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Gretchen Gilbert

Mrs. Kusinitz

Writing 104

5 November 2017

A Silent Leader

“I got a brookie!” she shrieks to no one in particular, beaming with excitement.

Alivia Ekwegh’s chorus teacher has just gifted her a hybrid of a cookie and brownie. “You

just made my day!” she proclaims, fixating on Mrs. Ducharme while eagerly waving her

loosely clenched fists through the air. She is nothing but sincere. I sit there, watching her

repeatedly bounce from end to end of the room. It is difficult to keep track of her

whereabouts. She’s engaging in conversations with her peers, while dressed in modest

clothes colored in neutrals like black, gray, and white, yet has a speckled green pair of

dinosaur ears showcased atop her head, creating a stark contrast against her ebony hair that

is pulled back in a bun. I quickly glance at my paper to continue scribbling down notes and

within that brief moment, she’s with her teacher and friend, posing for a picture

showcasing their Halloween costumes. Surrounding the teacher’s desk, a group of chorus

students are loudly disputing their favorite songs they’ve sung so far, their disregard for

volume proves irritating. Yet Alivia casually interjects on the conversation and offers her

opinion; “You liked that one? I really didn’t enjoy it.” She earnestly ensures that her voice

is heard, while remaining composed and nonchalant, unlike her counterparts. This is the
Alivia Ekwegh that many are familiar with. This is the Alivia Ekwegh that is known and

loved, appearing to be carefree, and constantly revolving around fun. Yet there is another

side to Alivia that many may not be aware of. When she states that, “in order to make a

difference, you have to do your part”, she wholeheartedly believes and practices those

words. The “part” that she has decided to play is one that could help change the course of

the future.

Upon getting to know her, I realized that Alivia’s perspective on the world is unlike

that of her generation. She feels a sense of obligation to find a solution to the issues that

affect her and those she loves. While at times this may seem like the majority of the

problems in the world, she ensures me it’s not. This liability she feels stems from her

character, which she accurately reflects within her description of herself: “I guess, I would

say I’m a loyal person, I’d like to think that I’m caring, and that I consider people’s

feelings…” Although, Alivia may not demonstrate these qualities in conventional ways.

Her self-described loyalty and consideration, is exhibited through her effortless leadership

which in turn conduces to advocacy for others. This combined with a pinch of her

self-proclaimed, “really really stubborn and hot-headed[ness]” creates the perfect recipe for

a silent leader.

In order to better understand this effortless leadership inspiring within Alivia, I question

exactly what goes on in her mind when she hears of the hatred and inequity arising in our nation.

She calmly replies, “I think it goes in steps.” Of course she is only human, and her initial

reaction is anger, and dismay. Then however, she goes into a period of sympathy and attempts to
put herself in their shoes; something that at the youthful age of 16, takes great maturity. But then,

instead of dwelling on the matter she thinks to herself, “What can I do?”

The recent 2016 Presidential Election is something that caught the attention of Alivia.

Although prefacing that she “doesn’t want to offend anyone,” she stated that “Donald Trump and

the whole election process” has especially struck a negative chord with her. “We kind of dumbed

ourselves down in order to let him into office” she explained, “It was almost as if it was okay for

things that I deemed ignorant to be okay.”

So what can we do about the adversities our nation faces? Alivia believes that her

generation is the one that is going to overcome these prevalent problems. “We as the younger

generation, I think we are the ones that can make a bigger impact and difference…” she

professes. She adds that, although “we have had it better than in the past, we have a lot of work

to do.” In order to achieve these lofty goals, she plainly suggests that “we all need to work

together instead of being focused on all the negative, you have to see the positive and then we

have to expand it.”

This optimistic mindset she has is translated into every aspect of her life, no matter how

big or small. I think back to watching her perform on the creaky wooden stage of our high school

in the annual Lip Sync performance. She danced and “sang” along to the chosen theme of hit

80’s songs. She nonetheless was an excellent, yet modest performer. She lit the stage up in her

neon pink shirt and sweat bands, but also with her character. She was seemingly having the time

of her life with her peers on stage. However, she later revealed to me that she was the one to take

charge of her grade’s performance, and hardly any of the participants showed up for rehearsal.
Instead of fixating on the lack of participation, she used the “what can I do?” attitude, and pulled

the performance together, delivering an entertaining show. Yet when the results of third place

came in, she naturally and undoubtedly equated it to the greatness of the competitors

performances, and not the faults in their own.

This is precisely what makes Alivia Ekwegh a silent leader.

At the end of our interview, I present her with the monumental question, “What approach

would you take to solving the hatred in the world?” Clearly haven given this some thought

before, she quickly responds, “I think it takes more than rallying and and just being angry, I think

it’s collective things… She paused for a moment before continuing, “...people need to have a

dialogue with the people they don't necessarily agree with and need to be able to have a

conversation to understand where each other is at. Because without a dialogue, there is no

connection.” As the words gushed out of her mouth, I could tell this was something that she felt

strongly about. She continued, “I can’t relate to you if I'm not talking to you, I can’t see how

your mind works if I’m not talking to you.” She proposed that “in order to actually meet

someone in the middle, we need to have discussions and then we need to execute we need to

actually take an initiative to do what we need to do.”

Alivia is evidently wise beyond her years. She is innately able to recognize where there

are problems, and knows that the best way to solving them, is through simple communication.

With her “can-do” attitude, she puts these words into action, and becomes practically
unstoppable. I have the utmost confidence that Alivia Ekwegh will continue to quietly lead her

generation into better times.

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