Imahni Bruno-Reeves, from Boston, MA is a Senior majoring in Communications. Along with her academic course load and involvement in campus leadership programs, Imahni is a former member of the Resident Assistant Staff and Committee Chair for Third World Alliance
How do you think you’ve changed as a leader throughout your time at WSU, and what aspects of your experience most influenced this change?
What I feel I have changed the most as a leader is the ability to communicate better with different people. When I first started at WSU I did not know people from so many walks of life. Once I became part of TWA and later Residents Life, I was learning more about people from all over. I made friends and had residents that had different cultures and lifestyles than my own.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned when it comes to leadership?
The biggest lesson I have learned as a leader is to follow what you believe in. I feel as though if you know what you value as a person it will help you distinguish yourself as a leader. I believe in and value so many things but ignored them when I came to college because I felt I may have no friends or not be able to make friends. I realized that even if you have different values, your friends and family, they will still love and appreciate you. When you stand on what you believe in, it will make your different skills as a leader stand out. Not only will they stand out but the leadership skills you have that someone else may not have you can teach and make a difference in the world.
We really want to highlight the intersection of identity, culture, and leadership development. Can you share how your identity has shaped your leadership style throughout the years?
I am currently in my last semester at WSU and I am a first generation student. I have been in predominantly white schooling my entire life. I was lucky to be part of the METCO program where inner city students are bussed out to suburban areas for better schooling. As it was a challenge to get up at 5:00am to get to school which was an hour and thirty minutes away, I fought through and did it. While attending school this district, I got many leadership opportunities. In middle school I was chosen to be part of Project 351. In high school I was part of the peer helpers program for 2 years. Now I do not want to brag, but to be 1 of 5 black students selected in my entire grade and 1 of 65 out of a district of two elementary schools, one middle and one high school; this was amazing. Having all of these leadership experiences throughout 7 years has helped me realize what it looks like to be a leader. Once getting to college and attending WSU made me realize what I really do care about and value as a leader. I already knew I had leadership qualities, but my peers, mentor, and professors at WSU really helped me understand who I am as a leader and what I am capable of in this world.
What would you say has been your best experience here at WSU?
I would say my best experience at WSU was the leadership summit. This was the first time I had the opportunity to actually do something with the Office of Student Involvement other paperwork for my club. I got to attend a mini getaway trip and looked at my top strengths. Since I already knew my strengths from being an RA, this was the time to work more on them in my overall life. I looked at how my strengths make me stronger but also in ways that they weaken me. I also got to meet students from other walks of life on our campus from residents to commuters. I learned about their strengths and how our strengths may relate. I also made lots of new friends. It was a very heartfelt weekend and made me appreciate leadership opportunities way more. I wish I knew about the summit sooner so I could’ve done this every year. I recommend students try this opportunity at least once in their WSU career. Leadership is great for everyone!
What was your most meaningful experience while at WSU?
I would say my most meaningful experience at WSU is becoming an RA. This experience is a great opportunity that I wish I took part of earlier on at WSU. This experience taught me so much about being a leader and a great friend. I felt like people always made being an RA seem not fun. During my sophomore year I felt there was more to the experience of being on campus and I thought maybe applying to be an RA would help me see that, and it sure did. I made 40 new friends on campus that instantly had my back through anything. To have an amazing group of friends on campus and then make 40 more was honestly a blessing. I got to hear other students stories but also their struggles. We bonded and connected and it was like a little family. I got to make programs and make a difference on campus. I also had amazing residents that treated me so well! The best part was res life was there for me when I was mentally going through challenges. Many of the RAs worked so hard to help me and when I began to slip or fall behind in something, someone was always there to help me pick it back up. I am so appreciative and grateful for that. Even though I did not get a full year of being an RA because of Covid, what I got I very much appreciated.
What has been your biggest accomplishment since beginning your journey at WSU?
I feel my biggest accomplishment since beginning at WSU is starting as a member in TWA to being the VP my junior year. I was so nervous to join groups when I first got to WSU and felt that my voice should not be heard. I joined TWA when I was a freshman and I was really shy. Once I started attending more meetings and volunteering, I realized I wanted to have more of a say in what the group does on campus. During elections I ran to be part of the Public Relations team and I won! This was exciting for me because it related to my major and I was working on many skills that I needed if I were to do this in real life. By the end of my sophomore year I had to decide if I wanted to stay in the same position, leave or move up. My great friend convinced me to be the VP and I did it. It was a lot for myself to take on but I felt I needed to challenge myself and make it work. In the end it was great. Being in TWA has taught me so much from paper work to working on my public speaking. I also got to help put together events and programs that our campus really needed to see. I wish I could have done more but TWA has also helped me find my voice as a black woman in this world and i’ll never forget that.
What advice would you give to students who are just beginning to explore the type of leader, or the type of person, they hope to become?
The first thing I would say is take risks! Any kind of risk that is going to give you a different experience is better than not having that experience at all. If you are interested in doing anything leadership related please do it. Do not let anyone on campus stop you from trying something out, you can gain so many great opportunities. Also remember that everyone is different too. Never forget what you value! Also give your opinion and speak up in any and every way possible. Change needs to be made and it can happen with any little ideas you have.
What are your current plans for the next few years? I am graduating from WSU in May 2021. After that I would love to find a job that relates to my major or minor. I am currently looking into Public Relations but I would love to be in a tv studio or starting my own podcast. I am also a history minor so if I could eventually go back to school and get my Masters and then hopefully teach history. I am open to anything, I just want to be happy in my job and make change throughout the world.