Building a Leader

Photo by Duane Zehr

By Matt Hawkins
January 9, 2015

Jason Blumenthal ’15 embraced Bradley’s leadership development opportunities as a freshman and filled his waking hours with as many leadership and service experiences as his schedule allowed. As a result, the political science major from Johnsburg, Illinois, is prepared to follow the footsteps of several Bradley alumni into public service careers.

Blumenthal discovered a passion for mobilizing people through the Fellows Program, which opened doors to other leadership positions in student government, College Republicans and the athletic department’s student section. In addition, he served in leadership for the Rotary Youth Leadership Award and ran twice for his hometown school board.

“I like seeing someone take an idea and run with it,” he said. “It's not about me as a leader. It’s about getting others to succeed with ideas.”

Blumenthal also engaged the community through numerous hours of community service. Time at Peoria-area organizations such as Midwest Food Bank, Goodwill, Easter Seals and First United Methodist Church’s Loaves and Fish soup kitchen developed a strong commitment to service.

Because of relationships developed through these activities, Blumenthal developed a Swiss Army knife of organizational connections and abilities.

“I really believe in being a jack-of-all-trades,” he said. “I can be in several clubs and we can work together to have the best events. It’s about the success we can have together.”

By maintaining a hectic schedule of classes and activities, Blumenthal built relationships with University faculty, staff and administration. In addition, he had conversation with Bradley alumni and politicians Ray LaHood ’71 HON ‘11, Bob Michel ’48 HON ’81 and Aaron Schock ‘02. Those relationships helped him develop his own others-centered leadership style.

“I’m lucky I’ve been able to talk to a wide variety of people daily to see how they lead their departments and motivate others to accomplish things in a positive manner,” Blumenthal said. “Looking at their leadership styles improved mine.”

Those observations helped prepare Blumenthal to embrace the world after graduation. Bradley’s holistic learning environment, full of leadership development and volunteer service opportunities beyond the classroom, will enable him to start his public service journey on firm ground.

“We’re educated for the world, not just the workforce,” he said. “Because of the community here, education isn’t just about the job.”