Admissions Blog: How women become leaders at Sweet Briar

Graduation 2017Imagine a place where every student leadership position is filled by a woman. A place where women are encouraged to work hard — in the classroom, in the library and laboratory, on the playing field, in the board room, and every place in between. A place where an 18-year-old girl can, within four years, be transformed into an independent woman. She becomes a woman ready to take on the world with grace, respect, tenacity and grit. She can go off to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, engineer, CEO, professor or anything else. How, do you ask, is she able to be transformed into a dynamic leader? Three words: Sweet Briar College.

I am Emily Dodson, a senior business major and environmental studies minor. I have been the student admissions ambassador chairwoman for two and a half years. I oversee anywhere between 15 to 22 student admissions ambassadors. I create their work schedule and training programs, set up meetings, make sure they understand their responsibilities for open houses and assist in the office. I have found this opportunity to lead my peers unmatched by any internship or any other job. I have learned more about leadership through working with the ambassadors than could ever be taught in a classroom.

Emily Dodson (right) welcomes current first-year Ajhani Oxendine during Accepted Applicants Weekend earlier this year.
Emily Dodson (right) welcomes Ajhani Oxendine ’21 during Accepted Applicants Weekend earlier this year.

The most rewarding part of leadership for me is the ability to hear other people’s ideas, have the power to enact change [on their behalf] and in turn give them credit for their work. Through my leadership experiences, I’ve learned that listening and being open-minded are key to innovation in any workplace. Creating channels for people to share their ideas is incredibly important because it gives them the opportunity to bring value to their workplace. One day, I will be a manager or executive in a business, and I know that the experience that started for me here will carry on through the rest of my career.

Leadership at Sweet Briar does not just stem from on-campus work; it is encouraged in the classroom, as well. Students are held accountable for all assigned readings because of our small class sizes. Sweet Briar is not a place where one can hide in the background, hoping not to be noticed. Professors will challenge you to expand on your ideas. They will challenge you to be confident in your opinions and statements because if you do not believe in yourself, no one else will.

Sweet Briar also creates leaders by expecting students to show integrity and trustworthiness. Our Honor Code ensures students can leave their books and computers in the library for hours and know no one will touch them. Self-scheduled exams give students the flexibility to set their own pace during exam week — but they also force us to manage our time responsibly. I know it will be a fantastic feeling when I walk across that stage in May, knowing the people surrounding me are honest women of consequence going into the world to be leaders.


Emily DodsonEmily Dodson ’18 is the students admissions ambassador chairwoman. A business major with a minor in environmental studies from Richmond, Va., Emily also is the Academic Affairs Committee chairwoman and a member of the Student Government Association.