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Be a Leader. Be Orange

Posted March 19th, 2013 by James Thomas

Be a Leader. Be Orange.

By James Thomas

To Be Orange is to be a leader of yourself so that you can help lead your community and be an active citizen. Being Orange is being a part of the Oregon State University (OSU) community; the OSU community includes students, faculty and staff, and alumni. To be orange requires the OSU students to understand the value of community and subsequently the value of leadership. Throughout this post I will explore the link of the values of community and leadership and how these values represent being orange. I will also define what my degree will mean to me and I hypothesize that the degree from OSU should represent an individual with a global awareness, the ability to think critically, perform research, and be a leader.  Leadership development opportunities for students is immense at OSU and I will propose that we continue to illuminate opportunities for leadership development to the students.

The values that represent being orange include community, compassion, leadership, health, and sustainability. I will focus on leadership and community and will guide my thoughts on community based on the following definition: community includes a group of individuals who seek to achieve a common goal. In this case, one goal is to be a leader. In order to be an active part of the community and practice citizenship, one must have compassion for the other members of the community and must also be a leader of their self and promote active self-care. To be a leader of yourself, practice self care, and to have compassion for your community is leadership; being an active leader to promote citizenship across your community is being orange. OSU seeks to be a sustainable community with major focus on human health and wellness and sustainable ecosystems. As part of this community at OSU, we are all being Orange and must strive to lead our community to sustainable growth and development.

The value of leadership can be broken up into two parts: leadership of one’s self (knowledge of self identity, and core values) , and leading others (either through a direct leadership position such a director, or through emergent leadership). In order to be a leader, one must have a solid understanding of their personal goals and virtues, and should be able to identify their own place in the world. Once an individual has reflected on their self-identity, they are ready to help their community through leadership and through a compassion for others in their community. I have spent a lot of time as an undergraduate student on exploring my own values, learning how I work with others, and learning about the needs of other college students; these components make up my leadership development and I hope that every student at OSU has the same opportunity.

Leadership can be taught in the classroom, however as like most lessons, applied leadership experience is necessary to “learn” leadership. Leadership is a very important value as it requires people to explore their self-identity and virtues, and then impact their own community through social change and compassion. When I leave Oregon State University I anticipate that I will have broad perspective of knowledge of the world through my bach-core classes, and that I will be an ethical leader well in tune with my personal values and aware of the needs of the community I live in. To be orange is to be prepared to lead your community and in turn, an active citizen. Emergent leadership does not require you hold a position of power but suggests that you can inspire positive change for those around you by your actions; this is the type of leadership I believe being orange represents and than an education at OSU will teach.

When I leave Oregon State University I will still “Be Orange” and I hope to bring my ethical awareness to the world in which I live. Through my leadership development here at OSU I have learned how to work with a variety of individuals that come from diverse backgrounds and I have obtained a sense of compassion for the community I am a part of. Being orange is to be a leader of yourself and a leader in your community to promote active citizenship and engagement. During my education at OSU I have had the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research, and explore student leadership and involvement in both applied and academic fashions. I have been a part of student clubs (Student Dietetic Association – SDA, Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences –  OSUMANRRS, The College of Business Management Club), and I have helped organized events such as the Leadership Fair and Art of Leadership Conference while working at the Center for Leadership Development. I am working on a Minor in Leadership here at OSU which allows me to study leadership theories and apply what I have learned in class and from textbooks to my work with student clubs, student involvement, and leadership development.

I have learned that leadership requires a check in with your personal values from time to time, and identification of your purpose in life. Once you are in tune with your own self, it is then time to inspire others and work with your community to help one another achieve your goals; this concept is compassion, and it follows the social change model of leadership. This value of leadership leads people to be an active member of their community and practice active citizenship by seeking to take care of their own self and be a positive contribution to society and their community; this value of leadership is what it takes to be orange.

An education at OSU should train people to be excellent citizens in their community by working with the students to ensure the students see how they fit in the world, see their strengths, can identify their values, and so the students then feel empowered to help others to the same. I would encourage every student at OSU to get involved on campus in some way, and to explore what it means for them to “be a leader, to be orange”.

Additional Information:

To identify how other students at OSU define “Being Orange” I reached out to the Facebook community; all of the responses indicated or implied the value of community and were from OSU students.  Here is the Facebook post:

(the names and photos have been blurred, but the post is also public so feel free to view online)

Works Cited:


-Our Class Text Book: Doing Ethics: Moral Reasoning and Contemporary Issues, by Lewis Vaughn








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