Leader to be trustworthy, responsible, uplifting, enthusiastic
On June 27, 2013, 16-year-old Samuel Williams was killed in a car accident while driving with his grandfather from Deep Creek Lake. An avid Eagle Scout, volunteer and member of the track and field team, Williams was viewed as a leader by his peers, teachers and family members. Every year since his death, his family and school honor his memory through the annual “Be T.R.U.E. Leadership Award,” part of the Samuel Williams Leadership Foundation’s quest to raise funds in order to give sophomores like him the opportunity to participate in leadership programs.
While considering a winner, judges base their decision on how a student represents the qualities that Williams had of being trustworthy, responsible, uplifting and enthusiastic, hence “T.R.U.E.” His sister, junior Amanda Williams, reflects on how he was especially proficient in brightening her day on a regular basis. “Not only was he uplifting, but Sam was also funny and caring,” Williams said.
In 2015, Shelby Ting was one of three students to receive an award. Now a first-year student at Dickinson College, she remains motivated by her experience with the foundation to learn more about leading a community. “I try to be a leader mainly by taking the initiative and doing whatever I can to help,” Ting said. “Sometimes that means stepping down from a leadership role to be a follower, but I believe that good leaders can be both.”
The following year, senior Jason Peng was pleasantly surprised to receive the award after applying on the advice of his friends on the track and field team. He went on to the Rotary Leadership Conference, one of the five programs in which a recipient can choose to partake. “I chose the local program RYLA to learn more skills and ended up becoming the president of the Rotary Club at school,” Peng said.
For those students who are passionate about humanitarian efforts, the programs offered to the selected applicants act as a step toward being able to help out around a community and ready themselves for life after high school. “I think sophomores would like the experience because it helps with college preparation,” Williams said. “The programs let them get to know older kids and they’re able to form ideas for the future.”
Although he is happy to have had the experience that comes with winning the award, Peng is disappointed that more of his classmates did not apply. He values the time he has had training in leadership roles with the help of the Williams family. “I want to tell the younger students that you have more leadership potential than you think, that it’s not an inborn skill, it’s acquired,” Peng said.
Applications for the 2018 “Be T.R.U.E. Leadership Award” closed on Apr. 25 and winners will be announced in May.