Delanie Blubaugh, a junior at Frostburg State University, is a student leader active in addressing social justice and voter rights issues on our campus. Delanie has worked to represent and advocate for the student body through her involvement in the Student Government Association, the University Voter Engagement Committee, and the University of Maryland Civic Engagement Student Leadership Committee. Delanie actively worked this past year to engage her fellow students in the voter registration process and continues to advocate for increased access to voting for her fellow students. Delanie recently testified before the Maryland House of Delegates Ways and Means Committee in favor of the Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act (SMVEA) that would require local Boards of Elections to consult with residential institutions, like universities and assisted living facilities, on polling place locations, as well as give students excused absences to vote on Election Day.
To be a leader is to serve with empathy and compassion. It is listening to understand someone’s experience that may differ from your own. It is about compromise, expressing interest in the lives of those you lead, and a genuine desire to leave a space better than it was when you arrived. I have learned in my various leadership roles that leading with compassion is not always easy, but it is necessary. In serving on the Student Government Association, as well as on the student newspaper and other roles on campus, I have come to recognize the importance of serving and leading with good intention. Social change is accomplished through tough conversations, addressing inequities, and challenging norms. While it isn’t always easy to lead with compassion, it is rewarding to see the value others gain when you do so. Every day, I strive to be a little kinder and to listen a little longer. I endeavor to create and maintain an environment where all truly feel accepted, heard, and recognized no matter their background or identity; an environment where challenges seem smaller because of the camaraderie and shared understanding that my peers and I have built and shaped together.