The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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What makes an American president?

Different careers, life paths reward us differently

Five presidents were on the SMU campus. Five of the most influential people to have walked the earth. Decisions that they made are etched into history. They changed the way the majority of people across the globe lived. Through war or through peace. Through economics or though diplomacy.

Their presence on campus was felt much before the actual event or even the preparations for the event. The campus was made a fortress with security and the sheer power of the office of the president was evident in all the excitement.

Any press about the event would allude the same kind of adjectives to these illustrious men. And while the whole process was on air, I thought: what really makes certain people presidents?

After all, aren’t they also common people like us? Consider even the current President Obama. Strictly from a middle class family background, and rose to be one of the most powerful men in the world. Is it just ambition and motivation? Do such highly successful political leaders possess a determination that the rest of us might lack?

Leadership is definitely an attribute. But more than that, is it simply the profession they chose in life? I feel that the answer is simply the attitude.

Every profession, I believe, demands just the same amount of hard work. I believe that to become successful in life by selling metal scrap or via writing computer code or by running a financial business, it all requires the same kind of commitment. And the same amount of hard work: albeit in different forms.
Yes, some people are more adept in applying this energy. Some just do not take the efforts to develop an attitude to steer off diversions and focus on your goal.

At present, certain careers directly project us into the limelight: the biggest example being politics. After all, that is the reason why it is called the public life. If you are good at that, there are some automatic responsibilities, and hence power, that come with it. But, all other things being equal, consider two equally brilliant men, one of whom is a genetics researcher and the other a politician. Their chosen careers, which might have been the result of their attitude and aptitude, decide how much of a public life they would live.

It is the same reason why a writer or a journalist is famous. He is no movie star or celebrity. But is famous due to the inherent nature of his work. His popularity is his livelihood. Just like toiling hours and hours in a lab secluded from the rest of the world is the livelihood of a biology scientist.

Leadership definitely is not for everyone. But so isn’t research, or composing music. And the society we are in, and the system we build around ourselves rewards and characterizes success in each of these fields differently.

So, my case is that presidents or for that matter even movie stars are simply common men and women, working hard in professions that thrust them onto the public life -that thrust into their hands responsibilities and challenges that make them powerful. The hard working researcher at a science lab or the music student toiling away in a practice room is equally working hard. But their choice of career and priorities decided for them if they would need hundreds of military men combing every venue they would visit or if the decisions they make would ripple through the globe.

Sunil is a graduate student in the Lyle School of Engineering.

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