When asked about leadership and what being a leader means to him, Williamstown High School senior Naa’san Carr responded swiftly and simply.
“Leadership is not a position, it’s action,” he said. “It’s not about the title you have, it’s about what you do with the title.”
Carr, wise beyond his years, credits his maturity to his family life. He lives with a big family, noting seven siblings, his mother, his grandmother, great-grandmother and two dogs.
His grandfather, who passed in 2011, was a Vietnam war veteran – someone he modeled himself after.
“He was my whole life, he was my inspiration,” Carr said.
Though it would be easy to say he’s inspired by his grandfather, Carr memorializes his grandfather every day when he dons a trademark suit. Yes, Carr dresses in a suit every day.
“It’s been with me since third grade,” he said with a smile. “This was his legacy, he dressed nice, had good manners. I tried to be the same person, in his image and walk in the same path he did.”
He plans on keeping his grandfather’s legacy alive in other ways, too. Instead of joining the military, Carr plans on using his leadership to change the world.
For starters, he’s involved with the BRAVE Leadership Academy, PIN Leadership, the rock club, student council, site council, officers club, 2020 Senate, African American Cultural Society and Interact club. Outside of school he is heavily involved in his church by sitting on the trustees board and as a mentor to the youth usher board.
With an impressive resume of leadership activities it’s difficult to narrow down which one is most remarkable. One activity he prides himself on, however, is his membership on the student board of education. The group of students meet the week before the monthly board of education meeting to brief each other on what they want to bring to the table to keep the board informed of what’s happening in the school.
“We’re trying to keep adding onto the stability we have with students and staff,” Carr said of their goal.
He feels as if the group is making a difference, too.
“I think I’m making an impact because I see people actually step up and put in time, have faith in what we’re doing here, not just saying stuff, putting action to it,” he said.
“I believe I’ve been doing that for the last four years. People look up to me as a leader and look to me for help and guidance and I believe I’m doing my best to try to guide them so when I’m gone I leave a legacy behind of leadership and we can change things. We have to do it in the right way.”
Change is the key word there. The word “change” brings memories of past President Barack Obama and though Carr never made the comparison himself, plenty of others have for him.
“For me, it was really defining to see someone who looks like me on TV and get that position,” Carr remembered. “It was remarkable. If he could do it, I definitely could do it. I really haven’t acknowledged him as my role model, but if you ask anybody around the building, they compare me and him together. Even though it’s my goal (to be president), they see it in me. I don’t have to say anything.”
Carr, wise beyond his years, recognizes that a leader doesn’t have to be a Democrat or Republican. The proof? Another politician he appreciates is former Sen. John McCain.
“He understood both sides of the story,” Carr said.
He referenced the deciding vote McCain cast in July 2018 which denied a bill to replace the Affordable Care Act.
“Nothing would go through. President Trump would be waiting on John McCain and (McCain) would wait because he was patient on what he wanted to do. He didn’t want to make a decision that would hurt either side. He wanted to be fair.”
Before Carr can begin his presidential election process in 2040, he must first graduate from high school and college. Part one will be complete in May, and beyond that, Carr plans on attending a historically black college or university to major in political science. Though he hasn’t made an official decision yet, Morehouse College is his top choice. From there he aspires to attend law school to become a corporate lawyer before beginning a career in politics – possibly starting as a mayor before working his way up.
“I really want to change the world, anyway I can do that, I want to do that,” he said. “That’s my biggest goal other than being president of the United States. I plan to run in 2040, that’s been my goal, everyone knows about it.”
One thing’s for certain – Carr learned his foundation of leadership from his time at Williamstown High School. From his involvement with clubs and starting from the ground up, he learned that leadership starts with having a good heart. He believes if your heart is in the right place, you can become a good leader.
“I want to change the world. We have a beautiful world, we need good leaders, we need good leadership and I think if I’m doing what I’m doing now and I keep impacting people that I will get to the place I need to be and should be, guided by my faith, and change the world one day at a time. That’s my biggest goal.”