Meet student leader Michael Nishimura, president of the Water Treatment Team (WTT) and the Engineering and Computer Science Joint Council (ECSJC). With WTT, Michael facilitates meetings, lab testing, and coordinates fiscal responsibilities. In ECSJC, he manages operations of collaborative engineering projects along with his fellow student board officers. In between school and campus involvement, Michael also serves as DJ Mikey on KSSU.com live stream.
(Michael at the Water Treatment Award Ceremony; April, 2017)
Three words that describe you: Wild, Adaptive, and Universal
Tell us about your leadership journey: During the summer of 2015 I made a plan. I made this plan because I felt I was not meeting my potential. I was losing my aspirations. I wasn’t happy. I knew I needed to make changes. I made this plan to pursue more campus leadership involvement. I did this to gain connections and to be more qualified for an internship. I wanted a president role that I could dedicate my time in and demonstrate my leadership qualities. I saw that the project manager for Sacramento State’s Water Treatment Team was vacant, so I applied and acquired the role. Any club that has an unfilled leadership role is a good start to becoming a leader. You are placed in a position where you can only get better. People did not expect much of me and they didn’t really know me. For this reason, I remained motivated because I had something to prove. Dipping your toes in the water is also a great way to learn. A good first step is to be an active member. As a member, think of things that the club can improve on and what you can contribute to that direction. President or member, you have what it takes. You would be amazed at what events and projects you can create with the resources on campus. However, even when you plan great events there is a possibility that no one shows up. It’s happened to me, but I didn’t let it discourage me. If one person gets something out of an event, the event may have been worth it after all. In leadership, there is a lot of growth if you put the effort. Next fall when I graduate, I will have taken our water treatment team to two engineering competitions and have been part of the board of officers that put together the 2017 Engineering and Computer Science Exposition, an event hosting over 800 people! This plan, my plan, got me the internship I wanted. Overall, it improved the quality of my life as a student and as a person. Being a student leader has provided me a pathway to be successful. More importantly, it gave me an opportunity to bounce back.
What motivates and/or inspires you? I am motivated by the dream that one day I will be successful enough to make a significant change in the community. My leadership thrives on success and progress, and I enjoy moving forward in my life while helping others do the same. Simply put, I work on myself, so that I can effectively help others.
What does leadership mean to you? Leadership is a responsibility. Being a student leader means being accountable for the wellbeing of your entire organization. You must be willing to learn about your members, find ways to make them better, and maintain your team’s effort. To be a leader you must also have an objective and encouraging others to help you meet that objective. The objectives you set and the ability to reach them effectively, defines your leadership quality. For example, when the ECSJC had to fund the ECS Expo, we had other debts to pay the university that held us back from even accessing our ASI account. We strategized a plan; first we sat down with the department we owed money to and mapped out a payment plan. We were then released of suspension and able to access our accounts again. We sold sweatshirts to get extra capital and made sponsor packages to send out to local companies. We were able to pay our debts, raise enough funding to pay our event, and have extra for next year’s team.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Why and how did this person impact your life? My fearlessness to take on new challenges is inspired by my mom. When my mom found an opportunity to better herself and her family, she did it in a heartbeat and with conviction. My mom was never afraid of taking on challenges. She went back to college when I was in high school and completed her bachelor’s degree in continuing education. My mom taught me the strong characteristics of my leadership abilities. She never quit on herself and she never quit on her children. She instilled in me that things worth changing, are worth risking comfortability. I love and appreciate my mother for all that she has given me.
(Michael, his mom and brother; October, 2012)
How do you think your various life experiences have influenced your leadership journey? When I worked as a bartender for three years, I came across many types of people. Understanding the variations of people has allowed me to do well in our multicultural and multilingual society. There were times I was bluntly disrespected at work. I learned how important it was to manage emotions during these circumstances and carry on with the job. Leading the water treatment team, I was always tasked with finding communication styles that gave direction without being demanding. Sometimes this conflict held me back. I had officers leave my team because they felt their position was idle and unfulfilling. Their departure was as a good lesson for me. It taught me I cannot do everything by myself and that I cannot be afraid to tell my team what needs to be done. I was so focused on keeping everything under control, I failed to see the value of what others can contribute. My experiences taught me leadership starts with understanding and adjusting to make the best fit operation contingent to maximizing productivity and team morale.
If you could give one piece of advice to new Hornets, what would it be? Only you can develop yourself into being something extraordinary. You have to acknowledge where you are in your life and you have to want to make a change. It takes a plan and it takes shear will and determination to struggle through that plan. Never give up on what you truly want, whatever that is. Truth is, leadership starts with leading your own life and finding a path that you want to follow. Be confident and don’t give up on yourself. Life really is too short to not get out there and accomplish your dreams.
(Group picture of ECSJC officers, ECS Associate Dean, ECS Dean, and President Nelsen; March, 2017)