21-year-old Ange Sonia Rugwiro is the Guild President of Akilah Institute. The third year student of Information Systems believes in leading a goal-oriented path and keeping an open mind towards new experiences. She had a chat with Women Today’s Donah Mbabazi.
What are some of the core aspects that set you apart as a leader?
My simple personality sets me apart. I am simply a people’s person, way before I even thought of campaigning for presidency; I would easily get my colleagues to accomplish certain tasks in order to align what was not going on well on campus without waiting for the administration to do everything.
I remember one day I mobilised some of my classmates to clean and organise classes after lessons, we did it without supervision. That showed me that there was mutual respect and trust. When it came to campaigning they already knew my ability as a leader and with that trust I won the elections. Leadership is action and example not words or a title.
Have you always wanted to be a leader?
Well, when I was little, I had many dreams but honestly, being a leader was not one of them. But when I joined Akilah, I realised that I had always been a leader unknowingly. That is because I would take initiatives and get things done even when I was not told to do so. People would encourage me to stand for positions and I would take the chance and like I always say and I quote Mark Sanborn, a keynote Leadership speaker, “Leadership is not an obligation but an opportunity.” Whenever I got the opportunity to make a change in the community, I always grabbed it, I still do. I am not the kind of person who sits and waits for other people to do something.
What responsibilities are assigned to being a Guild President?
Being a guild president, you become the student’s voice. You ensure the students’ welfare and also make sure that rules and regulations are followed by students. Students’ welfare includes their social and academic life, the leader is always there to give a helping hand in solving the issues of students around campus. The Guild President also takes part in decision making regarding students behaviour or any other disciplinary cases when they arise.
How does it feel to be entrusted with such responsibilities?
Being a guild president, be it intended or not, a person changes but in a positive way. You are forced to behave, dress and think like a leader not just for self-gain but for the good of everyone around you. So this change brings about the sense of pride, focus and decision making skills which help the person to lead a meaningful and purposeful life.
Would you say it’s a tough title to live up to? Why?
It is very challenging but it helps to bring out the best in you, so being a leader is a good opportunity that I embrace every day to grow mentally and intellectually. Each day is a new day, a new chance given to me to learn more.
What’s that one thing you noticed about leadership that you didn’t know?
People are very different, they think and behave differently. This requires a leader to be flexible and recognise the differences and be able to bring all those together and make people work towards one goal of development. It is not an easy task, most especially when you are dealing with people who are older than you are.
What are the traits that set you apart as an individual?
I always try to see the positive side of situations and fix what I think is mediocre. Apart from that, I am a techkobwa...with a passion for technology. I wish to become a great programmer, not only because it is mostly what I love about technology (coding), but also because I love finding out the root of everything.
As a leader, what are the challenges you have managed to notice that young university girls meet?
Young women still fear to stand against gentlemen when it comes to leadership positions. You find that in many universities women are just assistant class representatives and secretaries, not because they lost votes but because they didn’t have the courage to stand for those high positions. They tend to have the mentality that they are fighting a losing battle, which isn’t right. Girls need to explore their capabilities because I know with a little zeal they can accomplish a lot.
Do you intend on taking your leadership skills ahead?
Yes of course, I got a chance to exercise my leadership skills and I hope to continue with the journey. Even though it is not on top of my list of goals, I would love to stand for a position in Parliament because I also realised that I have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives. I can be anyone I want to because I am the one with the power to lead the life I want through the choices I make.
What advice would you give a girl who wants to run for guild presidency?
“Be yourself”. No one wishes to be led by a person who has different faces. If it’s a matter of truth be truthful to yourself and others. This will help you know what to promise them and be able to keep the promise. As a leader, your every action has a consequence, make sure it is what you intend.