The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Elijah Soko '16

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This series introduces the 2015-2016 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

Recently I have being thinking a lot about leadership and love. What does it mean to lead with love? After my father passed away when I was in the seventh grade, my mother became the sole head of the household. My mother is very gentle, fun-loving, soft-spoken, open, humorous. My nickname for her is baby-face. This woman fostered my growth academically, physically and spiritually. All this without explicitly challenging me to work harder, raucously cheering me on the soccer field, or forcing her faith on me. It is possible to lead with love. It is the most efficient way to affect a person’s whole being. From the very beginning my mother made it clear that one of the main reasons she had the strength to carry on, without dad, was simply to provide and care for my sister and me. This drove me to do the very best I could, simply because I knew I was loved.

I find myself in a unique position. I have Pastor Norman Koop, son of the late Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, as a mentor while also helping lead FCA. The FCA leadership team guides athletes and non-athletes alike consider faith in God regarding life generally and their respective athletic pursuits. This experience has helped me step away from myself and meet different people wherever they are with their walk with God. I wish I had known how important a role being on the leadership team is. People come to FCA seeking something greater than themselves and something greater than this world and life. I hope to bring the very thing I am learning as a leader at FCA to RLF.

I am interested in RLF for two main reasons. First, I will be one of the captains of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) for the 2016 academic year and I think RLF would compliment the position very well. I am excited to take on the challenge of helping to lead an organization largely composed of athletes despite retiring from soccer myself. Second, I have noticed that I have a great deal of respect for the people I know in the current RLF team. It is a credible characteristic for college students to profoundly reflect on how to build habits that guide towards their aspirations. I know RLF can help develop my classmates and me in this sense.

Elijah Soko, class of 2016, was born and raised in Zimbabwe. In his junior year at Saint George’s College (high school), Elijah transferred to Brooks School in North Andover, MA. At Brooks, he was the head Chapel prefect and won the Philips Brooks prize for “offering constant love, exemplary service and good humor to the community and by setting a high standard for others.” At Dartmouth, he is a double major in Government and Geography. He is a former member of the varsity soccer team, leaving the game to focus on faith and academics. Elijah is currently the co-captain of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and also works in the Class of 1953 Commons dish room. He has worked at an orphanage in Harare, Zimbabwe as well as interning at a personal injury law firm in Boston. After graduation, Elijah plans on gaining relevant work experience as well as attending graduate school, all toward the ultimate goal of improving U.S.-Zimbabwe relations.

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