Joseph Crichton, Youth Focus Writer
Western Bureau:After a successful 2012 as the campus chairman for the Guild of Students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona-Western Jamaica campus, the highly motivated and ambitious 22-year-old Odaine Thomas is now looking forward to an equally successful 2013.
Leadership is not something new to the Cornwall College past student, who has been occupying various positions since he was 12 years old. According to him, he uses each new experience to add to his personal development.
"During my time as a student at Cornwall College, I was a student councillor and a peer counsellor," said Thomas. "In addition, I served as subprefect, prefect and deputy head boy. These experiences served as training for my current position at the university level."
The role of campus chairman for the Guild of Students has its challenges as it requires good interpersonal skills and the competence to make tough decisions - qualities Thomas believed his peers saw and so elected him to serve.
"Getting the opportunity to improve or make a difference in the students' university experience and being an ambassador for the UWI … are among the gratifying experiences that make this position fun and fulfilling," said Thomas, who is majoring in psychology.
Student life and leadership responsibilities can be burdensome at times, and for young Thomas, he still finds time to go to the movies, party, unwind at the beach, or socialise. This, Thomas said, requires meticulous planning and time management.
KEY TO LEADERSHIP
"I do believe a part of being a great leader is having the ability to delegate responsibilities effectively, and I have a team of effective, hard-working individuals on my campus committee who undertake various responsibilities as it relates to student affairs," said Thomas. "So there's no overlapping of student roles and my responsibilities as a chairman."
In offering advice to other young leaders who might find themselves in challenging positions, Thomas said the key is being goal-oriented and proactive.
"My advice to young leaders is … if you have a goal, and you are confident, you can achieve it; regardless of how dumb it may seem, go for it! Do not allow yourself to believe that you cannot.
"Rid yourself of negative individuals from your immediate social group and do not succumb to the pressures of following others," added Thomas.