“As a leader, you are constantly being watched by other people,” Union College nursing student Milka Mendoza Sanchez says. “You have to think about how you present yourself. How will people see God in you?”
As a student at Union in Lincoln, Nebraska, United States, Milka is kept busy by her academics, but she also finds time to play on the women’s basketball and soccer teams, serve as Family Worship (Friday night vespers) coordinator for Campus Ministries, and work as a residential assistant in Rees Hall, the women’s residence hall. “Leading is something I like doing,” she says. In fact, Milka enjoys leadership so much that she made it her college minor. Union offers a minor in leadership that can be paired with any major in any discipline.
Last semester, Milka took Creative Leadership taught by Stacy Stocks, Union’s dean of students. “I expected to come in, sit and listen to lectures without getting any hands-on education,” Milka says. “But I had the opposite experience. Dean Stocks showed us a different godly perspective of leadership. We had projects planning leadership retreats and leading out on and off campus. Everything in class taught us about leadership from different perspectives.”
When Milka signed up for Creative Leadership, she was already familiar with what it took to lead. While she was in high school at Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado, she served first as a class officer, then as a student chaplain. “When I started being involved in leading, I thought you had to have the label of leadership to be a leader,” she says. “But Dean Stocks taught us that you don’t have to have a label to be a leader. You can be a leader simply by saying ‘hi’ to someone. You just have to ask yourself the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ ”
“Although being a student chaplain in high school was a good growing experience, I had been struggling with my spiritual life,” Milka says. “I always seemed to have things happening to me. I felt like saying, ‘Why me? I’m trying so hard to be a good person and a good leader!’”
Milka credits Creative Leadership with adjusting her perspective. “Creative Leadership 100 percent changed how I view my spirituality and God,” she says. “We learned that there’s no such thing as a perfect leader. We all struggle with our spiritual life and that’s OK, but we know that God is going to be by our sides no matter what. I knew this already, but this class opened my eyes to the full depth of what that meant.”
Milka plans to use her leadership skills in the medical field after she graduates, eventually becoming a midwife. “I’ll be the first out of my family to attend college and graduate with a degree,” she says. “I always ask myself, ‘What am I going to leave behind?’ I don’t care about the legacy of what I did; I care about whether or not people see God in me.”