The University of St. Thomas

Center for Catholic Studies | Habiger Institute

A Day as a Leadership Intern

A Day as a Leadership Intern

A Day in the life of a Leadership Intern
by Clare Naughton

Clare Naughton

After rowing for three years with 5:30am water times, you would think waking up in the morning would be easy for me. I know myself too well though. I anticipate my morning delusions and set my alarm clock half an hour early, a good three snoozes. By the time I pull myself out of bed I can hear my suite mates rummaging around in the bathroom. I live in Grace Hall, a girl’s dormitory on South Campus where for the past year and a half I have been the RA (Resident Advisor) of second floor. I lead a floor of 27 girls and work to plan events, build community, and provide meaningful leadership. In a position like this your life becomes what they call a “fishbowl.” The 200+ residents of South Campus know who I am and thus what I do reflects the position I am in.

Now, it’s not hard to be politically correct, it’s not hard to resist going to parties where there is underage drinking, and it’s not hard to be a friendly face to freshman. What is hard is consistently witnessing to Christ and not only challenging yourself but others to do the same. Saying you believe in something more than “your feelings,” that you subscribe to morals that are not cultural norms, gets very sticky when you’re living in the same space as others who do not. There have been frustrating situations where both residents and co-workers have requested I do not bring up “spirituality” (as vague a word as that is) because it makes them uncomfortable or they could not relate. I have had to choose how to respect their wishes without compromising who Christ calls Christians to be. It’s many of the Catholic Studies classes, however, that have given me the vocabulary and knowledge to respond most effectively to these situations.

Grace Hall brother-sister floor event

This past semester when I eventually would drag myself out of bed on MWF’s, I would head to my 9:35 Catholic Studies “Woman and Man” class. There wasn’t an apathetic learner in our group. The discussions we would have while reading past and present powerhouse thinkers reflected our desire to more fully understand what humanity should be ordered to and what the ontological natures of Man and Woman are. Understanding concepts such as “feminism” under the light of Catholic teachings was extremely useful as I strived to create a community of women on my floor. These studies, along with lectures I have been able to attend through Catholic Interns, have driven home that leadership must be ordered by the Gospel.

So, when I finally arrive home at night usually after a day of class, library time, meetings, meals and walking all over campus I leave my door open. I offer an open ear to whomever needs it, laugh with the girls in the lounge, or join a study party in the hallway. Sometimes these evening conversations are trivial, sometimes they are deeply personal and sometimes they result in a decision by me to faithfully but sensitively speak as a Catholic. I find that these times of faithfulness require leadership on my part. This leadership does not become second nature or flashy over night, it starts off awkward and uncomfortable but eventually overtime you understand the rhythm of it.