Alyssa Cheslek was led by those before her into aspirations of leadership


Alyssa Cheslek

Alyssa Cheslek will be graduating this year with hopes of continuing on her path of leadership.

Going into her freshman year and first time golfing ever, senior Alyssa Cheslek wouldn’t have expected to become a team captain a few years later. 

Since the varsity golf team is limited in size and close-knit, Alyssa found her leadership position to be rather easy compared to how it could’ve been.

“One of the most fun things about the golf team is [that] it’s really small,” Alyssa said. “So I was leading a group of people who I would consider friends. Being a co-leader with [senior] Bella [Wiseley] was really useful. I think it was nice because rather than taking an approach where I was instructing people or telling them what they needed to do better, the captain was in charge of uniting the team and making sure everyone felt welcome. I ended up doing things like making snack bags for everyone on tournament days. I was taking on less of a directing role and more of a leadership role, as in uniting the group. I think we often don’t focus on that aspect of leadership when we talk about it in this school or this classroom; we’re told what to do rather than us working together towards a common goal.”

Throughout her life, Alyssa has grown to be a natural leader, whether from a directing perspective or not. While she may not have expected to receive these leadership roles, she could not be more grateful. She’s been watching those around her lead, and she credits some of her leadership skills to one person in particular: her dad. 

“My dad is probably the biggest [inspiration] for me, [leadership wise],” Alyssa said. “He has been a really big part of my life; we have a very good relationship. He is actually a huge leader in his companies. He’s taught me a lot about leadership in that way. For example, he’s working with Johnson & Johnson right now producing the COVID-19 vaccine. He’s the vice president of engineering there, so he has quite a big position. With him working from home, I’ve been able to actually see what it takes to lead a team that big and to work on a project like that. That’s one aspect [of how he’s helped me], and just in his everyday life, he shows me that it’s more important to sometimes be with everyone else, rather than being right, even if you know that it might not be the most productive thing to go in the way the group is going. Working against them rather than with them is going to hurt you more than help you.”

I think we often don’t focus on that aspect of leadership when we talk about it in this school or this classroom; we’re told what to do rather than us working together towards a common goal.

— Alyssa Cheslek

Alyssa’s relationship with her father is not only limited to the bond of leadership they share. He is a key part of her success in a variety of fields. 

The relationship they have leads Alyssa to feel as accomplished as she can be, even if it seems as though having him as a successful role might put pressure on her.

“I think [our relationship] helps me with confidence,” Alyssa said. “He definitely takes on a more hands-off relationship, like he doesn’t direct me at all; he kind of just lets me do what I want to do. So throughout high school, I haven’t been told that I need to succeed in certain ways, and I haven’t been pressured. I know my success is my own. It’s helped me with a lot of my confidence going into college applications, with writing my essays, with preparing for my auditions [for playing the flute at college], with doing any of that kind of stuff where you have a lot of pressure on you. I just feel confident enough in myself because of his coaching.”

Since Alyssa got to see the finer details of leadership once her dad started working from home, it’s no surprise that leadership has become a more prominent theme in her life since then. 

Even though her dad’s role in her love for leadership is highly important to her success, Alyssa has also learned from other leaders in the flute section, crew, and golf.

“[I started to see leadership more in my life] probably entering high school, but mostly this year is the first year I’ve really noticed it,” Alyssa said. “I think it starts to come in junior year, but I think freshmen and sophomore year, when you’re an underclassman, you’re going to get to watch other people and learn from them. Then, entering those years where you’re an upperclassman, you do take on more of a leader [role], and you will notice it where you’re more confident and you finally know what you’re doing. I didn’t rush into it, and I’m really glad that I got to learn first from the people above me and then kind of step into their shoes.”

Due to Alyssa’s observation of her dad in a leadership role and her observation of former upperclassmen’s leadership over the years, it’s no surprise she hopes to follow in their footsteps from high school into adult life.

After high school, she hopes to get a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and possibly a minor, or another master’s degree, in business, with the aspiration to work with companies like NASA in the future. It doesn’t follow her dad’s career path exactly, but she hopes it will follow along with the coaching he’s given her throughout her life, and she also hopes she can be an inspiration for younger people that have seen her lead. 

“One of my biggest things is that I would hope that my career would take me to a place where instead of just working on projects and stuff, [I will be] helping and working with a team towards a common goal and leading a team,” Alyssa said. “That’s really my dream for the future.”