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

Rocky and Me: Mahnum Shahzad '15 Senior Profile

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The Rockefeller Center encourages its outgoing seniors to reflect on their experiences at Dartmouth as part of a series called Rocky and Me.

I had very grandiose notions about leadership and growth when I came to college. College applications had me convinced that I was destined to change the world. Of course I had no clue what any of it meant or how I would eventually get there.

Mahnum Shahzad '15. Photo by Philip Son '16.

Perhaps that is why I decided to participate in the Management Leadership Development Program (MLDP). The experience taught me about the constant process of developing leadership skills and how leadership is a vision as much as the skills that one needs to become an effective leader. It redefined leadership for me as something less hierarchical and situation-driven to something that one could practice personally.

I later decided to work as the Student Program Assistant for MLDP and found myself in the company of many people who I now count as my mentors. I was encouraged to voice my opinion and learn from my peers and mentors in a space marked by congeniality and a commitment to my growth. Perhaps my fondest memories of Dartmouth involve my conversations with Sadhana and the other Rockefeller Center staff. They have really inspired me not only by the richness of the experiences that they have had but for the humanity and selflessness that they exemplify.

The mentorship that I found at the Rockefeller Center motivated me to be a facilitator for the Dartmouth Leadership Attitudes and Behaviors program. I had the chance to engage with a group of wonderful first-year students and embark on a journey of reflection on who we are and what our Dartmouth experience is. The conversations that I had taught me so much about myself and convinced me that Dartmouth would continue to grow and improve as these students moved through their Dartmouth experiences.

Another highlight of my Rockefeller Center experience was my participation in the Create Your Path program. This program gave me the tools to reflect on my motivations and passions in a very constructive way. Like any Economics major, I was considering many different options for my career. Given that each had its pros and cons, I felt extremely undecided about all of them. The program gave me that "A-ha" moment that we all wait for. As I gazed at my answers for all the exercises, I couldn’t remember why I had been undecided in the first place. Economic research was really the only passion I’d ever had and after leaving Dartmouth, that is what I am doing with my life.

As I leave Dartmouth, I find myself incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that the Rockefeller Center provided for me and all the mentors that I found there. My journey with the Center has been one of fulfilling introspection and finding acceptance and inspiration for who I want to be. 

This piece was written by Mahnum Shahzad '15. Mahnum is an Economics and Mathematics double major. In addition to her involvement at the Rockefeller Center, Mahnum is an Undergraduate Advisor and works as a research assistant in the Department of Economics. After graduation, she is excited to be working at the National Bureau of Economic Research with Professor Heidi Williams.

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