Born into a wealthy family from New York, Eleanor was never supposed to live a life where she would have to be concerned with the suffering of others. Her parents wanted her to marry into a wealthy family of high status and carry on as any other woman of status in her era would. Eleanor, however, had a different plan for how she would spend her life.
Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, is widely regarded as one of the most influential advocates for civil rights of her time. With a leadership position next to President FDR, the First Lady caught the public’s attention with her caring words and thoughtful remarks regarding civil injustices. She raised awareness for social issues previously not in the forefront of politics, successfully addressed challenges in unprecedented ways, and championed the movement towards equality for all.
Eleanor believed in a concept of Learning through Experience. Although she felt that she lacked qualifications for some of the positions she held before entering the White House, she accepted the role and learned at every opportunity. As discussed in Leadership for a Better World, “one does not become an expert before getting involved, one becomes an expert through involvement and learning from experience” (26). To create positive social change, it is important to have the courage to make yourself vulnerable and to create learning opportunities for yourself. Try new things, embrace the feeling of being uncomfortable, and find your passion! Solve complex problems by learning as you go, through working with the community, and truly listening to those around you. As naturalist Terry Tempest Williams writes in an article about her time in the Arctic, “experience opens us.” Experience is what allows us to fight our fears and our resistance to the unknown so that we may solve problems and create a better world.
Andrew Goldberg worked as a Landis Center for Community Outreach Leadership Fellow (Summer 2012), and currently holds a position on Landis Staff as a Program Coordinator for America Reads*Counts at Salvation Army Learning Zone. Andrew is a sophomore studying Civil and Environmental Engineering. In his daily life, Andrew is a proponent of life-long learning and he makes the most of every experience and opportunity.