“If your actions inspire others to be more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are a leader.”
That is how former president John Quincy Adams defined a leader, and explains how Andrea Tyra, described by others as a quiet person, excels as president of Student Alumni Ambassadors at Eastern Kentucky University. “Leadership is making others want to strive to enrich their own lives,” Tyra observed.
Tyra, a junior marketing and criminal justice double major from Mt. Sterling, has been involved with SAA since Spring 2016, becoming president in November 2017. She had previously served on the executive board, where she got a taste for student leadership. After considering the advice of her fellow members, she decided to run for president.
The mission of SAA is “fostering student leadership and professional development by serving past, present and future Colonels.” Tyra credits the organization in part with shaping her as a leader. She reflected that SAA has boosted her confidence and helped hone her organizational, teamwork, delegation and public speaking skills.
For all her talent and confidence, those who work with Tyra describe her as a quiet person. Contrary to popular beliefs about leadership, her introverted tendencies are an asset to her.
“Andrea listens more than she speaks, which makes what she says very thoughtful and trustworthy,” said Sarah Baker, adviser for SAA. Tyra tends to agree. “Being a leader does not mean that you’re always the loudest person in the room,” she said. “Instead, it means that you have the ability to communicate effectively and concisely with others.”
Baker praised Tyra, saying she has “a strong ability to lead others.” That could be because she serves SAA with an others-focused mentality. Baker remembers that selflessness being a central part of Tyra’s campaign speech: “She wanted to focus on the inner workings of our organization to ensure that our members feel connected and that they are gaining value from our organization.”
Her fellow members show their appreciation through respect. “When she arrives at her final decision, the organization fully supports her,” Baker said. “We know that she has SAA’s best interests in mind and that she has thought about all the consequences.”
The prestigious organization boasts 68 members. Prospective members must maintain at least a 2.75 GPA, have completed at least 12 hours at EKU, and undergo a rigorous recruitment process. Recruitment lasts a week and a half, and includes an application, group interviews, team-building exercises and an individual interview. SAA hosts events such as EKU Homecoming, football and basketball games, the Alumni Awards banquet, alumni class reunions, and campus tours for incoming students. In 2017, the chapter earned the Above and Beyond Award through Hospice Care Plus.
In addition to her election as SAA president, Tyra calls her full scholarship to EKU and 3.91 GPA her proudest achievements.
What advice does such an accomplished young woman have for those who aspire to be leaders in their own circles? “Conquer your fears and just do it,” she said. “Put yourself out there, and don’t be afraid to fulfill that leadership position in your classes, organizations or jobs. The benefits you reap from putting yourself in these positions are unimaginable.”
-- by Madison Harris, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management