GV alumnus lectures on leadership

Ellie Phillips

Students filled the Pere Marquette room of Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof Center on Monday for the bi-annual Venderbush Leadership Lecture featuring GVSU alumnus Selma Tucker.

As part of his presentation, Tucker talked about his four tenants of leadership: vulnerability, growth, listening and decision-making.

“Part of being a leader is being able to say ‘I don’t know,’ and ask for help,” he said. “Leadership is probably more about listening than talking.”

Tucker holds three degrees, all of which he earned from GVSU: a bacherlor’s in public administration with a concentration in economic development, a second bachelor’s in political science, and a master’s in public management.

“Grand Valley was a really big part of my own development,” he said. “Despite its size, there are opportunities for young people all over the place at GVSU.”

Tucker grew up in Buchanan, Mich., before coming to GVSU. He said that as an openly gay student, not many people “got him” there, and attending GVSU helped him discover people who did.

“I probably wouldn’t have gone to school if I hadn’t been gay,” he said. “I needed to be somewhere else. You need certain things in life. You need a family; you need people in your life who get you.”

Tucker left the attending students with a piece of advice.

“Even in a place like Michigan, you can do well,” he said. “There are always people willing to pay you if they want you to show up in their office every day. Have a compelling story as to why you want to do what you want to do.”

Tucker currently serves as director of marketing and communications at Public Sector Consultants.

Since completing his undergraduate degree in 2009, he has also worked for two multimillion-dollar agencies and been involved with public service programs for the city of Grand Rapids. Tucker has also served as an administrator and regional coordinator for Grand Rapids’ Better Buildings program.

Apart from hearing Tucker speak, the audience at the Venderbush event recognized student leaders. The lecture is an event designed to honor Kenneth R. Venderbush, who came to GVSU in 1969.

Venderbush served as an associate professor and acting dean of the William James College, as well as the vice president for Student Affairs until 1973. He was a strong advocate of using participation in student leadership as a learning tool.

The event also involved welcoming 90 new members into Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and the awarding of the Immediate Impact Award, which went to Josh Theil, graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life.

The Immediate Impact Award is given to an individual who has improved a student organization through their time, effort and abilities, and it recognizes people who work hard to make a difference and show leadership qualities in their organization. Recipients of the award must have made an impact for the greater good on campus and in the community.

Other nominees for the award were Katelyn Bales and Kelsey Rice of Alternative Breaks, as well as Jorden Simmonds from Student Senate.