An Introvert’s Path to Leadership

“Go where your heart calls you. You’ll find passion and opportunity there.”

Anne Williamson ’20

Hometown: Pella, Iowa
Major: Accounting
Scholarships: Heritage, Presidential
Campus Activities: Student Senate; Copresident, Economics and Management Club; Leadership Team, Mission Trips, Campus Ministries; Economics and Management Department job sites.
Career Goal: Become a CPA and cost accountant.

Stereotypically, accountants are detail-oriented introverts who like things just so; leaders are extroverts with a tolerance for ambiguity. Anne Williamson ’20 has become adept at being both—and credits Central with helping her stretch herself beyond her initial self-concept. That, in turn, showed her she had the power to impact the world and change lives while practicing the discipline she loves.

It took a conscious effort, she says, and Central provided both the opportunities and the support to grow.

“My first two years as a student here I spent a lot of time in my room. By my junior year, I made it a goal to be fully involved. I decided to join the student senate and I learned how it interacted with the college’s board of trustees to make decisions that affect the whole college community. That gave me a new outlook,” she says. “I saw that I could impact the world. I dove into community service. Now I participate as a mentor in some of the summer camps I went to as a high school student. I took a world music class with Senior Lecturer of Music Stan Dahl where I got to play the pans. It was fun! I’m now taking a philosophy class and I’ll be taking a sociology class next and seeing if there are other interests I want to explore.”

Her senior year, she’ll be student body president—somewhat to her surprise. “I wasn’t planning on running,” she says. “But after the great relationships I’ve had with a number of my professors I thought perhaps the Senate could do some things to create spaces outside of the classroom where students and professors could interact even more—a soccer day, inviting profs to late-night Central. I talked to some other students; they thought it was a good idea, and here I am.”

One of her favorite professors is Associate Professor of Economics George Nwaogu. “He really gets involved with students and wants you to succeed—he’ll tell you what you have to do to be successful in his class and his passion really inspired me. I also really enjoyed Professor of Mathematics Russell Goodman’s stats class. He’s really energetic, excited to be around students, wants to know about your life outside of school and makes you feel that he’s invested in your education,” Williamson says.

Beyond that, she says, “Central offered me a community, a sense of home that I didn’t feel on other campuses I visited as a prospective student. You can feel everyone caring when you step on campus.

That feeling of caring is part of what inspired her to stretch herself into leadership. “There are people who are born leaders,” Williamson reflects. “I’m naturally introverted and need my alone time, so taking on the student body president was outside my usual comfort zone. But I’ve enjoyed it, and I think by putting myself out there and developing my people skills I’ll be more marketable as a professional.”

Following graduation, Williamson completed an accounting internship at Principal Financial Group, then headed to Iowa State University Ivy College of Business’s Masters of Accounting program.

For those looking at colleges, “Go where your heart calls you,” she says. “If you find a community you want to be in, you’ll also find passion and opportunity there.”


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