Salvatore Alu Jr. Is a 17 year-old student from De Smet Jesuit High School and Boy Scouts’ member. He stands out among many of his peers because of his commitment with serving the community and his outstanding leadership abilities. Red Latina spoke with him about how he dedicates his life to service and fulfillment of his potential.
1. What do you dedicate your life to? (what’s important activities in and outside of school contribute to your being a leader?)
To start off, my idea of leadership is based off the idea of leadership by inspiration and motivation rather than intimidation and domination. It is not the idea of being the guy with the loudest mouth or the guy who knows how to give orders. Rather the true leaders are those who are willing to get down in the mud with their followers and partners and work for and with others to accomplish a goal.
I run cross country and while cross country is an individual sport, it is also a team sport. For those who don’t know points are based off of the places of the top 5 runners of a team added together. Say the top five places for a team are 1st 3rd, 5th, 8th, and 16th. You get a team score of 32 points. The team with the lowest score wins, similar to golf. But with cross country, in order to get a better score, you have to train with your teammates not just in running, but in eating, sleeping and doing the little things to get better every day.
When one teammate is down one day the other members in the running group work more together to have a successful day of staying on pace. Constant motivation is seen between the running group and the bigger connection of the entire team. That is because success in the sport it is all about taking care of the little things of your body and helping others achieve their goals as well as your own goals. On my cross country and track teams, I have been elected as team captain 3 seasons in a row and received two leadership awards in the sport.
Another activity that I am involved in is Boy Scouts, which in which I have been elected in multiple leadership positions, including the highest scouting position as the Senior Parrol Leader of the Troop (who runs and plans meetings, outings and overall activity with a council of other scouts), and also achieved the highest rank of Boy Scouts: the Eagle Scout rank. Within Boy Scouts, I was elected as the Troop 456 Sea Base High Adventure Crew Leader. As Crew Leader, I helped plan and run events as well as making sure our crew was ready for events throughout the high adventure. On this high adventure, we went scuba diving in the Florida Keys. Within the world of Boy Scouts, I was a part of the Staff for the 2015 NYLT (National Youth Leadership Training). We trained Boy Scout youth through ethics of Boy Scouts. We went through leadership retreats and taught skills through presentations, challenges, and discussions in order to better leadership skills for the next generation of leaders within the Boy Scout world.
I am also in Nation Honors Society in which certain individuals who best exemplify academic achievement as well as leadership in the class are elected into this group who help plan and run service events dedicated to giving back to the De Smet community.
I am also the co-president of the Engineering club at my school. This club competes in different competitions involving in the subject of engineering and visiting engineering sites. One of the major
competitions is the Boeing Glider Competition in which a team must design and build a plane based off one of three divisions.
At my school, I am involved in the Compañeros Program in which a senior is chosen to act as senior advisor for the incoming freshman at my high school: De Smet Jesuit High School. These seniors sacrifice their senior homeroom to be in a homeroom with incoming freshmen, as they teach them the ropes, aid them into high school, and go on retreats with the freshmen.
I have also have been apart of the leading staff for every class’ retreat. I led the Freshmen Oddyssey retreat. On this retreat, I assisted in leading groups of Freshmen through teamwork activities and ice-breakers in the summer before their Freshmen year of high school in order to gain a better sense of brotherhood and adapt to the new high school experience for these Freshmen.
I led the El Camino Freshmen retreat. On this retreat, I assisted in leading groups of Freshmen through small-group meetings and presentations in order to gain a better sense of brotherhood in create better relationships as the Freshmen adapt to high school life.
I led the Sophomore Ascent Retreat. On this retreat, I assisted in leading groups of Sophomores through teamwork activities as well as small-group meetings in order to gain a better sense of brotherhood and closer connection to religious faith
I led De Smet’s 103rd Kairos Retreat. Kairos is a religious retreat led by each individual Catholic High School in the St. Louis area, as well as at Catholic high schools throughout the country. I led groups of high school juniors in order to help the participants contemplate their relationship with God, discover their own identity and build stronger bonds with their peers on a much deeper experience than previous retreats.
2. Where did your family come from? (Who immigrated and specifically what city?)
Both sides of my family immigrated from the city of Palermo which is located in Sicily, Italy. My great grandparents along migrated with my grandparents (at adolescent ages) immigrated to the city of St. Louis, where my generation of the family resides today.
3. What are you studying and where? (Mention any recognition that you have received as a student, leader, or anything where you have shown above average level of dedication and commitment.
I will be continuing my education at the University of Kansas to study in the field of Electrical Engineering. Academic awards that I have received include: First Honors (to have a 3.5 GPA or higher) every semester, National Honors Society, and Scholar Athlete Award (to have a 3.0 GPA while participating in a sport) every season.
4. What are the principle problems of the United States? Do you have any ideas on how to resolve them?
Principle problems of the United States include the lack of servant leaders in the United States. In a utopia world, I would see people working together to overcome differences together as they work for and with others. By empowering others to be leaders rather than controlling the situation, we create more leaders rather than just followers. Productivity would increase, and the world could be a better place overall.
5. An ideal world, how would it look?
I would see servant leaders who are willing to overcome differences and problems to get down in the mud with his followers and partners and work for and with others no matter what government system he/she lives in or background he/she comes from.
6. What does happiness mean to you?
Quaker activist and writer, Parker Palmer, explains that the path of realizing and seeking one’s vocation becomes clear. In order to realizing true vocation, one must ultimately answer the question of “Who am I?” The vocation is finally achieved when the person has achieved true vocation; that is finding a vocation that “joins self and service…the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need”. (Palmer 3). It is this notion of finding your true level of fulfillment that not only serves oneself concerning accomplishing a life goal but also contributes to helping the worldly need of service. My level of fulfillment comes from the idea of fulfilling my potential in all means of hard work that I can being school, sports, extra-circular etc. My goals in life include starting a family that I can support and graduating from college with a degree in engineering. My happiness will presumably derive from achieving this satisfaction and achievement with the hope that I can always learn new ways to better myself and those around me.