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Student leads by listening and sharing knowledge

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | January 13, 2023 12:00 AM

Glacier High School senior Selah Conklin is a “dedicated, positive and hardworking” student, one of few, science teacher Sarah Conner has met in her teaching experience.

“She brings a positive, workhorse spirit and thirst for learning to the classroom that few students possess,” Conner said, noting Conklin’s willingness to share that love of learning with her peers.

“Selah holds steadfast in encouraging others in class. Her confident spirit makes her a wonderful student,” Conner said in her letter nominating her for the Winslow Nichols Leadership Award.

The award recognizes the academic achievement and community involvement of high school students who contribute to improving the lives of others. The award is sponsored by Logan Health in collaboration with the Daily Inter Lake.

Although Conklin has many achievements to be proud of, she is humble when talking about her accomplishments. The classroom is where her studious nature shines through “perceptive and gifted discussions to the topic at hand,” Conner described in the letter.

Conner taught Conklin in biology, botany and intro to biotechnology classes, the latter being a dual enrollment class through Flathead Valley Community College.

“She is responsible and challenges herself daily. As a scientist, she understood the need to improve. She asked for and received feedback well and became one of the strongest methodical thinkers in her class,” Conner said.

Conklin plans to continue her science studies in college by majoring in biochemistry. For now, she is preparing for a career in the lab by interning twice a week for Montana State University Ag Research Center as part of a new internship program offered at her school. The internship has focused on collecting soil samples to test in the lab.

“This is a guinea pig kind of spot because this is the first year they’re doing internships,” Conklin said, adding that several other Glacier students are interning elsewhere, such as at a physical therapy center, for example.

Getting this real-world experience has been quite enriching for Conklin.

“I’ve gotten to work with these people involved directly in science,” Conklin said. “I really haven’t gotten an opportunity to do that before. I’m also learning these sorts of things in the botany class that I’m also applying to the fieldwork. I didn’t plan it, but it’s really elevating that experience.”

WHEN IT comes to leadership, Conklin views communication skills, particularly listening skills, as traits of a good leader.

“There’s listening to just talk and make your next point and there’s listening to understand what the other person is trying to say,” said Conklin, who describes herself as an introvert. “So, I think when you listen to understand, you can more easily work with people or get a point across and it’s easier to understand where other people are coming from and better handle the situation.”

As a leader, Conklin said she’s “always tried to be kind and a good communicator.”

“I really try to make sure that I understand how other people are,” she said pausing, “what they're trying to communicate, and incorporate that into any project we're doing or any event we're planning, that kind of thing.”

Serving as a freshman mentor has been a highlight of the different leadership roles she’s taken on.

“I think, being a freshman mentor is the leadership role I’m most proud of just because that’s sort of how I wanted to start doing leadership-type stuff,” Conklin said. “As a freshman, I had some really cool freshman mentors and I saw all the leadership stuff that everybody else was doing, so I was really inspired by that.”

Sometimes, it took others to see her leadership potential. This is how she became student council treasurer when a fellow council member asked her to join the team. She said working with such a large group of other student-leaders helped her grow as one. Conner said Conklin is eager to help out when needed or when others face challenges.

“Volunteering, I just don’t say no to the opportunity because I know that every opportunity can impact somebody and so I just want to be a part of that impact,” Conklin said.

She is also a member of Math Club and DECA, a program that “prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management,” according to deca.org. In 2019, she earned the DECA Emerging Diamond Award.

“I fully expect her to continue her education with a continued passion for teaching others and her determination for making a difference,” Conner concluded her nomination letter.

As part of the Winslow Nichols Leadership award, honorees choose a school club or activity to receive a $250 donation. She plans to donate the money to the high school DECA program. Her hope is that it can help defray travel costs to allow more students to attend competitions and conferences.

The Winslow Nichols Award, previously known as the Today’s Achiever’s, Tomorrow’s Leaders program, was renamed in memory of Nichols who received the award in February 2020 while a junior at Columbia Falls High School, after his death in a climbing accident on Mount Brown in Glacier National Park June 7, 2022.

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com.

Learn More

Winslow Nichols Award nomination criteria:

Eligibility: High school students in Flathead, Lake or Lincoln counties.

Academics: Students who value their education by exhibiting academic responsibility; preferably have a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Character: Students who display integrity, compassion, service and excellence.

Citizenship: Students who nurture healthy communities through community service, volunteerism or other contributions to their community and/or school.

Leadership: Students who take initiative and are role models for others.

Forms are available at www.logan.org/tomorrowsleaders

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