Meet the Captains

Leadership at William Clarke is an opportunity to represent the College and use its values to actively promote student agency.  

 In 2022, we saw College Captains Jazz and Liv introduce perhaps the greatest tool of student advocacy – the ‘We Are’ student media site (although, I might be a little biased). Upon the graduation of the Class of 2022, a new era of leadership and student agency begins. An era in which the We Are Team will play an integral part in forming symbiosis between formal leadership and student-led media. And to start this era, what better way is there to get to know the new faces of WCC?  

 I was fortunate enough to sit down with the new College Captains, Zoe and Ryan, to discuss their approach as they embark on their role as formal leaders in the College. Read on to find out what inspires them, what their goals are, and even what their favourite karaoke song is!  

 They say the key to a successful day is starting it off with a nutritious meal, what did you eat for breakfast?  

 Ryan: As always, I try to start my day off right with a big meal. I had some pork steaks with scrambled eggs on sour dough – an absolute classic in my books!  

 Zoe: I am honestly not very good at starting my day off with a quality breakfast, but this morning I had vegemite toast (a classic) and a glass of tropical juice.   

 Who do you look to for mentorship and why?  

 Ryan: The main two people I look to for mentorship in my life are my Youth Pastor, Ben Razey, and Mr Noble, as they are two men that provide me with a strong Godly example to follow. For inspiration though, I look to the examples set by people such as Jocko Willink, David Goggins and Kobe Bryant for the otherworldly discipline and passion they brought into their own lives, which I seek to emulate. The final and most important role model for me though is Jesus himself, as he truly exemplified what it meant to be a servant-hearted and Godly leader for me.  

 Zoe: There are honestly so many people in my life who I look up to for mentorship and inspiration. I would have to begin with my family and the long line of strong independent women I come from that have all sought to better the world through service of their time and knowledge; to be a part of that family line is a blessing I want to continue giving. My youth leaders, particularly Katie Mooney and Ben Razey have played a major role in my walk as a Christian and are key mentors for me as I continue to grow in my faith and how I live that out in the way they encourage, challenge, and inspire me. And most importantly Jesus is the ultimate example and mentor I strive to reflect in my own life; not only the way he led but the way he related to people and saw everyone as a precious child of God.   

 What do you hope to have achieved by the end of your captaincy?  

 We hope to foster a culture of Christ-centred mateship that extends throughout the College community, by developing leaders who are courageous, grateful, and selfless in all that they do. Practically we would love to see people stepping out of their comfort zones, talking to new people and creating new friendships with those they may have previously not talked to, and recognising the blessing it is to be where we are with the people, we’re with.   

 In your opinion, what qualities do today’s leaders lack?  

 Ryan: The biggest thing for me is the lack of service we see from leaders in today’s age. Rarely do you see leaders picking up rubbish in a park or helping the elderly move furniture. To me, the biggest void in leadership today is just the ability for leaders to get back to the grassroots of what it means to be a leader, which is serving others above themselves.  

 Zoe: Leader’s today, in my opinion, lack humility and genuine care for the people they lead – and ultimately, I think this comes down to how far society has strayed from Christlikeness as a collective. Too often are leaders put on pedestals, acting above those they lead, concerned only for their own maintenance of power and prestige that they overlook the well-being of those they lead. I think the humility to recognise one’s own mistakes and to serve those you lead, as well as genuine love and compassion for the triumphs and trials of a leader’s team, are so essential for effective leadership.   

 What moment in your life helped shape the leader you want to become?  

 Ryan: I think the biggest shaping of my view on leadership came when I read the book Legacy, which speaks to the success of the All Blacks as an organisation and as a Rugby Team. The first scenario the book presents is after the All Blacks have just won a massive game, and they get back to the locker rooms. After the debrief, they act in a way that is counter cultural to what we think about leaders. They swept up after themselves, which just blew my mind. The fact that the most winningest team in the world has the humility to tidy up after themselves really put into perspectives that leaderships starts with what is done behind the scenes, with the leaders serving when no one is watching, rather than just prancing around in the spotlight. It’s about putting your hands in the mud and making change, rather than expecting things to just happen. That is what I think leadership is all about.   

 Zoe: For me the most influential moment in my walk as a person and a leader was when I became a Christian. I can honestly say that my character would be miles from where it is today if it weren’t for the work of the Holy Spirit refining my heart and guiding my every step. Looking back on the person I was before becoming a Christian, which came at quite a dark and chaotic time in my life, is just incredible to see how God transformed the girl who was quite selfish, and needed to be in control, into someone that has the humbling blessing to see everyone as a child of God and a deep desire to serve and love them because of that. As I’ve touched on already in this article, leadership to me is all about that humility and genuine care, and it honestly wouldn’t be possible in the inexpressible way it is without God.   

 What is the best piece of leadership advice you have been given?  

 Ryan: Although not directly about leadership, but life in general, the best piece of advice I have been given was this: “God does not call you to be a successful servant, but a good and faithful one.” This profoundly affected me, as I am a very competitive person, who seeks to always be the best. But if your aim is to always be successful and the best, then you are going to end up tearing yourself apart. God calls us to try our best, not to be the best, so all I try and now is a better leader than I was yesterday. I am far less afraid of making mistakes because I know that if I am being a good and faithful servant and am learning both from what I have done wrong and right, then I am doing what God has called me to do!  

 Zoe: Amen to everything Ryan just said! It also made a song lyric come to mind that says: 

 “There’s no doubt about it, I’m on my way home. I’m not yet where I’m going but I’m a long way from where I was,” which I think is such a powerful thing to reflect on. Like Ryan the piece of advice or really a quote I saw that I think is just profound is this: “If you really wanna be like Jesus: be the one who stays, when everyone else walks away. Be the one who forgives, even when it’s undeserved. Be the one to show grace, when everyone else is casting stones. Be the one to show love, even when they betray you. Because that’s who Jesus was.”  

 What is your go-to karaoke song?  

 Ryan: Somehow, out of all the questions, this is the hardest to answer. I’m not as much a karaoke person as I am a singing all the time person, but I would have to say (seeing as it’s the only song that comes to mind) the Duck Song is an absolute classic when it comes to Karaoke. No, wait I have a better one! Sweet Caroline is probably the one song I think most people can agree is an absolute masterclass in sing-along songs, so I’m gonna go with that.  

 Zoe: Well, I don’t know how I’m going to give a better answer than the Duck Song AND Sweet Caroline, but I think I’m going to have to say anything by Kelly Clarkson or Whitney Houston. However, if I am in a group, it’s obviously going to be ABBA!  

 Ryan: Just wow…