Tukwut member shares insight on what it takes to be a campus leader


Ryan Van Stralen

Senior Mekala Leuhmunn found her place in the TLC here on cam- pus.

As a peer leader and student specialist, Mekala Lehmunn certainly has her hands full. But, for her, maintaining the balance between work, volunteering and academics is worth it. She said, “It can be challenging, but the good thing is … I got out of my comfort zone, and that just really prepares you for being out there in the world. ”

Lehmunn works as a student specialist for the campus and helps to coordinate events by inputting attendance and emailing presenters.

Alongside her job and classes, she is polishing her skills as a peer leader for the Tukwut Leadership Circle, where she specializes in leading workshops to enrich other students’ experiences on campus. These workshops, as Lehmunn mentions, are held to encourage students to be leaders themselves. According to Lehmunn, they provide students real-world skills, “You get to network with students from a variety of majors and faculty all around campus … You also get help writing resumes and interviewing. Our workshops always focus on that. ”

Lehmunn finds these workshops rewarding and shared that volunteering as a peer leader has also helped her as a student herself, “The intangible benefits, at least for me, is really gaining self-confidence to be able to give presentations and to facilitate student civic engagement.”

When Lehmunn first enrolled at CSU San Marcos, she wasn’t always familiar with what the campus has to offer for student socialization. Lehmunn recalled her freshman year before dedicating her time as a peer leader, “… I was just new to the campus and I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted to do.”

This uncertainty all changed when the opportunity in becoming a peer leader was made known to her in a GEL course, “The program coordinator Shannon Nolan, Dr. Nolan, came to our class herself and talked to us about the Tukwut Leadership Circle … and that inspired me to complete the program myself.”

The program that Lehmunn mentions is a certificate program that any student can participate in. According to Lehmunn, this program consists of working with peer leaders in resume building and visiting campus events to become familiar with the school services. The final step is an interview in which students can self-reflect on their experiences and practice for real job applications.

A student can complete this program within a semester or within one year. After completing this program, a student can then apply to be a peer leader themselves.

Lehmunn completed this program to become the peer leader she is today and shared that the path into becoming a peer leader was worth the dedication. she shared that the journey aided in self-growth, “It definitely helped me realize that I want to be a leader in whatever I do and that I’m more comfortable taking on leadership positions.”

Lehmunn stated as a literature and writing studies major, she knew she wanted to make a positive impact with her writing and by being a peer leader she was able to achieve that, “So as part of the TLC, we’re very connected with the Empower Mural Project. It’s an opportunity for CSUSM students to paint really powerful and healing murals with adults with developmental disabilities … One of my internships is helping the founder facilitate these murals … I’ll be helping at the heart of mural project. Writing articles, promoting their events …” It was through Tukwut Leadership Circle that she learned her passion for writing can help others.

“ I would have never applied for the internship if it wasn’t for the TLC … if I had never participated in it. I would have never … discovered my passion for helping people heal through art …” said Lehmunn.

Overall, she shared that being a leader is about more than just being in charge. It’s as simple as taking charge of yourself and the direction that you want to go in life. The path to becoming a leader on campus is one that Lehmunn strongly recommends for all students, “You can lead in any area of your life … you don’t even have to be in charge of anyone to be a leader. And that I think just prepares students to just go out into the world.”