Getting involved on campus and making a difference has many benefits. For senior Tierra Hooker, that involvement has been the gateway for many opportunities throughout her college career. Hooker has been able to balance her academics as well as maintain the many different leadership positions she currently holds on campus.
Hooker is a biology major with a concentration in occupational therapy and a minor in psychology. She aspires to become an occupational therapist. Throughout her time at Kean, Hooker has been a part of numerous organizations and has managed to stay on top of her game. She has been a president of the Poetry Club, member of the Student Occupational Therapy Association, one of the founders for the Kean University chapter of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), and a previous student manager for the Involvement Center within the Center for Leadership and Service (CLS).
Through these organizations, Hooker has served in various positions and gone through many different experiences that developed her leadership skills. She became the vice president of NCNW, serving as the events and programming coordinator, and has been a part of a variety of committees through CLS, such as the library committee and the student leadership council. She has also worked with New Student Orientation as an orientation leader.
Since her freshman year, Hooker has been commuting to Kean. However, She wanted to make the college experience her own, and leave behind a life-changing legacy. Initially, She was overwhelmed by the concept of public speaking and was reluctant to talk in front of a large group of people. Her experience and leadership roles have changed that, and opened up the doors to a diverse field of opportunities outside of Kean.
"I didn't realize how much my involvement experience shaped where I am today. When you come to college, you're not expecting any of the experiences you are getting. You expect to meet friends, you expect to get a degree, but you don't expect everything in between. I think my experience allowed me to get so many opportunities that will go beyond my college career...I wouldn't be the leader that I am today without that experience," said Hooker.
Hooker went on to explain that being a leader is not just about the title, or even just running an organization. She explained that leadership is about being able to motivate and uplift the people around oneself. The ideal leader is someone who knows when to take lead, as well as when to allow others to take lead.
"Aspiring leaders should learn who they are, get engaged in things that allow [them] to find out what [their] personality is and what [their] interests are, because when you learn how to lead with your strengths, how to master all of your strengths, look at all your flaws and constructively receive criticism, you're building yourself as a person. Once you build yourself, you can start to tune in and start to allow yourself to impact others," said Hooker.
After graduating in May 2020, Hooker will be heading to Towson University to pursue her master's degree in occupational therapy, and hopes to one day write a book that will impact as well as influence future leaders like herself.