High school students get leadership lesson from President Drake

ByChris Booker

Read the full article at osu.edu >

Students from KIPP Columbus High recently received a personal class in leadership and decision making from Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake.

Drake was a guest of the KIPP Columbus Leadership Breakfast series last week. KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a free, open-enrollment college preparatory public school with a mission to help students in underserved communities succeed in college and later in life.

Drake drew on his experience as an eye surgeon, long before he came to Ohio State, when describing his approach to solving problems.

“My approach to problems is to try to fix them,” Drake said. “When you are a doctor, people come to you and they are broken in some way. Your job is to figure out what you can about them and to help them get better. And I treat lots of things like that.”

For an hour, Drake talked to the high school students and answered their questions. The Leadership Breakfast series has hosted leaders like Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, Mayor Andrew Ginther and other community leaders.

“That aspect of how do you lead in a way that really can make the world better for yourself and for other people is essential to our core mission here,” said KIPP Columbus Executive Director Hanna Powell. “We’re not just developing kids who are bright scholars, but who are growing as scholars and as people who will make our world better.”

“When I talk about values, values are what you use when there are no markers out in front of you and you don’t know where you are going.”  -President Michael V. Drake
Drake discussed the importance of values-driven leadership. He said he is guided by his core values of respect, integrity, intellectual curiosity, commitment, empathy, appreciation for different perspectives and fun.

Drake shared a story with students about his son’s experience as a long distance runner. His son was leading a cross-country race but because the course was not clearly marked, he needed guidance to get back on track. His son won the race but he had to work hard to make up the lost time.

“It pointed out the importance of knowing where you are going – if there’s a course to follow and when you are by yourself and there are no other markers,” he said. “When I talk about values, values are what you use when there are no markers out in front of you and you don’t know where you are going.”

When he follows his core values when making decisions, Drake said, even complicated problems often work out for the best.

Powell said the opportunity for students to have their questions answered by a leader with as much expertise as Drake was an important learning experience.

“It’s essential that they grow as scholars and as people. Here we say it’s 49 percent academics, 51 percent character. What they just learned in an hour with him is a course of study,” Powell said. “To hear from someone who’s done it and who is willing to share [his experience] is just this really beautiful thing for our kids to see.”