What if David Bowie Were a Student Leader?
Trill or Not Trill?


I was sitting home watching a David Bowie Tribute show, and was once again reminded of how much of an icon he was. His impact on popular culture reminds me of the impact a dynamic young person could have on a college campus. If David Bowie were a college student, it’s possible he’d be a few things. Perhaps as a music major, he would be a star yet misunderstood pupil. Maybe he would be constantly turning up but always maintained a solid gpa. With that said, one thing I’m confident about is that, at least on paper and film, David Bowie would have made an incredible student leader. He possessed so many of the key qualities that we seek and cultivate when working with dynamic student leaders.

Leaving your Mark
The ability to influence others is one of those key components. Can that individual david-bowie-lady-gagamove the people through their words and actions? Can they be felt whether in the room or not? Will variations of their flavor reach audiences near and far? Bowie did that. From his musical influence to his fashion sense, David Bowie reshaped popular culture. Just take a look at all the hip hop artists who’ve sampled his songs. His voice reached multiple generations without them even knowing it. From Madonna to Kanye West,from Lady Gaga to Rihanna, one can see Bowie. His stylings are drenched all over these game changing musicians.

Using Influence to influence
bowie brownLeaders don’t just create followers, they create other leaders. To successfully do that one must take lessons learned from mentors and peers and turn that into influential moments. That first year student’s energy can push you in the same way an advisor’s savvy advice can. Bowie represented a certain level of such behavior when discussing who he listened to and enjoyed. He constantly spoke on being influenced by the likes of James Brown and Little Richard. He’s openly stated how he’s been inspired by artists like Kendrick Lamar or Scott Walker. Don’t be afraid to be pushed by something new or different. Recognize greatness and feel comfortable in any skin. It’s not biting or stealing, it’s a diverse mindset.

Challenge the norm
David Bowie consistently pushed the envelope. Even when he wasn’t the first to dobowie and iman things, he rode waves that were unlike the cookie cutter versions. His sometimes androgynous look was challenged and he still rocked out. His interracial relationship with supermodel Iman, at the time still wasn’t the fully considered the norm, yet they consistently served. They were two immense celebrities who said love will supersede all no matter what detractors say. It didn’t matter what the critique was as long as the train of cultural challenge kept moving.

Not afraid to speak their mind.
A true student leader is willing to stand for those in need. They are willing to be the voice whether it’s for better food in the cafeteria or to challenge a raise in tuition. In this interview with MTV we are reminded of his Bowie’s voice and it’s impact on cultural dialogue. Be ready to ask the tough questions, as David Bowie did to this reporter.

At the end of the day I’m not sure what David Bowie would have really been in college. I do know that student leaders could learn a lot from him.
Ziggy Stardust was trill!ziggy startdust


jeff trill

Stay trill, folks.

MrJeffDess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is an author of 4 books of poetry, including his latest, Deconstructing Ratchet. With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt MrJeffDess continues to strive towards helping students reach their highest potential. For booking information, contact MrJeffDess at mrjeffdess@gmail.com