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Ridge Hester, Growing Leader

Lyon College junior Ridge Hester has a long list of accomplishments. Among other duties, he serves as a resource for campus residents as a member of the College’s Residence Life Staff, has bolstered Campus Ministry as the organization’s vice president, assists Black Students Association as its chaplain, and supports the College as a lead student ambassador.

Hester is also Student Government Association (SGA) President at Lyon. He says that it’s his most meaningful leadership role so far. “It really has shaped my perspective on leadership. Whenever you are in a huge role like this, you have to realize that there will be struggles. There will be times where you are stressed and anxious, but keeping your eyes on the prize and staying focused on the mission that you have is so crucial to being successful.”

For Hester, that mission is clear – he must represent students and provide student organizations with necessary resources such as funding for events and trips to research conferences. As SGA President, he serves as a liaison between students and administration, and he joins numerous college committees and searches to provide a student perspective on administrative matters. The concerns of his peers must always be on the forefront of his mind.

Serving this population through leadership has helped Ridge refine his idea of what it means to be a leader. Before he stepped into the role, he had a more idealistic picture of responsibility, but his time as president has shown him that stress and disagreements are valuable parts of learning and being a leader.

“Failure is key to success,” Hester says. “You can’t be successful and not go through things. You have to endure the same hardships as everyone else to become a well-rounded leader. It makes you more relatable, and that makes your leadership more effective.”

In fact, Hester believes that relating to people is one of the most important parts of leadership. He sometimes visits nursing homes to speak with the elderly and often stops to chat with other students on campus. He hopes that these connections can create change in a positive, personal way.

Working to support that goal, Hester proposed ten annual SGA awards to promote leadership on campus and to recognize other student leaders on campus for their work. The first recipients of these awards will be honored at this semester’s Honors Convocation, and Hester hopes that the recognition will encourage them to continue their service and to find new ways of improving their community.

He said, “There’s so much more that we can do to make sure students are aware of the importance of being open. I want to create a campus climate that is welcoming and open to diverse ideas.”

Planning to be a healthcare administrator, Hester will take these passions into the future. He hopes to attend St. Louis University for one of its dual degree programs that allows him to pursue an M.H.A. and an M.B.A. at the same time. He says, “My goal is to be a CEO of a hospital by age 40.”