06/18/2012 08:06 am ET Updated Aug 18, 2012

Diversified American Leadership

This editorial answers the question, "What is the American Experience?" It is part of a series from the junior AP Language and Composition classes at Oakton High School in Northern Virginia, and was selected by a panel of student judges for publication on HuffPost Teen.

America: the land of freedom and opportunity. America: from Atlantic to Pacific, Canada to Mexico. America: from pre-revolution until present day. When our country acquires great superiors, we become nearly unstoppable. A successful leader is someone who guides or directs. A leader expresses the skills of focus, integrity, dedication and assertiveness. Therefore, the American experience is leadership.

From day one, America has moved forward in the hands of great leaders, one of the earliest being George Washington.

Washington embodies great leadership traits such as being motivated and well-rounded. Contemplating the American Revolution, Washington realized early that the best strategy was to harass the British. He took the fight into his own hands, courageously forcing the surrender of British General Cornwallis. Though Washington longed to retire, he became a critical member of the Constitutional Convention. As any true leader, he put his country before himself.

As the first president of the United States, he had integrity, intelligence and confidence. He modestly decided to retire after two strong terms in office. His accomplishments during his presidency include establishing the executive and judicial branches of the federal government and overseeing the ratification of the Bill of Rights.

His leadership guaranteed the survival of the United States as a powerful and independent nation and set the standard for future presidents. His leadership helped to bring America to its course of change, to better itself in the near and far future. His leadership helped in setting our definition of the American experience.

A persistent example of influence is Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She was a leading figure of the early women's rights movement. During the industrial revolution, beginning in the early 1800s, men expected women to be homemakers and take care of children, yet women demanded greater rights. Stanton joined the movement in which her establishment of the first organized women's rights and suffrage movements in the United States was inspiring and unprejudiced.
Stanton attained many triumphs during her efforts to spark change. With strong-willed passion, she was president of the National American Women Suffrage Association for 20 years. Stanton held the Seneca Falls Convention in July 1848 in dedicated collaboration with Lucretia Mott. These women were persuasive in their leadership roles, taking the lead in proposing that women gain suffrage.

Stanton was able and willing to speak out for her beliefs. Her empowering leadership to help with the women's suffrage movement continued until her death in 1902 and brought American women into their own state of freedom. Stanton's efforts began the movement to implement the 19th Amendment -- unfortunately, she died almost 18 years before the rewards were bestowed. She assists in characterizing the American experience as leadership through her recognized aspirations.

The most recent face of leadership is the inspiring Michelle Obama. She is the wife of our 44th president and our first African-American first lady.

Michelle Obama has been supportive of her husband in his endeavors to guide this country, while being a mother of two and creating her own form of change throughout America. By taking an active role in this country, the first lady is consistently supporting military families, helping working women balance career and family, and encouraging national service. The first lady is also working towards bettering America's leaders of tomorrow, today. She created the program "Let's Move" to take on what calls "one of the most serious threats" to America's future: childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama is directly instigating change, both within schools and by suggesting that parents change their diet and exercise habits to better their own children's lives.

Michelle Obama realizes that a persuasive figure must advance America's future towards change in order to better and lengthen the next generation's lives. By using her authority, integrity and leadership skills, Michelle Obama is promoting change for America to improve its well-being. Her courage as a superior proved her influence on the U.S. as part of the American experience.
Fortunately, the American experience is leadership, because any citizen can be a successful leader, whether it is solely in their own community or if it is affecting thousands of people. For instance, a doctor controls a surgical procedure and directs the nurses, saving numerous lives. Though each operation is insignificant to millions, the doctor's leadership is necessary to save the patient's life.

Without these essential leaders, America would not be at its current state. Leadership is George Washington, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Michelle Obama. Leadership is being courageous, inspiring, passionate and persuasive. Leadership is the American experience.