Accomplishment: Speaker of the Senate
Major: Art: Visual Communication, English
Antonia Davidson says that she found Graceland “by accident.”
“I went to a college fair and Graceland was just another booth. I filled out an information card, just like I did with every other university, and moved on,” said Antonia.
Yet, while Graceland started out as one of many schools, it slowly began to emerge as a real contender when she applied for Graceland’s Honors Program.
“[My Honors application] asked to think in ways other colleges weren’t challenging me to think. It was intriguing,” said Antonia.
So Antonia made the decision to attend one of Graceland’s Academic Honors’ Days. After interviewing with Honors Director Bob Mesle, as well as a panel of Honors Students, Antonia knew she liked what she saw—and so did the Honors Program. By the time she was offered the prestigious Honors Scholarship, Antonia’s mind was made up—she was Graceland-bound.
Three years later, Honors remains an integral part of Antonia’s Graceland experience; however, Antonia isn’t a one-subject woman—her reach branches out far beyond her Honors requirements. Antonia’s involvement includes Outreach International, the Association of Computing Machinery, the campus newspaper, The Tower, where she’s a writer, the Art Student Society and perhaps most notably, her current position as Graceland’s Speaker of the Senate. (Hear Antonia talk about her work as Speaker here.)
“The leadership opportunities at Graceland are numerous. With our small campus, it means that you really have a wealth of leadership options,” said Antonia.
"Graceland doesn′t see a difference between leadership and community. Here, you don′t lead in a vacuum; you lead with other students and with the help of everyone else."
As Speaker of Senate, Antonia says, she’s gained experience she can carry on into the professional world. From undergoing leadership training, to practicing her active listening skills, to managing a budget of over $25,000, Antonia has learned what it truly means to become a leader.
“I’ve figured out how to act as a good representative of my peers and how to help my peers work well as a group. I’ve also learned the importance of stepping back, so I can teach other people to become a leader. My job isn’t just to impart information—it’s to impart experience and skills,” said Antonia.
And it’s not just Antonia’s leadership skills that have improved—Antonia says the close connections with her professors have helped her work on her mental health and motivated her to succeed in the classroom.
“Something I love here is that the professors are willing to see you as another scholar, someone worthy of respect. Jerry [Denuccio, Professor of English] asks his students to call him by his first name because his students help him understand literature just as much as he helps them. Students and faculty here have a deep level of respect for each other; it’s a two-way relationship,” said Antonia.
As Antonia’s Graceland experience continues, she is looking forward to the leadership opportunities next year. In the meantime, she hopes to continue her summer internship with a Community of Christ campground.
“Leadership here is so achievable. The professors boost you to take up leadership roles and your peers encourage you along the way. You realize you can do it.”