It doesn't take a president to be a leader. Leaders descend on this earth as priests, teachers, veterinarians. But they start as students.
When incoming Rim Country Middle School eighth-grader Janine Tantimonaco travels to Washington, D.C. in October for the People to People World Leadership Forum, she will meet like-minded youth and learn and internalize the skills to lead --o matter what her chosen occupation.
The six-day journey will include tours of Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court, a talk with a congressman, and journeys through the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and to Virginia to see the Jamestown Settlement.
Past speakers to the group of young leaders include journalist Tom Brokaw, former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Janine finds leadership inspiration from Martin Luther King Jr. "I liked how he stood up for what he believed in and how he had the dedication to do what he wanted to do," she said. "I liked his leadership styles."
Included in the packet of information sent from People to People to Janine was a list of different types of leadership styles. That of power and intrinsic motivation most intrigued her -- she highlighted the terms in her thick packet of study materials -- but "it's a little hard to be one or two."
Power includes the ability to delegate responsibility and the desire to be in charge. Self-initiation characterizes intrinsic motivation.
To be a good leader, one must also demonstrate the pillars of character, which include trustworthiness, respect and fairness.
A set of discussion questions Janine must answer before she arrives in Washington, D.C. requires her to contemplate her own leadership abilities along with those of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who started the program during his presidency along with prominent leaders of the time, including Walt Disney.
Janine was nominated for the program by her science teacher. "My teacher picked me because of academics and he thinks I am a good leader," Janine, whose favorite subject is math, said.
The trip costs $2,295 and does not include airfare. The Tantimonacos are raising money for the trip and anyone interested in donating can call St. Paul's Episcopal Church at (928) 474-3834. Janine's father, Dan, serves as reverend there.
Dan noted, "being a leader is not about doing it yourself, it's about empowering others." Janine, for her part, is the president of the area Builders Club, which is the youth version of Kiwanis International.
But her experiences aren't carved by political ambitions. She wants to one day run her own medical clinic for pandas. "You don't have to be in politics," to be a leader, she said.