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

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Shaitalya S. Vellanki '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.

My interest in the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows stemmed actually from a Dartmouth Bystander Initiative (DBI) training session that I attended the summer of my sophomore year at the college. I served as my sorority’s summer President, and was required to attend a session that focused on various topics related to risk management and appropriate behavior in various social settings that could be applied to any social environment. However, the first half of this all-day event was focused on developing an understanding of leadership, specific skills, and being exposed to different leadership styles either through hypothetical situations or simply by interacting with the other attendees at the session. I didn’t think that I could passively be taught skills and characteristics to develop as a potential leader, because I only understood or had been exposed to leadership through an active learning process. This experience was so meaningful to me because it forced me to step out of my comfort zone of just acting on skills that I’d improved upon over the years, and rather step back, reflect, and write.

While at Dartmouth, I’ve was a Great Issues Scholar and part of WISP, two programs that I now mentor for through the Dickey Center and the Research Office respectively. I have served as Co-President of the Nathan Smith Society (NSS) and still am an Executive Board Member of NSS along with being an Executive Board Member of GlobeMed. I am currently a Bio12 tutor and study group leader as well as a Cancer Research Scholar at the DHMC. I served as Alpha Xi Delta’s sophomore summer President as well, and I still hold other positions in my sorority. Being pre-med and aspiring to go to medical school after Dartmouth I’ve shadowed various doctors at the DHMC and I’m also a Cancer and Patients’ Services volunteer through Tucker. While serving as Co-President of NSS, I branched out to work with a Geisel medical student in organizing a panel that discussed how religion and spirituality affects the practice of medicine – an event and a topic the first of its kind. I was very nervous about the turnout and the logistics of how coordinate organization of the event with someone who wasn’t an undergraduate like me.

I believe that RLF will be a program in which I can truly develop a better understanding of what my leadership strengths are and what are weaknesses that I can work on. The structured setting, which takes me through interactive activities and discussion sessions will be a great opportunity to be a part of during my last few terms. I want to continue to apply leadership skills in my extracurriculars on campus, while I simultaneously work on bettering them each week. It’s such a unique program offered to seniors to help them consolidate experiences from college and years past that have shaped their role as a leader while also providing them a space in which to congregate and build off each other’s capabilities. I also know that this team will set the momentum for leaders on this campus to continue to thrive once graduating, and I hope to help create this energy among my peers.

Shay Vellanki ’16 is from Lutcher, Louisiana and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy. She is a Neuroscience major at Dartmouth, and serves as an Executive Board Member of the Nathan Smith Society, GlobeMed, and Primary Care Progress. She is also a Cancer Research Scholar and volunteers with the Cancer and Patient Services through Tucker Foundation. Shay has been a Great Issue Scholar and mentor and a WISP intern and mentor. She is currently tutoring and leading a study group for Cellular Biology and working in a Cognition Research Lab. She has worked at research labs at UPenn and also volunteered to teach English to students in Tanzania, Africa. She’s volunteered at a specialty clinic at St. James Parish hospital in Louisiana, while also shadowing a pediatric oncologist during her off-term. She will be a working as a camp counselor at a Pediatric Cancer Childcare camp before senior year.

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