Week 10 – Lessons in Leadership – Melissa Houston

Commissioner Houston discussed a number of items related to your personal path to leadership success to include changing your interpretation of events and challenges, what your why is and the unexpected path your life’s journey will take. Please choose any topic she discussed and provide us with your thoughts.


  • Tianna Arreguin

    One topic that stood out to me was her idea of changing your interpretation. Many times I find myself asking “How would I feel if I was in their situation?” And I try to see the situation from a different perspective. Changing your viewpoint and how you see things can create a more positive environment which not only has an impact on your personal mindset, but also impacts others around you. From personal experience, I have sped to places before and my driving was not always considerate to the others around me. I tend to have some road rage considering I have a four hour trip home, but after this talk, I learned to understand that I am not the only person who experiences things that cause our driving skills to be hindered. Commissioner Houston really opened my eyes to understanding others and to be less selfish because there are times where I am not the most important thing at the moment and I am glad I got to go through that lesson with her.

  • Commissioner Houston talked about many important topics, but there was one that spoke out to me to the most. She talked about how your life can take unexpected changes. My life has recently taken a huge unexpected change. When I came to UCO, I knew exactly what I wanted to major in and exactly where my life was headed. I have recently decided that I no longer want to stay in my major. My major is Musical Theater which is a major you have to audition for, so quitting would make it almost impossible to switch back to. I officially dropped out of the Musical Theater Program, but I have no idea where my life will take me next. It is scary to not know what I will be doing next semester, but I learned from Commissioner Houston’s story that life has a way of working itself out. She also talked about her faith in God and how he always had a plan for her. Her story gave me hope because I do not have to have my entire life figured out at 18. My life journey will be filled with ups and downs and twists and turns, but I have faith that I will end up exactly where God wants me to be.

  • Lauren Hood

    I loved Commissioner Houston’s honesty and authenticity about her journey to the position she is in and her ideas on leadership. I believe one of the most, if not the most important, area of our leadership and jouney in life will be our why- what motivates everything we do. We need a strong why and a high dose of passion in anything we want to do well and anything that we care about. Personally my why is my faith in Jesus. That changes everything for me- the way I see people, opportunities, challenges and all events in life. Life is what you make it and how you see it. Everyone is so beautifully different. For me, my faith is guided by the Bible which I believe is God’s word and that is my why in every area of life. But almost everyone’s why is so different and we need to learn to embrace it! I believe with my whole heart that from our “Why” flows our passion, relationship, adventures and life.

  • Alexis Guzman

    Commissioner Houston talked about the impact that changing our perspective can have on our everyday lives. She mention how easy it is for us to change our interpretation, since doing so only requires as to think about the situation from another point of view. The example that she gave us, was of how she changes her interpretation almost every day as she drives on I-35, many times as we drive it is almost impossible to not get mad at other drivers that get in our way, drive to fast or too slow, and so when it happens we think negatively of such people. But if we were to change our perspective and see the situation from a point of view were those people that are not driving correctly have a reason to be doing, maybe because they have to get to the hospital or they have a family emergency. Then in that case we would not get mad, but rather feel like we should get out of their way as a way to help them. If we were to do that, our lives will be a bit less stressful. Such concept really stayed with me because I personally experience events like the one she talked about almost every day. I am determined to incorporate what I learned from her with the purpose to live a healthier less stressful life.

  • Joshua layton

    My favorite points Mrs. Houston discussed involved not assuming things about people, and to try and see it a different way. She used the example of the person cutting you off to get to their family who had just gotten in a wreck. I love this ideology because it’s something we lack today as a society. Often times, we choose a side and refuse to see anything on the other. Current US politics are a great example of this- with the democrats and the republicans. I appreciated how she discussed opening your mind to new ideas and people. I believe if we all did this, Cooperation wouldn’t be as hard as it seems in our current time. Not only that, but it will help us socially to get along with more people and have a better well-being. Overall, I also believe that open-mindedness is the key to success in diverse populations.

  • Sierra Munoz

    As Melissa Houston discussed, life is very unexpected and you have no idea where you will end up along the journey. For Houston, one example of this was the OKC bombing in 1995. Earlier that morning she had no idea that within a few hours she would be the survivor of a terrorist attack. This lead her to find her passion of living a life of public service. Personally I experienced something like this my sophomore year of high school when I out-of-the-blew tore my ACL during our first basketball practice. I was completely in shock and knew my chances of college basketball just slipped away. Through this I discovered rowing and found my way as a college rower at UCO. If I had never torn my ACL I can 99.9% say I would not be here rowing. This means I would not have the new amazing teammates I have now and might not be at a college I love as much as UCO. I have no idea what other unexpected events will happen to me that will change my path at UCO but I know in the end it will all work out they way it is meant to be.

  • Rachel Walker

    Melissa Houston talked about her traumatic experience with the OKC bombing and how it affects her everyday activities. She is a perfect example of someone who was living life day to day and all of a sudden a tragic event happens that could’ve been fatal for her. Life can throw some crazy curveballs at us and they are usually never anything we can control, but we do have control on how we react to them. We only get one life and it’s up to us to decide how we live it; how many opportunities we take, the memories we make, the chances we take. But we can’t let little things drag us down, we need to always have a smile on our face and push through our even hardest days. Houston gave an amazing message that re-opened my eyes and made me think about how much I need to appreciate all the opportunities I have been given in life.

  • Jacob Thompson

    I enjoyed Commissioner Houston’s speech this week. Her talk about choosing promotions that may not always have a big salary, but may turn out to be a better fit was interesting.

    I feel that no matter what I do, I will always choose the job that I will most enjoy. When I graduate from college, I am going to look for a career in a field that I am interested in. I’m not sure what I will go on to do, but I will have a great time finding out.

  • Karlee Ogden

    I really enjoyed hearing what Melissa Houston had to say regarding the who, what, where, when, and why of situations. On “who”, she mentioned knowing who you are and what your strengths are. On “what”, she said to take as many opportunities as possible. I especially liked what she had to say about “where”. Here she incorporated some elements from her life and how it was affected by the Oklahoma City bombing. She also brought up the Oklahoma Standard. Talking about “when”, she spoke about how it is important to focus on what you want in life. Lastly, she spoke of “why”. On this topic, she said to remember why you got to where you are and also remember the “how” of how you got there (your education, skills, and being mindful of perception). Lastly, I liked what she had to say about having “soft” skills. Soft skills are little things- like having a good attitude, writing thank you notes, and so on. I really liked Melissa Houston and hearing her thoughts.

  • Cole Spradlin

    Her topic really hit home for me when she spoke. I know my why. I know how to get to my why. I am just not sure I have to drive to get it done. It is a scary thought go all out for it and find yourself giving up on it. Her talk helped me realize if it is truly Your why you will do what is needed to get it done. I can find my drive in my why because it’s a strong movement to keep you going towards my goal.

  • Madelynn Dancer

    I really enjoyed when Melissa Houston discussed the importance on focusing on your “who, what, when, where, and why” in life, much as a journalist would when covering a story. Her words made me realize how important it is to be able to market myself to anyone, anywhere, in a short amount of time. They also showed me the significance of finding my dislikes in a career pathway. Before her presentation, I had never considered how important this is. Next, she reminded me to create a “whole” life for myself through lifelong relationships and timeless memories. Lastly, my love for Oklahoma grew even stronger, but most importantly I was encouraged to remember my “why” in life. Her traffic stories reminded me just how lucky I am to be healthy, loved, and attending the University of Central Oklahoma. Overall, her words humbled me and renewed my inspiration for this remaining semester and the rest of my life journey.

  • Melanie Holcomb

    I enjoyed her topic on figuring out your own why. Everyone is raised to have different beliefs and morals so figuring out one’s why is a major part of not only becoming a leader but of growing up. We are at a point in our lives were we get to choose our path in life. We get to explore this world and all it has to offer, especially now with progressive technology at out very fingertips. For some, finding out why will take a long time while others have had it since childhood. No one’s why is better than the others.

  • Robia Charbonneau

    What is my why? I must say that before coming to UCO I had never had that question. However, I like the way it makes me think. I do what I do because of my passion for helping people. It is a wonderful feeling to help others in any way; may it be giving directions or helping a patient in a hospital. I can remember that ever since I was young I wanted to do jobs that could change people’s lives. I first thought to be an architect, like my father, to draw buildings that were different than others and could help people in more ways than other buildings. In high school, I changed my mind to become a psychologist because the mind was so interesting to me. I wanted to help people get over disorders. However, that changed again during my first semester of college. I decided to be a nurse because when I was hospitalized, I felt cared for by my nurse and I wanted to make other people feel that same way. In all these jobs, I see one thing in common; helping people. My passion is to enhance the lives of others, I tend to always put others need before mine almost to my detriment, but I would not exchange it for anything else. I have seen some impact I have made on others by the way they followed the advice I gave them. It truly is a wonderful feeling I want to keep feeling for the rest of my life. In this way, my why will always be fulfilled.

  • Tyren Chestnut

    I want to talk about the unexpected path your life’s journey will take because one of the things Commissioner Houston spoke on was having a good attitude. As we all know in life things don’t always go as expected, and I think as a leader that’s something we should really be conscious of at all times. A good leader will continue to have a good and positive attitude even when things don’t look so swell because as a leader you are always being looked at. We as leaders have to set an example in every situation.

  • Yu Chien Wang

    I agree with speaker that she recommend us to get some internships in our future life. Because I think internship job is a very good opportunity to realize what you really want to learn, also it is a chance to challenge yourself to experience real career life. Not only you can learn a lots, but also can select what kind of skill that you want to enhance through internship job. In my case, I did some internship jobs before, and learned a lot of professional skill at that time, so I very appreciated those experience. Also because of internship job, I found my life goal and what I want to do after I graduate.

  • Katelynn Patton

    I really enjoyed how Commissioner Houston explained that she learned something from each season in life. I think it is really easy to become discouraged when you are not sure about what you want to do in life. When one does not have a passion, many times he/she can feel like his/her life is hopeless and meaning less. Many people also have difficulty putting effort and hard work into areas they do not feel will be a part of their future. Commissioner Houston suggests that when you feel as though you have not found your passion, you should take each opportunity to learn something new. She switched jobs many times but says that she picked up valuable skills from each job. It is often hard to see the positive in things we do not think matter, but in the long run, we learn from everything. Commissioner Houston suggested keeping a gratitude journal. Not only would this help one recognize the current positives in life, but it would also help him/her in the future look back and see what positives he/she did not recognize before. It can be a great form of encouragement. It is okay to not know your “why.” I believe your “why” comes to each person on its own time. What is important is that you do the best you can in every situation so you can gain the most out of life.

  • Emelia Denham

    One topics that Melissa Houston discussed was how beneficial attitude changes can be on your personal growth and success. She mentioned that if you change the dialogue in your head it can change your perspective on life. For example, if someone was being rude to you, you need to take in consideration what could be happening in their own life. By doing this, you have a better mindset and outlook on life. She also mentioned how gratitude can be life changing. You never know how your kind words can influence people.

  • Yu hsuan Lin

    Mrs. Houston mentioned that career can work in another country, it is correct for us to follow because skipping comfortable zone make us stronger and individual, living alone can improve management of crisis skill and make friends from all over the world. Friends are invisible assets that we can acquire diverse thoughts from any issue let our brain uses and think more. “Good attitude” is a main point when we get along with people, change dialogues in your mind and use more comfortable conversation make others feel well. Respect others, if you want to be respected. To search what you like and it will give you interesting to learn more information from any place whatever internet or books make you become a deeper person. If we have opportunities, we can do volunteer and internship involve different fields.

  • I feel like the unexpected turns and changes are what us make who we are, it is what makes us feel alive. If we knew what to expect every step of life, we would be bored. We would have nothing to anticipate or look forward to. Although not all surprises and unexpected twists are good, they are how we grow and adapt. In the end they change just a little bit of us. I feel like as a leader, you must be able to adapt and change along with these things that come about. I have learned no matter how much you plan and prepare something, like an event for example, something unexpected will happen. Weather it be that you didn’t expect as many people to show up and you don’t have enough food or you forgot the cups, there will always be a situation that you will have to improvise and adapt to.

  • Pin-Yu Tsai

    I really agree with her thought especially soft skill and gratitude. Attitude is our soft skill. In Chinese, there is a maxim: The attitude determines the altitude. “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” by Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker. Attitude is such an important thing. It likes a first impression; it shows who you are and how your personality is. Having a good attitude will give a good impression to someone even your managers. Next, it’s gratitude. Marnie Taylor has mentioned the G’s before and one of the G’s is gratitude. Ms. Houston and Ms. Taylor all mentioned gratitude and thanks for five things in a day. I think gratitude must be so important in leadership. Gratitude would not only help you look the world in different ways but also change the dialog in your head; moreover, your attitude might change because you think the difference with others. Therefore, I think even though you have a great talent, you don’t have a great attitude, you won’t be successful in leadership.

  • Caleb Williams

    Commissioner Houston discussed changing our interpretations of events and challenges as a way to develop our leadership capabilities. This is something I hadn’t previously considered relating to leadership until now, but after contemplating the results of this, I completely agree. Framing our circumstances with a positive attitude is key to productivity. So often we go about our lives assuming things about the people we encounter and work with, and then make judgments based off of those assumptions. When we seek to understand and step into the shoes of others instead, we can be far more effective leaders. This allows us to better evaluate the strengths and capabilities of others, factors that all affect how we work as a team. More empathy for people in our lives increases things like patience, and understanding. This in turn can increase productivity in our private and public lives. A positive attitude can really make a a big difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.

  • Chloe McKinney

    I found Commissioner Houston’s advice about changing how we interpret life’s challenges extremely interesting. I often find myself getting frustrated or overwhelmed with minor inconveniences in everyday life. I allow these events to alter my entire mindset or attitude throughout the day, and often not in a positive way. If I were to apply Commissioner Houston’s advice about changing how I view these things, even though my interpretation may not be accurate, I could improve my day to day mood. In doing this, I could become more positive and productive. Overall, this one simple change could allow me to better overcome obstacles that are preventing me from becoming a successful leader.

  • Brook Marshall

    I really enjoyed Commissioner Houston’s talk. She encouraged the students that don’t have a plan for their life. You don’t have to have everything planned out to a tee to be successful. I also like what Commissioner Houston said about changing your attitude and prospective about the events around you. Her example of driving in traffic really made me realize that I should be giving people the benefit of the doubt. When you don’t think of the people around you as trying to sabotage you it really helps to get over some of the stuff that goes on in your everyday life. Thank you Commissioner Houston for a funny and impactful talk, you helped get me through the rest of the week with a good attitude.

  • Bianca Navarro

    Melissa Houston mentioned lots of things that would help us become successful leaders. One thing she said that stuck with me was, “be mindful of the perception – the soft skills.” There are going to be people we end up working with who will work in different ways than you might. Your co-worker may be older and are used to more “traditional” methods of doing things, whereas you are able to do things at a faster pace with a different method. There could be certain things people are looking for when interviewing someone. This is something that stuck with me the most, no matter who may be interviewing you, or what the position is, send them a note. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just to let them know you appreciated them taking time away from their day to speak with you; it’s the little things that end up showing the most about you.

  • Megan Watkins

    During Commissioner Melissa Houston’s discussion with us on Tuesday, she spoke of something that really drew my attention. She talked about how sometimes she has to take a negative or frustrating scenario and change it. Process what the reasons for that scenario might be. She used the example of backed up traffic. She explained that she was getting worked up over a car that got onto the shoulder of the road to pass the traffic because she had places to be as well. When she came to find out that the car was only trying to get to the scene of the accident that had traffic backed up because of their loved ones had been involved in the crash. She explained that her mindset immediately shifted because she felt for the family and felt terrible that she had so much anger towards the vehicle just moments prior. As a young person, I can admit that I have trouble with this as well. I believe that if I begin to use this technique, I can begin to grow as a leader by not allowing my personal issues and even selfishness to get in the way another’s much larger issue. Thank you, Commissioner Melissa Houston, for coming and sharing this simple way to improve our lives and leadership capabilities.

  • Evilin Juanes

    I think it is really important to be able to view any obstacle that you may come across in a different way. It’s important to not just get caught up in the now but to think ahead and turn it into a life lesson. I think its very helpful when you are able to see an obstacle or problem as a life lesson rather than just a roadblock because we shouldn’t let those type of things holds us back. With any career or life situation, you can get through the events that occur so much faster and smoother if you don’t concentrate on the bad but the good part of it. It might not be ideal but thinking of a hard time as a detour, not the destination is a good strategy because you’re just taking the scenic route in life, and its more beautiful that way.

  • Linus Hodges

    Commissioner Houston emphasized the importance of developing ones “Soft Skills” when building leadership qualities. She told the class how a simple thank you letter could influence ones opportunities. When one shows gratitude through simple gestures, their being mindful of the person’s time and giving respect. The ability to maintain a positive attitude as well as show gratitude increases the likelihood of personal and work related success because those qualities are valuable to a potential employer, colleague or friend.

  • Sini Noronen

    I chose the tragedy what she was going through when the Oklahoma bombing happened. How she didn’t go to therapy straight away and the trauma just postponed. I think she is a very strong woman and how she has continued to live and work for the society. I hate to say that everything happens for a reason when someone has gone through such a horrible thing. I think sometimes you put yourself to the back ground and don’t take care of yourself when you actually need help. It made me realize that some things just are and you can’t really affect them. In the end of the day we are not superheroes we are humans.

  • Morgan Tarpley

    Melissa briefly mentioned her role in the 9/11 bombing. She had mentioned in detail how she is stronger in certain areas of her life and how she is weaker in other areas. Melissa talked about how each event that morning played a roll into where she was when the bomb went off. She stated that she analyzed her entire morning leading up to the bombing.
    Though this was a tragic moment in her life along with many others, I believe this experience can be related to many other events that happen in our lives. Other events may not be as extreme, but they have the similar timeline. For example, many of us may experience an event in our life that we would define as “life changing” or “life defining.” Personally, I think in these “life sculpting” moments, we should reflect back on what moments and decisions led up to this event. What helped shape us into being prepared for this moment? What can we depict was part of making the event so important to us?

  • Reagan Whitlock

    Commissioner Houston spoke on many things but one thing that really stood out to me was when she spoke on attitude. She spoke about how attitude can determine many things that happen in your life. There are so many instances when our attitudes can become very negative. Especially as leaders I feel as though we can often feel overwhelmed and even frustrated with our work or team. Melissa Houston also said whenever we have these negative attitudes, “change the dialogue in your head.” Her words spoke volumes, this is exactly the mind set we should have. Instead of dwelling on our poor attitudes we need to change our thoughts around. I aspire to practice this type of positivity in my life as a leader. I also liked what she had to say on having a “Why.” Its important to know why you are doing what you’re doing. Know your purpose for being involved. What Commissioner Houston had to say inspired me, I plan to use her ideas in my everyday life.

  • Hsiang-Chin Hsu

    Commissioner Houston discussed a number of items related to leadership success. The part that I thought the most useful is about “soft skills”. She said when the candidates of the position who have the same technical skills, someone who has a soft skill called “great attitude” is the best candidate. Because he or she was willing to deal with problems. When I face some challenge, I should have the great attitude too. I finish the job on time. If the thing is too hard to me, I should ask someone to help, and learn how to solve the problem. I mustn’t give up.

  • Kenzie Taylor

    Commissioner Houston was a wonderful speaker and a wonderful example of a great leader. I hate to simply focus on one thing, but the fact that she took the Oklahoma City bombing and turned it into an event that would help shape the rest of her life for the better is amazing to me. This is the biggest sign of strenght, determination, and self care I think a person can show. It’s amazing to hear her perspective on the event and hear how it effected her personally. I commend Houston for being so strong, and she is someone I will remember.

  • Lillian Baker

    During her talk, Commissioner Houston talked about the whys of what we are doing. I think that is the biggest part of anything you do. The whys dictate how much effort you put into something. If your why is about something you’re passionate about, the you’ll care about the outcome more. If your why is because you have to, you’re only gonna do what’s required. Your whys determine your path. And my whys will look different than your whys. And that’s okay. God created us all equal. But he also created all unquie. That is what makes this all work together. So find others with the same whys as you. Find people with different whys. Don’t be afraid to let your whys change. But always remember to think about the why as you approach a new circumstance.

  • Graeme Morrison

    The thing that struck me most during Commissioner Houston’s presentation to us was her thoughts on the interpretation of obstacles and changes and how you deal with them. I think this aspect hit me the most because it is real; all of us will have different life experiences that throw us for a loop. Commissioner Houston’s life had another unexpected bump when she was stuck in the Oklahoma City bombing, and that also hits close to home because my aunt was also a victim of the Oklahoma City bombing and fortunately she walked away – but she still has issues with loud noises, overcrowded areas, and she couldn’t fill her own car with gas for a long time because the smell of the gasoline brought back memories for her she didn’t want to relive. Commissioner Houston talked about how she has PTSD symptoms as well, but she still perseveres day by day, just like my Aunt Cyndi. The people like these two woman are the bravest of all of us – they walk through the valley of the shadow of death every day with their heads held high. If they can do that, we can deal with the small inconvieniences in our lives. You must be resilient for those whose opportunity was cut from them. The strength to overcome our obstacles is internal, and it’s in every single one of us – we just have to find it.

  • Hilda Estrada

    Commissioner Houston discussed about the impact we will have from the people we meet in college. Commissioner Houston also mentioned, finding a mentor and having connections with people will help us continue to our leadership goals. Thankfully, I was blessed to have found a wonderful mentor at UCO, Dr. Susan Scott. I am grateful to have met Dr. Scott, as she has become a crucial person in my life and my education. I have learned about service learning with her, along with having opportunities to meet her wonderful acquaintances. My mentor has encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and begin to work on my future goals towards leadership right now. I am doing so slowly, but efficiently and meaningful. It has not been easy due to obstacles, but my plan is to NEVER give up, as the community from my future leadership goals need someone to advocate for them. My life has changed through the many people I have met at UCO. Although I cannot give as much back as I would like to right now, I know a THANK YOU note can be very significant at the end of the day.

  • Ren Jian Lee

    There was a story mentioned of her getting passed by another driver on the highway. She was irritated because she believed that the other driver did not deserve to be ahead of her. However, she later realized that that driver had a family member who was involved in an accident ahead, and regretted judging him. This story taught me that I should try to interpret events around me in favor of others, and that viewing things from different perspectives is important in life, especially as a leader.

  • Cole MacCollister

    For me personally, Commissioner Houston’s first hand account of the Oklahoma City Bombing was very interesting and heart wrenching to hear. I have always been interested in the OKC bombing and have visited the memorial a few times. However, I have never actually heard an eyewitness account of the event. I really appreciated that Commissioner Houston was vulnerable with us and explained the impact that the bombing had on her personal life and mental health. I had also never thought about the repercussions it may have had on people, so it was very interesting to hear what she had to deal with for years after the actual bombing. I also liked hearing how she was able to move on from this traumatic event and how she used it as a motivation to succeed in her life. She is a prime example that someone can move on from a past experience and push toward a brighter and more successful future.

  • Maddie Higdon

    I love that Melissa Houston touched on the idea that your life will take unexpected turns. I think my favorite thing about life so far is when you figure out why certain doors closed and how it was for the better. In high school, my top priority or goal was to make it into the jazz and chorale choir at Norman North. I auditioned every single year and got denied every single year. Never in a million years would I have thought that being in the “bad choir” would be better for me long term but it was! I learned so much from that entire experience. Perseverance, leadership, hard work, and that it isn’t all about you!! It’s all about bettering the team. If I wouldn’t have stayed in Women’s Chorus and become the president, and grow closer to my teacher, I don’t know if I would be here, at UCO. I am so so thankful for that experience and college so far keeps surprising me. So yes, life doesn’t go as planned and I think we should all value that a little more.

  • Rylie Smith

    Commissioner Houston made many great points
    regarding leadership, but the most impactful for me was her discussion on attitude. She explained that attitude is extremely important and it reveals a lot about your character if you have a positive attitude in stressful or frustrating situations. Another point that she made relating to attitude was to change the dialog in your head in an
    upsetting or irritating situation. This really put into perspective the benefits of keeping a positive attitude and being aware that people around you have struggles too. This can be applied in leadership when you have a complicated project that you have to maneuver. If everyone involved kept a positive attitude, there is a greater potential for success. I think sometimes even one person with a positive outlook can motivate their peers in circumstances that seem unpromising or grim. We as leaders have the potential to turn things around and inspire others to stay motivated in their endeavors.

  • Taylor Powell

    Commissioner Houston did a great job challenging us, as students, on ways to become a better leader. One of the things she mentioned was to take advantage of the opportunities life gives you. As a leader, it is a great way to reach out to others and make a impact. Some opportunities are a once in a life time experience, so take the chance while it is right in front of you. While taking advantage of the great experiences in life, Commissioner Houston challenged us to be ourselves. She said everybody is unique in your own way, and that is what makes a person who they are. Leadership is a great way to reach out to others while experiencing great opportunities along the way!

  • I loved hearing the Commissioner speak. She made a lot of very impactful and important points and telling us about her experiences and past, though painful for her, was very moving. Her status and positions were also very impressive, but there was one thing that I did not completely agree with. Though occasionally you can change your outlook and your point of view: on your relationship with a co-worker or classmate, your outlook on your day, and things like that. I believe it is a very important and useful tool, especially in leadership. At the same time, sometimes you just cannot do that. In situations like she was talking about with depression or trauma, sometimes you can’t control your reactions and your interpretation of events, and I feel like that is very important to talk about too. Through the extensive research that my service project group has done and that I did on my own on mental health, we learned a lot about how your mind works, especially in response to mental illness. So although I enjoyed her talk and agree with her points, even the majority of the one mentioned, I also believe that it is very important to think about those who, perhaps, cannot do everything as we expect we should.

  • Maritza DeLoera

    Melissa Houston discussed how she didn’t have a set path to follow for what she wanted to achieve in life. Her path included many other paths that helped her mold who she is because of the things she was faced with. I feel like this could be applied in being a leader. Inevitably our paths will consist of change but how we handle it will shape us. We must learn from what we are faced with and let it help us grow. All paths will never be appealing but each path will teach us something about ourselves. There is no set path in being a leader. The leader within us is revealed through the growth we make from these different paths.

  • Ethan Bruegel

    My favorite thing that Commissioner Houston brought up was the story about the aggressive driver. I find it so often that everyone including me judges everyone’s actions by how it affects them directly, and not about the bigger picture. I hold the belief that every human action has a reason for it, whether it be good or bad. I feel that as a society we should judge people more on their reasoning than their actions. Like the driver approaching the wreck of a friend, most people have a reason for their questionable actions, and I chose to judge their reasons before their actions.

  • Kyle Tangco

    There was one lesson that Commissioner Houston stated that stuck to me, and that was to learn how to build my “soft skills.” Yes, the characteristics that mold you to be an effective leader, being that in your skills and occupational position, are powers you can use to influence your community. But beyond a leader who is the best athlete, student, or individual in any certain activity, you need to solidify the skills that are internal; skills that control your character, emotions, and behavior towards others. This is were being humble has to be the balancing factor to pride in leadership, as one side may lead to arrogance.

    In regards to one of the main topics that Commissioner Houston addressed, I believe her stance on adapting your behavior to certain adversaries fits well with my thoughts on having gratitude. Some people adhere to the idea that we must direct our choices to the paths that will directly lead to success. The disadvantage, however, is that this sense of narrow-mindedness limits our abilities to discover untapped strengths and passions. We take for granted the littlest things that build us up as leaders, but with a change of heart and a positive outlook, we can have the abilities to extend our palette of perks and attributes that can make us flexible in any scenario in life.

    I am learning this myself, and I choose to be a encouraging figure in my community. Not only do I want to be known, in regards to future occupations, as a successful individual, I also want to be recognized as a person who is altruistic, uplifting, wise, kind, and convicted to the true values of leadership. As what Commissioner Houston said, it is the soft-skills that matter too.

  • Emily Norman

    Commissioner Houston had a lot of great points about the internal perspective of external success. I really enjoyed her thoughts on “hard and soft skills”. The hard skills being the things you put down on paper to qualify yourself for a job, and the soft skills being the internal state of mind and characteristics that you harbor that give you the capacity to be successful. One of the “soft skills” that she named was gratitude. Just as Marnie Taylor discussed in the previous week’s speech, Commissioner Houston said that “gratitude cultivates a good attitude, even when you don’t feel like it.” I really liked this because as a leader you won’t always feel like showing gratitude to those who are difficult to work with or do not share the same views as you. However, it is important to be grateful for those veiws, because a well rounded decision, is a good decision.

  • Jake Seawright

    One thing that Melissa Houston said that really stuck with me was about changing you’re perspective. When she mentioned how she was driving one the highway the other day and a man rushed to pass her, she changed her perspective to not get mad or agitated. While I do think that it will be hard to doing that, I do believe it is a great way to control unnecessary outburst that may cause unwanted conflict. An Unexpected path my life will take would have to be Vet school I interned for a vet this summer and really enjoyed it! Having this internship really helped me decide what jab I really wanted to get in the future. Being a vet is something I would have never thought about due to the fact of putting animals down. I am glad that the vet I interned for helped me overcome that obstacle. I am also glad I got to hear from someone affiliated with the department of wages, I believe that the work they do is very important, from the wages to the work environment.

  • Austin Loard

    I enjoyed hearing Labor Commissioner Houston discuss our changing interpretations of events and unexpected paths our lives take. This reminded me of how my plans regarding UCO changed unexpectedly when I learned I had gotten an interview for a possible leadership scholarship.
    I had known I wanted to go to UCO for several years. I had been interested in forensic science and knew they had a great forensics program. I had taken of tour of the forensics building and couldn’t wait to apply. When I thought about my future at UCO, it only involved the forensics program. My cousin Aspen, had told me to be sure and apply early to be eligible for potential scholarships. Some of my high school teachers and my football coach talked about how I should take on a leadership role with my peers, but I had never really given it much thought or really considered my self a leader. While completing the application process and listing what I had accomplished in school, I realized I had been more of a leader in my class than I had thought but still my focus was only on forensic science. That all changed when I learned I had been selected for an interview. I was nervous before my interview and didn’t know what to expect as I walked through the doors of the Leadership office. But soon after being seated in the waiting room and talking to some of the students who were already part of PLC and LOT, I knew that I wanted to be part of what was happening there, even if I didn’t know exactly why. Before I had even learned I would be a part of LOT, my impression of UCO had changed. After being accepted in LOT, the next big change happened at the banquet in the spring. After we took the group photo, we had a chance to meet the other LOT students. I immediately knew I would enjoy being a part of this group as I began to talk to some of them. I had wondered about making friends at UCO but through events like Forge and the LOT retreat, I already had made new friends before I ever arrived on campus. I know that being a part of LOT has changed my life already because of the friends I have made and how it has helped me become involved in ways I never would have otherwise. This was really brought home to me when I went home for fall break. While at the football game, I spoke to a girl that I had gone to school with since the 7th grade. She was always very involved in school. She had been an athlete, playing softball and basket ball. She had been a cheerleader and been selected as a finalist for Homecoming queen having asked me to escort her during the ceremony. She went to another college and I had not spoken to her since we both started college. I asked her how she was enjoying school and was surprised when she said she hated it. She said she had not made any friends and could not seem to find anything to get involved in at school. She said she mostly just went to class and went back to her dorm room. I was shocked to hear her say that, but I was reminded how my time at UCO could have been much different if I had not gotten the opportunity to be a part of LOT.

  • Casey Base

    When Melissa Houston talked about what your why is it really grabbed my attention. In football we have talked about this and I have definitely given it some thought. My reason for trying to be the best leader I can be is that I always want to be a role model for younger kids. I believe children today don’t have many people to look up to and it is a big reason why they don’t get far in life. If kids find can find a good person to emulate it can help them in the future.

  • Jarrod Barnett

    Commissioner Houston was one of my favorite speakers this semester. Whenever she spoke about changing the dialogue in your head if you have a bad attitude really stood out to me. I had never really thought about changing the situation in my head to make it better. She also said something that I have been a fan of for a long time, and it also goes along with the previous point. Learn how to fake it, I am a fan of this saying because there will be plenty of times in life that things will not go your way, and you won’t be able to change it so you will have to go along with it. Learning to fake it can take you a long ways.

  • Garrett Gunn

    Every speaker we have had so far has brought their very own unique perspective, but Commissioner Houston offered insight that I found extremely beneficial. My favorite piece of information that she touched on was being able to change your interpretations when difficult events or challenges occur. Nothing is going to go smoothly all the time, but we must be able to make the best out of every situation. Also, we must be able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes because we do not always know what is going on in other people’s lives. Stress will always be apart of our lives, but it will be easier to handle and we will gain so much more if we are able to change our mindsets in order to see the positive things in every situation.

  • Wanda Clark

    I very much enjoyed how Commissioner Houston went through the, “who, what, when, where, why, and how,” of leadership, but the two parts that I found most interesting were the “who” and “how.” One of the hardest things to remember, especially when moving to college and trying to find your new identity, is who you are. Remembering what your core values and passions are is vital to success both personally and in the leadership world, but sometimes this can be hard, especially when there are so many new ideas presented to you on the college campus. This plethora of new experiences is both amazing and overwhelming. The idea of being able to talk about your skills in the time it takes to use an elevator was amazingly helpful and I cannot wait to try and craft my own, “Elevator Speech.” The “How” of leadership was also very pertinent to my life. I found it interesting that both the Commissioner and Marnie Taylor talked about the idea of a gratitude journal and how it can change your attitude. That is something that I need to work on. I wear my heart on my sleeve and sometimes that can lead to me overacting and taking on a horrible attitude about unimportant issues. I need to learn to change the dialogue in my head and remember that everyone around me is human with their own struggles, and I cannot judge them based on one bad experience. Commissioner Houston’s talk was very relevant and pertinent to what I think many of us are going through now and I cannot wait to be able to put some of her ideas into practice.

  • Kennedi Breuklander

    Melissa Houston talked about her experience in the Oklahoma bombing and how much it impacted her life. As a part of the bombing, she talked about the ways Oklahomans came together in a time of great disaster. She said how because of this massive coming together from the people of Oklahoma that this became the “Oklahoma Standard” and that the citizens who live her have stuck to that reputation of caring and putting aside their own issues during times of need. She talked about how this is one of the many reasons she loves Oklahoma so much and why she believes todays Oklahoma youth should stay and build their lives in this great state. I think it is important to have such pride in your state and it is good to have someone so prideful in a position like hers.

  • Catie Wilson

    The idea of “changing dialogue” in frustrating circumstances has never occurred to me. This new concept is most definitely something you would have to practice. Nearly every human beings reaction to something that frustrates them is to think negatively about the person that inflicts the initial frustration. A lot of times the frustrating situations are out of anyone’s control and it is our responsibilities as leaders to take the frustration gracefully and take away any positive that you can. The example Melissa Houston gave was about being frustrated by other drivers. There was bumper to bumper traffic and a guy flew by her in the shoulder. She immediately thought to herself, “what makes him think he can do that? How rude of him!” Later when she passed the accident that had created the traffic she saw his vehicle there. There are so many times when I do something so similar to this, or get frustrated with my roommates for leaving their dishes, or for my professor not explaining something to where it makes sense to me. In these situations I have to think about the fact that my roommates have other things on their mind and also have busy schedules. I also have to realize that the way my professor is explaining curriculum more than likely makes sense to other students and it is my responsibility to ask questions or visit office hours for the help that I need. Changing the dialogue of a frustrating situation or simply just thinking of others responsibilities before your own can quickly change your mindset about the frustration you have just felt. Although this would take practice, once you get in the habit of this mindset, it will become a habit.

  • Angelique Jois Alog

    My family and I have always practiced changing our interpretation of events and challenges. We don’t believe that worrying about things we can’t control, like how other people live their lives, are worth our energy. In fact, instead of being upset when people cut us off while we’re on the road, my mom told my siblings and I to just assume they have impulsive diarrhea. My mom have mastered turning unwanted occurance into something positive, or even something funny. As a leader, I try to do the same thing. I believe that going through life positively and picking your battles is important. Life’s too short to worry about things that may not matter as much.

  • Curtis Diaz

    All of the topics Commissioner Houston brought up are heavy questions, but I think the one that resonates with me the most is finding what my “why” is. I want to believe that everyone was created for a purpose, but I don’t think we can ever learn for sure what it is even if a creator gave us one. As a result, I think it is up to the individual to determine what their “why” is. For me, my “why” is inspiring others to find the best in themselves and to make the most of their situation. I feel like it is my calling to help other people find the passion in their lives. This idea is similar to the idea of changing your interpretation. I practice looking on the lighter side of situations a majority of the time. I feel it makes life more fun for anyone involved!

  • Dayton Skeels

    I believe one topic that she touched on that is very relatable to people in college and straight out of college is to leave your options open to where you work. Sometimes you have to take the worst job possible to get to the big leagues. Its understandable that you think, “Oh, I just got my degree and spent all of this money I should have a very good/easy job that pays a ton.” However, once you take those lower end jobs you see things happen like Commissioner Houston touched base on. Such as people coming to you for promotions, other jobs, or overall just admiring your work ethic. If you work hard at what ever position you are in, I can promise about 99% of the time that it won’t go unnoticed. Work hard, be effective, stay positive, and you will succeed.

  • Sarah Faust

    Ms. Houston has been of my favorite speakers so far because I could really relate to her stories. One thing that really interested me is how she looked at her life after the bombing in Oklahoma City. She explained to us how she felt and what she saw in the building that day and how her life changed dramatically after. She seems to have a different outlook on life. She used an example on if someone is passing you on the side of the highway and they are cutting people off, speeding in front of you, then you might see them as a jerk. Yet, if you look at it as they are racing to the hospital to say goodbye to their dying mother then you would kindly move out of the way. I really liked how Ms. Houston viewed life and had such an appreciation for it after the bombing. An appreciating and grace that I strive to have one day.

  • Emily Nelson

    I really thought it was amazing to hear about her life experiences and how she was able to overcome her greatest struggles. I was especially drawn to her journal about what she was thankful for. Sometimes it is so hard to just find something small that brings joy into your life. Changing your interpretation of the things that happen in your life is so powerful. Recently, I have been really caught up in stress, emotions, and my mental health. I went through a period and of feeling very hopeless about my happiness. I felt like I was in a hole I couldn’t get out of. During that time, I was able to reflect on my self. I realized that I am very in touch with my emotions and that is a good thing. I am blessed to know and understand my self and my emotions. I realized that in order to feel all the amazing things that I do, I have to feel the same in the not so amazing things that happen in life, and its okay. I just have to remind my self that this is good, be in the moment and embrace it.

  • Lance Cooter

    To start off, I want to thank Commissioner Houston for taking the time out of her day to come and talk to us about leadership and the path to success. This reminds of the time when my path changed when I got the opportunity to be in the Leaders of Tomorrow organization. This was a major change to my path due to the fact that I am paying for my college and did not really know if i was gonna able to afford going to the University of Central Oklahoma. Luckily, though I was able to get the scholarship and come to this wonderful college. I have met so many people and have really made some awesome relationships that I might not of made if it was for this scholarship. So overall, this is how my path changed and it changed for the better.

  • jjohnson217

    Commissioner Houston talked about unexpected life changes. This subject resonates with me throughout my life. From my life as an adolescent until now has been full of life changes. I have had to deal with major illnesses with my mom as well as transitioning from school to school due to issues of my own. Being able to persevere through all of this has made me a stronger man and a better person. I live so that I can constantly persevere and make a difference in my own life as well as others who struggle. This path is hard fought. but reward is worth the pain. I appreciate these life changes because it has made me the person I am today.

  • Lauren Beck

    The most interesting piece that Mrs. Houston discussed, in my opinion, was the Murrah Bombing. While, this was not her main piece of information/ advice that she shared, this hit home with me more than anything else. One reason I connected with it had to do with the earlier class assignment in the Thursday class which involved writing our thoughts on the American Dream. In my short essay, I wrote about the hurricane in Texas and how Americans always manage to come together in a time of need. This same thing happened in Oklahoma: Oklahomans came together in a time of need and helped out in any way they could.

  • Amanda Rebman

    One of the questions that Commissioner Houston stated that stuck out to me was “What are you doing to contribute to the world?” This really made me think about how I am working to change the world or more accurately how I am not. I have only been doing community service lately because it is required for a class or a scholarship. I used to love helping others out. I have just been in a lull lately. I really feel challenged by that question to volunteer and make the world a better place. I want to be able to help, so that maybe fewer people will be hurting. Another way I want to contribute to the world is showing my faith to others. My faith is a very important factor in my life. I want to be able to show others the light that is in within me because of God, so that they too can feel this amazing presence. The world would be a better place if people would just be kind and loving to everyone. That sort of attitude must start somewhere, so I am going to make it my personal challenge to live life in a loving manner.

  • Ethan Clark

    I think that one of the most important aspects of leadership is the ability to see things from a different perspective than your own. To be able to see things through others eyes and be able to understand from their point of view. When this happens then we are much more susceptible to sympathy and changing our views to compromise with those that we are working with so that we can create success in what we are working towards.

  • Reandre Clark

    The topic about how she over came her fear after the bombing. That made me think about how valuable your time is on earth, every day on earth is valuable because it could be token in a blink of an eye. Her bravery and courage inspired me to face my fears head on because its just one obstacle away from want you want.

  • Lindsey Bruce

    Mrs.Houston had some powerful things to say, she touched on so many topics that I was interested in from what is your “why” to her personal life and having a son with his illness, and struggles with alcohol at such a young age and yet she turned that into a positive working with other people just like his son to get the help that they need. When she was talking about what her “why” was it made me start to think about my own, I have heard people talk about their why and most of the time it’s money but she really made me think critically about how my “why” is for my future family. I am dedicated to do whatever I can do to help my future and the people who are close in it. I want to be the dependable one and be able to make a difference and it was really cool to learn that from her speech.

  • Madison Lance

    In Commissioner Houston’s speech, she discussed how so many events in life are unexpected. It is good to have a plan, but also to know that anything can happen. Part of being a leader is being open minded and always willing to strive through the good and bad times. I believe everyone has the capability to step up as a leader if they are willing to.

  • Matthew Ecton

    I found Commissioner Taylor’s discussion on the topic of scars very impactful. She had one statement in particular that stood out to me: “My scars made me who I am”. I believe that we are so inclined to “show the best, hide the rest”. We tend to focus only on our successes and ignore our failures. However, we often forget that it our more our failures that make us into who we are, not our successes. Commissioner Taylor provided us with a valuable reminder to embrace our scars. Instead of being ashamed of how we’ve failed or been hurt, we can take comfort in knowing that God uses those events to mold us into the men and women he created us to be.