I am Shugo Tanaka, a junior in Computer Engineering set to graduate in May 2014. I was born in California, and raised in Hanover Park, Illinois. I'm a mixed dichotomy: half artist, half engineer; half Japanese, half Caucasian; half designer, half developer. All Shugo.
The first time I was explicitly introduced to leadership was back in my second year of high school. One day after gym class, my teacher pulled me aside and asked if I wanted to join the Leader P.E. program the following year. I would spend my junior year learning the rules of each sport we played, and then senior year I would help out a group of underclassmen. I distinctly recall thinking that I am definitely not a leader. I thought I was a follower and didn't have those innate qualities of a leader.
Even so, I agreed to do Leader P.E. since it still sounded like a neat opportunity. I started developing my leadership styles, aspects that I wouldn't fully understand until I delved into the world of what it means to be a leader.
I attended my first Illinois Leadership program before even coming to college. The summer before I started freshman year, I went to an Intersect program. After that point, I was grafted to the idea that anybody could be a leader. I saw the potential within myself to be a leader, but definitely still saw my shortcomings before I could accept that as a reality.
My roommate freshman year, a then-sophomore I had known from high school running, was involved in the Leadership Certificate program and pushed me to give it a try. After getting involved, I felt invigorated by the atmosphere of the leadership and the peoples' positivity and incessant desire for progress. Two years after embarking on this journey, I've grown and developed skills that will benefit me in my academic, professional, social, and personal life.
I plan to graduate from the College of Engineering in the next year. From there, I aspire to get a job in animation, user-interface design, or human-computer interaction. After paying off my student loans, I want to someday start my own animation and web development studio. I want to create animation, comics, apps, and websites; and help others follow their passions to create.
The biggest change between pre-Leadership-Certificate Shugo and post-Leadership-Certificate Shugo is now I am open and invigorated by leadership opportunities. Whereas before I saw myself as purely a follower, now I believe I am a leader both at times when I have a formal position and even when I don't. I am more open and confident to express my ideas, and encourage others to give theirs. I learned to be more outreaching, more inclusive, and more authentic. Those traits have been actualized through my personal growth and development, and augmented through everything I learned from the certificate program.