Nicole Burkhalter: An officer on duty

Scott Kordziel, Editor

   Nicole Burkhalter is a leader. Like any leader, she has many responsibilities, such as working for the community. Burkhalter is currently an active officer for the National Honors Society at Arvada West. For Burkhalter, leadership is not something that serves as a temporary stop in her high school career. She is passionate about collaborating with projects that benefit others, and she will be looking to help others well beyond her high school career. “I love making people happy and I love making a difference in the community,” says Burkhalter.

   Burkhalter’s job is certainly is certainly not easy; she has had to jump through a few hoops throughout the process. In her junior year, she gave a speech to all of the members of NHS, and then the members of the chapter voted her into the position. As an officer, Burkhalter is responsible for running community service group meetings for the NHS chapter. This means she is discussing the upcoming community service opportunities and important events in the chapter, such as the eggstravaganza that takes place in the spring. Burkhalter feels that her biggest challenge is “communicating my progress on projects to the other officers.” Yet, communication is very important to Burkhalter, because she says, “a true leader never works alone.”

  Furthermore, Burkhalter is an eclectic leader. She is a girl scout, a member of the National Technical Honor Society (at Warren Tech), and the vice president of Health Occupations Students of America. So how can she possibly manage all of this? Even though NHS is a group that is focus is academics, Burkhalter’s numerous leadership roles make it more challenging for her to keep up with her schoolwork. “The component to my academic achievement is time management. I have learned to prioritize and complete several tasks at once.”

   NHS is only for a select group of kids. It starts with the student’s academic performance. By achieving a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 or higher for a full year at Arvada West high school, a student is eligible to join the select group of students in the society through an application process. While NHS is an academic society that rewards a student for his or her academic performance, it also requires a lot of work, including at least twelve hours of community service each semester. While these are the responsibilities of the average member, Burkhalter strived to be more actively involved. “I became interested in becoming an NHS officer because I wanted a new challenge and I wanted a different way to strengthen my skills as a leader.”

   Burkhalter states, “It [NHS] gave me the confidence to talk in front of bigger groups of people and take feedback from people about what we did good and what we did bad to try to fix it and make it better the next time, which is definitely a strong quality for leaders to have, which is to be able to change things when things don’t go right.” Burkhalter demonstrated her public speaking skills in the fall semester of 2013, when she gave a presentation on the dangers of drunk driving to both juniors and seniors. Burkhalter adds, “The assembly I put together myself. I worked with state patrol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and the administration here. I told them what I wanted to do and how it was going to work out. I put together a script, that sort of stuff.”Burkhalter actually volunteered to give this presentation through girl scouts, not NHS. Burkhalter says girl scouts “prepared me to do things on my own.”

   This fall, she will be attending Regis University to study nursing, which is fitting since she is always striving to find new ways to help people. If Burkhalter pursues nursing, she will most likely start out working as a floor nurse. But, if she worked her way up to be a charge nurse, she would be able to manage the other nurses in the building. Burkhalter thinks she would like to be a charge nurse, and her experience through NHS would prepare her got that type of leadership position. For the moment, she continues to work towards those future aspirations by remaining active as an NHS officer, studying AP Biology, AP Statistics, and classes at Warren Tech. “I would never have been able to put our service project together without the help of other officers and the chapter, says Burkhalter… I have learned to work well with several different people and find their strengths within.”