In the epic poem Paradise Lost, John Milton chronicles on of the greatest dramas in the history of all creation, the Biblical fall from grace. Tracing from Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven, subsequent banishment to Hell, and his pursuit of vengeance against his creator and the human race, it is a rather unlikely allegory for a website on student leadership to refer to.
Nonetheless, there comes a point in the story when the angel Raphael is sent by the Lord to Eden, to warn Adam and Eve of the impending evil that is racing toward them. As he sets out to explain what has transpired up to this point, however, he initially finds himself at a loss for words. Quite literally, he wonders how on Earth he is going to go about explaining such divine matters as war, ambition, and corruption to newborn mortal souls. Then, in a moment of illumination, he remarks:
“What if earth;
Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein;
Each to other like, more than on Earth is thought!”
There is truth in remarking that such divine machinations, whirring on a grand scale, might spiral down and reflect themselves in some way upon this new stage. That, just perhaps, it may be possible for this smaller world to share in all the finer workings of its counterpart, the good and bad alike.
We live and work in the shadows of a grander design. Whether it’s in carving out a niche on a college campus, adjusting to our role within a single unit of the armed forces, or devoting our time to a civic organization, these roles are connected by similar threads to offices and institutions that extend throughout our societal structure. In particular, the backgrounds of our Co-Founders often lead us to explore the microcosm of roles developed on collegiate campuses across the country. Whether you’re a student in the academic sense or simply a student of life, however, there is one crucial manner in which the nature of these broader configurations are glimpsed—through stories.
Together with our guest authors, regular contributors, and our readers, we seek to build a dialog on the finer lessons of life that permeate across all disciplines, classes, and cultures. Together, we will share the stories that shape the world. This is our mark. This is our shadow.
The Fox holds a great deal of significance for our founders. In crafting the mark of MSL, Michael D. Johnson and Brittany M. MacLeod returned to familiar imagery from their collegiate past.
A symbol traditionally associated with cunning, the Fox holds a more traditional connection to tackling life's challenges with brain over brawn. As our site offers a reflective look at past experiences and insights to lead our readers through the process of mapping out their own paths towards success, the Fox seemed to be a worthy guide.
The shadows obscuring our Fox also hold a special, symbolic meaning. Though they may seem rather ominous, these markings represent the fading of a once vibrant ideal and serve as a reminder that the impressions we make are not always permanent. The goal of making a lasting mark upon the world is a continuous effort.As noted above, the shadows also hearken back to the lesson raised by Milton's heavenly storyteller, that even the smallest moments of our episodic lives relate to broader life lessons.
We hope our Fox will serve as your guide through the process of assessing and shaping your own, personal mark.
"What's In A Name?"
The meaning of "MSL"
The idea to launch a blog on the leadership and life lessons that one can draw from even the most mundane life experiences and develop a discussion that will guide millennials and other young readers in charting their own life stories stemmed from a project by our co-founder, Michael D. Johnson.
After settling into an elected role in his hometown community as a member of the Montville Township Board of Education, MJ started to piece together notes on the lessons from his past student government involvement that had prepared him for this larger role within his community. After presenting these points to student attendees in the Marist College Emerging Leaders Program, he started to refine his notes into a manuscript.
Memoirs of a Student Leader became his working title for the project, launched in the Fall of 2017. Stemming from the narrative approach he took in sharing his own life lessons, the title carried over into his work with Brittany M. MacLeod to collect the stories of other young leaders, abbreviated over time as simply "MSL".
Since this site first launched in late 2016, the scope of stories and experiences shared has increased rapidly. From world travelers across the globe to young professionals, entrepreneurs, and curious wanderers, it became clear that "Memoirs of a Student Leader" could no longer resonate with such a diverse audience.
So, the MSL team sought to re-evaluate the brand, asking themselves what this project had grown to express. Our leadership team agreed that the site continued to thrive off of the Many Shared Lessons of its guests, remained committed to Making Stories Last in guiding others to make a mark of their own, and collectively Make Significant Strides in building a discussion on the potential and experience of this up-and-coming generation of leaders.
In all that we are and all that we do we remain, quite simply, "MSL".