Hello, Hawkeyes! Continuing with our series of interviews with previous President's Leadership Class members, we have an interview with Joshua Bolen!
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Year in school: Second year
What organizations are you involved with on campus?
I am the executive director of the Clothing Closet at Iowa, the Director of Operations for the University of Iowa Student Government, the alumni relations chair for Phi Kappa Psi, and a member of Dance Marathon!
How did you first hear about these organizations? What drew you to them?
As a freshman, my RA did wonders to help me get involved on campus. I expressed to her early on that I wanted to be more involved with leadership at the University of Iowa, and she helped to connect me with both the Clothing Closet and UISG, both of which she was involved in. It was incredibly valuable to have this resource available to me. Dance Marathon, though, was just something I had always wanted to be a part of.
As a member of the President’s Leadership Class of 2019, could you please describe the impact the course had on you and how it challenged you to think about what it means to be a leader?
The President’s Leadership Class gave me a better understanding of how I had been acting as a leader, while also giving me constructive feedback on how to improve as one going forward. We were also taught different leadership models, which was a new concept to me. I knew that each individual had their own unique way of approaching a situation, but I was able to learn a few distinct and universal methods that were most effective. Additionally, being able to hear directly from President Harreld and other staff members was a beneficial tool in accessing what real-world problems us student leaders might have to face in the future.
How have you applied what you learned in the PLC to the organizations you are involved with today?
I’ve noticed that I try to listen a lot more than I used to; the class has taught me how important being an active listener is in the leadership process. I go into new situations with an open ear and the expectation that things might not go my way. There will be parts of conversations where things will get unexpected, but I look to embrace that part and move past it in order to enhance my skills as a leader.
What should students know before applying to the PLC? What advice would you have to students about what they should expect?
It’s such a great experience. You’ll be thrown into a diverse group of enthusiastic leaders who can help you build connections to best support the University of Iowa. Be open and willing to new ways of learning. Additionally, the nontraditional class setting makes class feel like a back-and-forth conversation rather than a lecture. Finally, you may meet people who you may feel a little intimidated by because of their position at the university. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and don’t think that anyone will judge you for what you have to say! These are some really cool people, and I felt honored to learn from them.
How has being a member of the President’s Leadership Class or other organizations on campus shaped your goals for the future?
I was able to participate in the public sector of education first-hand through this class., and I want to keep this educational side of things on my radar going forward. Doing so challenges you to stay in the learning atmosphere of college.
What has your most proud or memorable moment as a student leader at the University of Iowa?
One of the coolest things I have experienced was the first executive team meeting of the Clothing Closet team from the 2019 school year. The team chemistry was a little off at that meeting, but it set the bedrock to creating an amazing, close-knit team. Our relationship quickly developed into one of mutual trust and respect, where I learned to form close bonds and check in with individuals outside of meetings in order to establish those bonds through mutual care for one another. I learned so much from that team, including relationship strategies I hadn’t thought about.