Cumulative Reflection

"Dulf's participation and attitude in Illinois Leadership Center programming is nothing short of outstanding. Dulf's commitment to lead genuinely, understand himself, and explore many of the competencies we teach at the Illinois Leadership Center is something all individuals should strive to achieve."

- Evan C. Lorenz, Illinois Leadership Center Assistant Director

Click on each logo to display Competencies


My experience with the Leadership Certification Program has significantly contributed to my growth in self-management. Throughout this program, I have honed my ability to set and achieve goals, having decided on my major, getting an internship, doing research, studying abroad, and earning even more prestigious scholarships. I initially chose this competency because I sometimes struggled with maintaining motivation, especially when starting new projects. Through the program, I've learned the value of self-discipline and how to effectively balance my personal and professional pursuits. This experience has equipped me with practical skills in time management, goal-setting, and reflection. I now dedicate time each night and each week to plan and set goals, ensuring a structured and productive schedule. The program has reignited my drive and helped me achieve goals sooner than I anticipated.

Relationship Management

The program significantly contributed to my growth in the relationship-management. As someone who navigates between different groups, the program's focus on empathetic leadership and respect underscored the importance of relationship-building. It reinforced my belief in the value of connecting with diverse communities. The experience refined my definition of leadership, emphasizing empathy, respect, and earned authority. By practicing these principles, I've enhanced my ability to manage and balance relationships effectively. This, in turn, has enabled me to initiate discussions with key leaders, explore opportunities for increased involvement, and prioritize relationship-building within various friend groups. The program provided practical skills in fostering meaningful collaborations and personal growth.

Change Management

My journey in the Illinois Leadership Certificate program allowed me to expand my understanding of change management. Choosing this competency was driven by my commitment to enhancing my ability to facilitate effective transitions, influenced by past challenges when transitioning the administration of a department I founded. Through this program, I learned practical skills to initiate and oversee change. As Assistant Project Director at Volunteering Illini, I initiated new community service initiatives, and as a fellow at the Office of Civic Life and Project Manager at Ameren Energy, I adapted administrative methods and established meaningful internal/external connections. This experience equipped me with the skills to orchestrate successful transitions and foster meaningful change in diverse contexts.


Within the Illinois Leadership Certificate, my focus on the sustainability competency has been a journey of personal growth. I chose this competency to expand my knowledge and awareness of sustainability's role in daily life. Through research and experiences, I've gained insights into sustainability's integration within leadership. Applying this knowledge to my roles now in Civic Life and Ameren, I aim to understand how my actions contribute to the broader community and apply sustainability principles effectively to make for more meaningful and enduring projects. This experience has broadened my perspective and practical knowledge, enhancing my contribution to sustainable practices and leadership within my community.

A Transformative Journey Through the Leadership Certification Program

My experience with the Leadership Certification Program has been a transformative and enlightening experience. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to interact with staff and students who are equally, if not more eager to learn and teach leadership, whether that be through the Donaldson Leadership Retreat, LeaderShape, the i-Programs, and/or my LEAD 260 course. I am forever grateful to have been given these opportunities as a freshman, not only having been able to develop these core competencies so early on but also being exposed to a vast network of people from all walks of life, most of whom I still keep in touch with closely.

Fostering Authentic Leadership Through Experiences and Connections

I credit my development as a leader through this program primarily to the connections I have made and the people I have fellowshipped with. I often take a more authentic and servant-based approach to all things leadership, and to me, that means being able to put myself out in the world and plant myself in different communities, friend groups, cultures, schools of thought, and so forth. Being able to apply what I have learned in my workshops and classes to the real world immediately has given me even more of an appreciation for application-based learning; the power of leading through learning.

Defining Leadership: A Personal Evolution

My definition of leadership centers on internal reflection and personal awareness. I emphasized that being able to understand yourself; the way you think and feel; is essential in being able to understand others. Empathy is pivotal, as it enables us to treat others as we wish to be treated, fostering a more humane leadership approach. This experience allowed me to put my philosophy to the test, providing insights into commanding a room through earned authority, not imposition. It reinforced the vital role of respect for both leaders and followers, emphasizing leadership as a service rather than a mere exercise of authority. This experience has refined my definition of leadership, highlighting the importance of empathy, respect, and earned authority, ultimately enhancing my understanding of effective leadership.

Symbolic Reflection: 'Everything, Everywhere, All At Once'

A particular movie I would choose to symbolize my Leadership Certificate journey is "Everything, Everywhere, All At Once". In the film, the protagonist, played by Michelle Yeoh, initially embodies a distant and stagnant form of leadership, akin to running her laundromat while grappling with her identity as a mother. As the story unfolds, she undergoes a series of existential crises and experiences across multiple universes, ultimately evolving into a more grounded and appreciative version of herself. Similarly, my Leadership Certificate experience has been a transformative journey, coming from a more old-fashioned and authoritative sense of leadership to a more down-to-earth and human one. It has allowed me to connect with a diverse community of staff and students, exposing me to a wide range of leadership perspectives, and shaping my definition of leadership as a service that emphasizes empathy, respect, and earned authority.

Special Acknowledgment

Cecilia Vaughn-Guy, a fourth-year Ph.D. student specializing in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, has dual concentrations in Human Resource Development and Diversity and Equity in Education. She was selected as a 2023 Women's Congressional Policy Institute Fellow and commenced her fellowship in congressional offices on Capitol Hill in January 2023. 

Before embarking on her doctoral journey, Cecilia gained valuable experience as an occupational therapist in diverse clinical, hospital-based, and academic settings. Her research interests encompass several critical areas, including amplifying the voices of frontline healthcare workers, reimagining equitable and sustainable organizational hierarchies, culturally responsive evaluation, and fostering organizational change through culture.

It was Cecilia who first urged me to take up the Leadership Certification Program as soon as possible, specifically, during the Illinois Scholars Program the summer going into Freshman Year.

To Cecilia: Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

- Philippians 2:3–4