Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Caroline Berens '18

This series introduces the 2017-2018 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.

I am particularly interested in how leaders' personalities translate to their leadership styles, especially introversion, because I consider myself a more quiet and introverted leader. When we think of leaders, we imagine outgoing, charismatic and authoritative extroverts with superb people skills who command attention; conversely, an "introverted leader" sounds almost oxymoronic.

I think there are societal misconceptions about quieter leaders, such as an alleged lack of charisma, or a tendency for passivity in confrontation or conflict, that I have found untrue in my experience. In fact, I think introverted leaders tend to demonstrate qualities, such as humility and calmness, that might be remiss with a more extroverted leader. That isn't to say one is better or worse than the other, but I think the dichotomy raises interesting questions about the best way to lead, and the most essential qualities for a leader.  Ultimately, I believe people's leadership styles are just extensions of their personalities, so I'm interested in exploring that relationship, and learning how to maximize my personal strengths to optimize my leadership skills. 

For me, being in RLF is a sort of culminating experience for my past three years at Dartmouth, and a bridge between college and the professional real world. Before Dartmouth, I had a very typical conception of leaders - as bold, loud, commanding people - and consequently thought I was much too soft-spoken and reserved for such a title. But when I got to college, I saw that my notion had been mistaken; leaders are a varied medley of personalities, identities and styles.

Despite this, I recognized a quality that all leaders shared: they made people feel valued. Feeling valued by the mentors and leaders I had the privilege of meeting at Dartmouth compelled me to find leadership qualities within myself, which was a major shift in my personal growth and my Dartmouth experience collectively. It therefore feels very fitting that I'm participating in this fellowship in my final year here. More specifically, RLF is an opportunity to continue to build upon my nascent leadership skills, to learn more about myself and also to meet other seniors with similar interests with whom I have not yet crossed paths. I look forward to ending RLF as a more effective leader, but perhaps more importantly, as a better person. 

Caroline Berens grew up in Boston, MA and graduated from Boston Latin School. At Dartmouth, Caroline is a Government major with a Psychology and English double minor, and a member of the Gamma Sigma Alpha honor society. Outside of the classroom, Caroline is a News Managing Editor for The Dartmouth newspaper, after editing the newspaper’s weekly magazine, The Mirror, during her sophomore year. She is also involved in her sorority Alpha Xi Delta, serving on its executive committee as President during her sophomore summer and currently as its Inter-sorority Council Delegate. Caroline is also a facilitator for Movement Against Violence and was a first-year trip leader for Trips 2017. During her terms away from Hanover, Caroline worked as an assistant teacher at a summer school for fourth-grade students from underperforming schools, studied English literature on the English foreign study program in London and interned in the Civil Rights Division at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. After graduation, Caroline hopes to pursue a career in communications or social policy.

Edited by Alexandrea Keith '20, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications