Leading By Example

Megan Henry

Photograph by Beltrami Studios

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” — Marie Curie, physicist and first woman to win the Nobel Prize

Megan Henry easily recognizes the importance of understanding others. As a SLAM (Student Led Advisory Meetings) leader, Ms. Henry is one of over 50 seniors at South Burlington High School who are responsible for working with freshmen twice a week to engage them in team-building activities that promote understanding and respect.

“It’s a huge commitment,” explained Ms. Henry of her SLAM experience, “but I love it. It’s very rewarding. In order to be a leader, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone, and Peer Leadership (the course you take junior year in order to become a SLAM leader) teaches good skills that are important.”

Ms. Henry actually holds numerous leadership positions, not only as a SLAM leader but also as a Student Council member, as a member of SBHS’s girls’ ice hockey team, and as a PACT Advisory Board member and Dialogue Night leader. She continues to be aware of the courage required to step out of her comfort zone and the importance of doing so: “I think as a leader it’s important to be a good role model. But it’s even more than that. You have to be humble, and you have to be willing to see that overcoming challenges builds character and leadership qualities.”

“It’s really important to be true to yourself and figure out who you are,” she continued. “I think it took a lot for me to learn that. I feel like I learned it the hard way.”

Ms. Henry credits her parents as being role models for her, and she celebrates her grandmother as providing a model of resilience from which she draws inspiration: “I’ve participated in the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk in South Burlington for the past four years in honor of my grandma—she had breast cancer, and she’s a survivor. She’s important to me. She’s been through a lot, but you would never know it by meeting her because she’s really strong and interesting and fun to be around. She has a unique personality.”

This year as part of a Project Citizen requirement for her PIWA (Public Issues World Affairs) class, Ms. Henry worked with a team of students to raise money for breast cancer research through t-shirt sales and sponsorships for the Making Strides walk. They teamed up with SBHS freshman Carly Jones’ team: “This year for me it was about my grandmother and Mrs. Jones (Carly’s mom, a breast cancer survivor). It was a good way to integrate the grades because so many people participated. I was definitely humbled by that and by how much everybody was willing to donate. At the walk, the survivors stood on the stage and told how long they had been cancer-free. It was very powerful.”

Ms. Henry hopes to use her experience as a leader and as a person who gives back to her community in the next stages of her life: “For a while I’ve had my heart set on studying psychology in college. I also think about going to med school to become a psychiatrist because that work is inspiring and doing something community-related in a third-world country. There’s so much out there.”

“I’ve definitely grown a lot in high school,” reflected Ms. Henry. “I’d go as far as saying I’m a completely different person than I was in middle school. I have lots of growing to do,” she smiled, “but I definitely feel like I’m getting there.”

SOURCE: Susie Merrick, Contributor

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