A Capital Semester Presidential Leadership Journey: Jefferson’s Monticello

 

Written by Matt Phister – Coordinator, Capital Semester | Leadership & the American Presidency – Fall | Legal Studies Institute

The third and final stop on the Capital Semester students’ “presidential tour” was a visit to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Monticello served as Jefferson’s home during his five decades of public service including author of the Declaration of Independence, third US President, Secretary of State, and founder of the University of Virginia. The students had a chance to tour the estate and surrounding grounds to learn about Jefferson’s life, inventions and legacy.

What did you learn about leadership from visiting Monticello?Monticello 2

“I learned that no matter how great a leader someone is, they’re still human. They still make mistakes. Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in building this country but he wasn’t always making the best decisions in relation to how we see things today. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great leader; just that he’s a person that didn’t make perfect choices his entire life. Even the best leaders aren’t flawless, and I think that’s important to remember.” – Haley Britzky, Texas Tech University, Internship: The Hill

“I learned that leadership cannot stand on its own without communication and innovation. Communication is essential to leadership because it is the driving factor that helps the team transition from the creation of an idea to the execution and deliverance of the targeted final product. Innovation is something that I discovered walking through Jefferson’s home at Monticello, and it taught me that there are a number of ways to approach a problem, and finding new, more efficient ways can contribute to the effectiveness of a leader.” – Chris Julius, University of Colorado – Denver, Internship: The Roosevelt Group

“I learned that being a leader doesn’t mean that you know everything; a good leader continues to grow and learn.” – Marianne March, Georgia State College, Internship: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

“Monticello made me realize that there are all types of leadership styles. After visiting Lincoln’s cottage and Thomas Jefferson’s estate, their different choices in their ways of living and where they desired to reflect says a lot about how they led the country.” – Gabrielle Quintana, University of Florida, Internship: US Office of Government Ethics

What did you learn about Thomas Jefferson during the visit?

“I learned that he was constantly improving Monticello. We all hear how smart he was, how he read so many books, but he turned an estate into his project – the more he learned and grew, the more the plantation grew. He modeled his home after architecture in other countries that he was studying at the time; he was always improving and innovating.” – Haley Britzky, Texas Tech University, Internship: The Hill

“Something I learned about Thomas Jefferson is that Jefferson was clever and intelligent. From being able to teach himself multiple languages while growing up, to the number of quirky ideas fitting his household, Jefferson’s Monticello helped me realize the importance of using the intellect to aspire creative inventions.” – Chris Julius, University of Colorado – Denver, Internship: The Roosevelt Group

“One thing that I learned about Thomas Jefferson during the visit was that he extremely invested in architecture and was knowledgeable in a number of languages.” – Gabrielle Quintana, University of Florida, Internship: US Office of Government Ethics

Why do you think it’s important to study historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson? 

“Studying Thomas Jefferson gives us a better sense of how we got to where we are today. The founding fathers didn’t just show up and have it all figured out, they struggled and fought for what they wanted. It shows us how brave they were and how strong in their convictions they were. It demonstrates the kind of bravery and strength we should strive for as Americans.” –  Haley Britzky, Texas Tech University, Internship: The Hill

“Studying historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson not only allows students to visualize the time periods these individuals lived in, but if taken seriously, can inspire students to emulate the leadership qualities each student deems is possible to apply in their academic, personal and professional roles.” – Chris Julius, University of Colorado – Denver, Internship: The Roosevelt Group

“It’s important to study historical figures like Thomas Jefferson because even though he lived in a different era and accomplished many things, he was still a person. The realities of his life don’t take away from his accomplishments; they show future leaders that people, despite their faults, can still contribute to society in an impactful way.” – Marianne March, Georgia State College, Internship: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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