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

Senior Profile: Michelle Shankar '12

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"I feel honored and blessed to have crossed paths with the Rockefeller Center. The RLF Program embodies my freshman-year vision of Dartmouth: engaging with students who have very different perspectives from me in order to improve ourselves and the world around us."
When I came to Dartmouth, I knew that I would grow and learn in ways I couldn’t imagine yet. I would learn with and from an incredible and diverse group of students around me, who would motivate and challenge me to broaden the lens through which I view the world, both inside and out of the classroom. I would explore an assortment of courses in various departments and cultivate new ways of thinking about and engaging with the world around me. Although I was pre-med, I was determined to use these four years to develop myself not into the best medical school candidate I could be, but rather into the best human being I could be.I spent my first three years at Dartmouth exploring many different opportunities, departments, hobbies, and passions. I joined an a cappella group, acted in theater productions, worked in the Woodworking shop and Jewelry studio, and found opportunities to volunteer in the Upper Valley. I spent my leave terms pursuing service opportunities in healthcare and education at home and abroad. In addition to taking pre-medical requirements, I created a major that enabled me to explore Global Health through the lens of culture, economics, and politics.I never thought of myself as a “Govy” or “Econ” kind of person. I imagined the Rockefeller Center to be filled with fancy business suits, highfalutin political language, and economic terms that I would never understand. I thought myself too worldly and common for Rocky, I felt intimidated by its reputation as one of the finest public policy institutions in the country, and I especially could not envision myself wearing a blazer. I never would have considered setting foot in the Rockefeller Center until I heard about the Rockefeller Leadership Fellows Program. When I learned about the program, I saw that it was much more than my myopic conception of Rocky. As a Fellow, I was introduced to a group of twenty-one members of my class who have traveled many different paths during our time at Dartmouth. Every single Fellow is a campus leader in a different capacity: Greek life, performing arts, community service, politics, athletics, the list goes on. However, we all share a common goal to develop ourselves as leaders and as human beings together.This program was precious time set aside each week to reflect upon my Dartmouth experience, my leadership, and the experiences and reflections of others. I have become more aware of my leadership style as well as that of others around me. I have developed confidence as a speaker after grounding myself in an understanding of my strengths and unique qualities. I have become comfortable with my weaknesses and have learned humility in reaching out to others for support. I recognize that leadership has many manifestations and is truly a lifestyle, one that I must practice in all aspects of my life. I feel honored and blessed to have crossed paths with the Rockefeller Center. The RLF Program embodies my freshman-year vision of Dartmouth: engaging with students who have very different perspectives from me in order to improve ourselves and the world around us. While I cannot know with certainty what I want to do with my life, I have a clear idea of how I want to do it; my time as a Fellow has helped me to create an idea of the leader and human being that I strive to be.

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