Hana Le (Ruston High School ‘21) is a rising senior from Ruston, Louisiana. As a four-year member of one of the largest business student organizations in the world, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Hana has experienced both the highs and lows of student leadership and the profound impact of stepping up. She currently serves as the FBLA National Secretary and the Louisiana FBLA State President.
My FBLA Story:
If you had told me back in middle school --or even freshman year-- that I would find a community or a purpose through FBLA, much less be a state or national officer, I would have laughed. I joined on my first day of high school because some upperclassmen told me it’d be worth doing for college applications. But I stayed because FBLA was worth doing for both my personal growth and the experiences it provided. In the past few years, FBLA has a limitless world of opportunity that I will never be able to repay. I had the honor of being elected as the Louisiana FBLA State Secretary my sophomore year and, from there, everything seemed to fall in place. FBLA wasn’t just about collecting trophies and scholarships anymore. Instead, it became a way for me to share my ideas, be the leader I never knew I could be, and truly make a difference for others. I now serve as the Louisiana FBLA State President and the FBLA National Secretary. Going into my final year in this organization, I can only hope to create more equitable opportunities so that every member has the chance to write their own life-changing FBLA story.
The Opportunity to Turn Adversities into Strengths:
I come from a state that isn’t particularly strong when it comes to FBLA. I ran into issues as a member with high conference costs and a lack of competitive event resources. As an officer, my teams and I faced low membership engagement and friction between traditional methods and more modern ideas. During the 2020 FBLA National Officer Election, my main concerns going into the process were that my opponents came from states and cities that seemed to be more affluent than where I lived and that, with the in-person National Leadership Conference cancelled, campaigning virtually would be unprecedented, and thus unpredictable. However, the biggest challenge I faced was not having the confidence in myself to take initiative. For a good part of my first term as a state officer, I allowed myself to fall into a mindset where I blamed the shortcomings of my initial efforts on outside factors when, instead, I could have been constantly thinking about how to better my ideas. Tackling the obstacles I faced in FBLA eventually led me to understand the root obstacle I had in myself, and this realization has made all the difference in both my life and in my FBLA journey. Instead of complaining about the lack of competitive event resources, I started a social media initiative, called Competitive Insight, where members can read, share, and ask for advice from past state and national champions. Instead of blindly proposing the same plan over and over again to combat low membership engagement in my local and state chapters, I spent weeks sending out surveys and collecting opinions to better understand how to combat the issue. And, instead of looking at National Office as something I’d never be able to accomplish, I spent every free minute during quarantine learning the ins and outs of social media marketing and perfecting my platform. I don’t consider my FBLA experience special in any way, but do I hope that my journey gives confidence to others who feel like they’re at a disadvantage. The only thing stopping you from pushing those boundaries is yourself. And, if you can’t do it by yourself, there is an amazing FBLA community that is wholeheartedly ready to help you.
Advice for those Considering Running for National Office:
My advice to any member considering a National --or even State-- Office Candidacy, is to have a good support system, to know what you’re getting in to and why you’re getting into it, and to not care too much about outside opinions. Teenage politics can get very messy very fast, and, if you don’t ground yourself, it’s extremely easy to get swept up in the drama. It’s important to remember why you’re running for office and to never lose focus or confidence in yourself.
My biggest piece of advice is actually the advice I received from a past national officer: ‘running for office is a win-win situation. If you win the election, that’s great. If you lose the election, it will still be a phenomenal learning experience. Either way, there is still something to gain.’ Embracing this advice was the best thing to happen to my candidacy because it pushed me to invest in the process and the experience, rather than the outcome.
Most Valuable Thing Learned:
In general: Taking initiative is definitely the most valuable thing I’ve learned from my experience in FBLA. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom I know will end up being lifelong friends, because FBLA gave me the opportunity to send the first introduction and I have gained so many opportunities and experiences because FBLA gave me the chance to step up by myself. I am forever thankful to this organization for helping me learn how to not doubt myself and for pushing me to push myself to be a better leader when I didn’t think I could be.
From my national candidate experience specifically: The basic answer would be confidence. However, while I treasure the personal development that I went through during the process, understanding the importance of empathy, especially to those who don’t know their voices have been heard, is the most valuable takeaway from my National Candidacy. As cliche as it sounds, listening to members and the challenges they faced in their chapters while developing my platform helped me stay grounded in the reason why I ran, which was to create a more equitable, impactful FBLA experience for everyone. I had never really seen myself as a role model before, so knowing that my candidacy stood for more than just myself was truly eye-opening.
Advice for Aspiring Student Leaders:
Something I’ve found to be critically important over the years is to always try and see the bigger picture. It’s really easy to get bogged down over tiny details, but, at the end of the day, if you spend all your time trying to make everything perfect, you will never get anything done. This pertains to starting a project, to opening a chapter, to running a campaign, and to anything else that requires teamwork or any sort of leadership. It’s okay to not have all the answers all the time and it’s okay to be scared to ask for help. Just know that the worst thing that can happen is that you get rejected or left on read. Even then, there is still a world of opportunity out there for you.
You can contact Hana through her email: firstname.lastname@example.org or through her socials (@hana.vle on Instagram). This article was written as part of the Student Alliance’s Student Stories. You may find more information about the various articles on our websitewww.thestudentalliance.org and Instagram page @thestudentalliance. As always, thanks for reading!