn Ford ‘22
Throughout my college career, I have been exposed to many leadership opportunities that I am thankful for. My parents instilled the belief in me at a young age that you will not be judged by your popularity, network, or connections, but by what you do for others.
This belief is what has motivated me to seek leadership opportunities. Opportunities that allow me to think critically and offer my diverse perspective, with the goal of enhancing people’s experience in whatever capacity I am serving. Thus, with that advice and throughout my term as president, I have sought to make OWU a more equitable tomorrow: a place where every student feels as if they belong and opportunities are open to all.
On this path, the most valuable leadership lesson that I have acquired has been through my time as president of the student body; the first Hispanic president in OWU history. The impact of this realization made me take a step back and believe that even if I am the first to do or accomplish many things, I must ensure that I am not the last.
Understanding that people of color have often been left out of critical conversations, I have learned that when I break a glass ceiling or when a door opens for someone who looks like me for the first time, I must ensure that I leave it open wider for those who come after me.
Throughout my time as the student body president, I have made it my mission to mentor people—particularly those from marginalized communities. In my conversations with the people that I mentor, a theme often emerges of a hesitancy to run for positions or to put themselves out there in places they can make real tangible change, such as the student government. The roots of this hesitancy are often found in the fact that they, too, have never seen anyone like them in those positions of leadership on a decision-making level.
The reason I am so motivated to mentor people to get involved in public service is the most important leadership lesson I have acquired as president: one has to see what can be achieved by the example of what has already been.
This lesson is so critical and valuable not only from a representational perspective but because people from different demographics, backgrounds, and livelihoods bring diverse thoughts to the table. In any leadership position, the aim should always be to enhance the environment that you represent. In order to approach challenges head-on and make innovative decisions that will yield equitable results, there must be a seat for everyone. Particularly, diverse people hailing from and representing different communities at the table to highlight nuances and offer their unique perspectives.
Therefore, this leadership lesson is applicable to any position or organization that one may be a part of and is one that I will ensure to keep on pushing forward in my future endeavors. Hence, I encourage those who seek leadership positions within or beyond the OWU community to join me in this call to action to create more equity in the spaces we find ourselves in.