SRI YOUTH LEADER FEATURING – Andrea Tharp

College entrance paper for Loyola Marymount University
“Qualities on being a leader”

The main idea that Fr. rPedro Arupe was trying to convey is that the Jesuit mission is to mold students into leaders who are compassionate and concerned about the wellbeing of all in our society. He wants leaders to be selfless and to work towards achieving a greater good. These are important qualities and one of the mentors in my life who lives by these qualities is Mr. Chad Brown. Chad is the founder of Soul River Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on leadership and conservation. In Soul River, inner-city youth and military Veterans are paired for adventures in camping and fly fishing, but there is so much more to the program, including community leadership opportunities for the students who participate. Chad is a decorated Navy Veteran who found a unique way to cope with his own PTSD and he has since shared his passion with other Veterans and youth like myself. He teaches us not only how to fly fish, but also he also instills leadership qualities, wilderness survival skills, indigenous ways of knowing and living, and conservationist knowledge including methods of how to combat climate change. He is one of the main people who inspired me to break out of my shy shell and step up as a leader in my community. He teaches and models how to be aware, responsive, compassionate, and someone who reaches out to others, especially those in need. Through Soul River, I have been given opportunities of a lifetime! I have travelled to remote places like the Alaskan Arctic Circle and those experiences are a big part of why I am the person I am today. I try my best to live by the principles and qualities Chad shares and I can also thank my mother for giving me these same qualities early on. People like Chad who have gone through countless struggles in life but still work to help others, while sharing their own experiences are people who motivate me.

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Chad has taught me how to stand up for others as well. When visiting the Gwich’in people in Alaska I learned of and witnessed first hand the troubles and struggles in their community. Through my work with Soul River I can help this community and others by accepting a responsibility and commitment to inform others about the ecological challenges in their communities and our ability to help bring change and sustainable living. I have been able to meet with Senator Ron Wyden’s representatives and speak to them directly about policies on climate change. A group of us teen leaders also spoke about the dangers of the seismic exploration and how the deep vibrations will scare away the native caribou population (a main food source for the Gwich’in people) leaving the animals with no safe breeding grounds. These experiences have helped me grow as a leader and also helped realize my calling to do work in electrical engineering. In addition to finding the field of engineering fascinating, I hope to one day find more accessible means of clean energy in order to help our planet as a whole and communities like the Gwich’in whose daily well-being and survival will depend on it.

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When I think about Fr. Arrupe’s vision of leadership, I think of how Chad and our work with Soul River has helped me feel more comfortable serving others. I currently mentor a local middle school student. I have another close friend who is the only black kid in the eighth grade and like me, he moved with his mom to Oregon before his 7th grade school year. Hanging out with him each week means I have to sacrifice my time hanging out with friends, or stay up a little later that night doing homework, but the sacrifices are worth it. It has been impactful to share my advice and

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help him navigate through the school year. I always wished that I had an older brother growing up and I’m glad I could be one for Mason. He started the year feeling alone and frustrated and was acting out in school. Since we’ve been meeting he has made tremendous changes in his behavior and now his teachers are even suggesting that Mason should become a mentor for some of the younger Black kids in the school. Without people like Chad, who have shown me the qualities of a great mentor and man, I may have never had the courage or compassion to enter Mason’s life in the way that I have. Sometimes justice work leads you to fight for entire communities, and sometimes it leads you to slow down to show one person just how important they are and how much they matter. For elementary school I attended a private Christian school where they taught us the importance of our character. For college, it is important to me to be at a smaller school where as a community, we are able to have a shared focus on personal leadership, compassion, and justice.

– Andrea

Andrea –

Apply today to Soul River Inc Today!

Applications – https://www.soulriverinc.org/applications
Deployments – https://www.soulriverinc.org/deployments-2019

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