Sunday, September 20, 2009

What it means to have a living classroom

"You have a responsibility as leaders ... you have to have integrity. I wasn't willing to compromise myself to keep a job - I hope that's not you."
~ Anucha Browne Sanders

These are words that I am not likely to ever forget. Leadership has been defined on so many occasions and by so many people that it almost seems like a fluid concept. But as Anucha Browne Sanders spoke these words to the students of the DeVos class this past Friday, I realized that this was not some mere definition but that these words came from a woman whose story is the very definition of what it means to be a leader; to overcome odds; and to be the kind of moral beacon that the sports industry so desperately needs.

Anucha Browe is currently the Senior Athletic Director of Marketing for the University of Buffalo but is most famous for the sexual harassment lawsuit that she filed against Isaiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden back in 2006 after she was fired from the New York Knicks. She spoke to us about her unlikely career path, the importance of building a network, how to take advantage of opportunities, and the importance of ethics in the workplace.

As she spoke I understood how rare someone like Anucha Browne Sanders really is. The path that she has taken, the barriers that she overcame to become one of the senior most members of an NBA franchise being an African-American woman, and the moral fiber that she showed in standing up for herself and women in the workplace everywhere with the lawsuit that she brought against Isaiah Thomas and Madison Square Garden, are really nothing short of inspiring.

As I listened to her speak, I learned the importance of professionalism, corporate responsibility, integrity, and how far mutual respect can take you. And as I listened to her I realized how fortunate I am to be in a program like DeVos that presents a living classroom experience that allows us to have a speaker come in almost every Friday to teach us valuable life and professional lessons and then allow us to personally interact with those speakers. This week it was an opportunity to listen to and meet Anucha Browne Sanders and hear her story and next week it will be Otis Smith – the general manager of the Orlando Magic.

This is really what defines this program – not just an opportunity to grow academically, but the opportunity to grow together that will not only allow us to experience career success but to be better people, to be the moral face of whatever workplace we enter, and to always, always, always stand up for what is right. Nowhere else would I learn these lessons, nowhere else would I have this experience, and because of that there is nowhere else that I would rather be than a student in the DeVos Program here at UCF.

Have a great week!


Matt V said...

Nicely written. As someone who hopes to one day experience that living classroom, you have brought a clear explanation of why it is imporatant, and how different it is from every other program.

DeVos Team said...

Thanks Matt! I'm so excited that you are aspiring to be a part of the DeVos family and that you are reading this blog. I know that the last two years as I evaluated my own decision, this blog served as an invaluable resource to myself and a number of my classmates. Hope to see you in Orlando really soon!