For all the people in this nation who may be named Thomas White, there is only one Thomas (or "Tom") White who has been officially deemed the nation's young future business leader. This past July at the National Leadership Conference in Long Beach, California, White was awarded the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) most prestigious national award, "Future Business Leader."
From Floral Park, New York, White was New York State's FBLA 1999-2000 president and served as state parliamentarian the preceding year. "He is an outstanding young man and we were thrilled when he was recognized at the NLC with the first place award," said Anita Halstead, executive secretary/treasurer at New York State's FBLA.
A long, circuitous road awaits any contender for this prestigious national award. First an individual has to pass his or her state's FBLA exams. Normally, the first place winner is sent on to compete in the FBLA national conference. In White's case he didn't place No. 1 in New York State's competition but placed second. His state's first place winner was the organization's treasurer and one of the rules for the "Future Business Leader" is that national officers cannot compete. So this catapulted White as the candidate for the national award.
White then had to endure numerous interviews. The panel of interviewers asked him questions about current events in business and general questions about leadership. Some candidates prepare for these interviews, but White thinks it is detrimental.
"I think the worst thing you can do to a person is to tell he or she to prepare for an interview. You end up sounding phony in interviews if you really over prepare," White said. "If I had to give someone advice on how to interview I'd tell that person to not over prepare, just relax, and think of the interview as a conversation." Together his interviews and exam score positioned him at first place, hence the "Future Business Leader."
In early September, White set out for Hanover, New Hampshire, to join the elite freshman class at Dartmouth College. White anticipates his year first at college to be filled with three things: lots of work, meeting a diverse group of people, and experiencing different food.
Hard work is something White knows well. Not only is he an intellectual entrepreneur for developing the parliamentary procedure at his high school, but also a young man who offers reflection on personal success. "Generally, I think I used to be a more introverted person, but I've developed a lot of confidence so I'm more extroverted now," he said.
It is with this confidence that White looks straight-ahead. He is interested in business and politics and tentatively plans to attend law school after his undergraduate years. For the immediate future he looks forward to studying subjects like sociology, psychology, artificial intelligence, environmental law, Native American literature, and ethical theory, which are subjects he never had the opportunity to study in high school.
"I'm looking forward to broaden my experiences by learning from people who are experts," he said. "But as a freshman we're to study general subjects, then we'll go onto specific subjects." White knows he has about two years to decide what specific subject he wants to focus on, but for now he is looking at a degree in government. By the time his decision is made the nation's economy will be in a different place and so will the leadership of this country.
For White, leadership is multifaceted. "Leadership is a broad term. You can be a leader by title, like the president, and you can be a leader by showing others the responsible way. The best leaders are all-around talented people; people can look towards this leader as an example of how to achieve goals."
As an active member of FBLA during his four years in high school, White not only exhibited leadership but he also learned the importance of business education. "Business education skills are helpful in everyone's life. You need to know how to solve problems. You need to know how to purchase a car to managing a multinational corporation. Overall, it teaches you to be more of an organized and efficient person."
At this point in his college career, he is utilizing those organizational skills. "Right now, I'm just trying to be neat. It's difficult, but we'll see," White said very honestly. The personal success system seems to be working well for White.
By TRICIA R. LOUVAR
Tom White's resumé