by Megan Rilkoff '09, alumni panelist at the Graboys Leadership Symposium held at Tabor on November 18, 2014.
Looking back on my years at Tabor, I see a special community that encourages its students to develop their existing passions and explore new ones. As a freshman, it seemed obvious to continue my love of soccer and student government. Soon realizing the benefits of such a supportive community, however, I began to take risks and to try new activities such as lacrosse, volunteering at a local school, and one very unimpressive year of ceramics. As chance would have it, lacrosse and education outreach would continue to be huge aspects of my college experience at the University of Southern California.
As a lacrosse captain at Tabor, and later at USC, I learned key qualities in leading my peers of patience, persistence, and understanding. From tutoring at Sippican School, and later working at a service learning non-profit at USC, I learned the importance of civic engagement and community development. The combination of opportunity and support that is so unique at Tabor greatly influenced my confidence in taking on new challenges in college and beyond.
It was also at Tabor that I developed my first real sense of global awareness through a French high school exchange program, and from the amazing global diversity of the student community. After graduating, I continued to seek out international opportunities and experiences abroad. This led me to study in Paris for a semester, and more recently to apply for an English Teaching Fulbright grant in Laos, armed with a deep-rooted curiosity and passion to explore a new part of the world.
In Laos, all of the leadership skills I had developed at and since Tabor came together. To lead effectively in the classroom and with my Lao co-teachers, I found empathy, confidence, and flexibility to be my greatest tools. All these qualities I gained as Vice President of our senior class, collaborating with fellow classmates, mediating disagreements and making compromises, as well as taking ideas for projects and fundraisers from conception to completion.
The further away my graduation day in 2009 becomes, the more I realize the immense impact and influence Tabor has had on my passions and leadership skills.