Ten Takeaways from My Time at SSI


1. “The horse is prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” This is a phrase that James says all the time and it has quickly become one of my favorite mantras. It is a phrase that both challenges and comforts me. I am a planner, an organizer, and someone who places great value on effectiveness. Something I have learned, is that you can plan everything perfectly and be as prepared as possible but there will still be unforeseen problems that arise. It is comforting to know that as long as I do my best, the horse is prepared for the battle, then the rest is in the hands of God, the victory belongs to the Lord. It is also challenging to remember that even in my best made plans and efforts, it is the Lord who works in me and through me and the victory is ultimately His, not mine.

2. Collaboration produces the best results. We have a staff of six, and one of my favorite parts of working for SSI is how much we all collaborate with each other. Everyone involved has an opportunity to weigh in and share their thoughts before the decision is made. This has led to smoother processes and greater ideas. Everyone in the office knows that their voice matters and that their insight is valued.

3. Empathy is a vital component to relationship. Disagreements will always happen. That is part of both collaboration and politics. People have different approaches, they come at problems from different angles, they have read different books, and they have different backgrounds and upbringings. Empathy is vital to maintaining relationships through disagreements. I love that we don’t let our legislative students choose the side of the bill they are on. Because, if they disagree, then this week gets to be a lesson in empathy. A lesson in hearing both sides of the argument. That is so important.

4. Students perform to your expectations. SSI isn’t exactly easy. And every year, every week, every day sometimes, students are pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and achieving more than they thought they could. It has been such an honor to work with these students and to watch them excel.

5. Even when I think I can’t, I can. Similarly to what the students experience, being on staff at SSI often feels like being thrown into the middle of the ocean and being asked to swim to shore. And although there were times I didn’t think I was going to make it, I did. Every single time. And those challenges always resulted in growth. For that I am truly thankful.

6. Everything comes back to people. People are integral to this organization and we NEVER forget that. Working at SSI has taught me to attach every single task, even the mundane ones, to a person. Every letter has a person on the other end of it. Every registration is a student. Every Financial Aid request is a family. These are real people with real needs, desires, and passions. They deserve my utmost care and attention.

7. Kind but firm. It’s easy to be one or the other. The tricky part is being both. This is a skill I have now had a lot of opportunities to develop.

8. No job is beneath you. One thing I love about working in a small office, is that everyone helps with everything. It is rare to work somewhere that your bosses help you seal and stamp envelopes. I am so grateful to James and Tim for leading by example and teaching us that being a leader is being a servant and that you’re never too professionally advanced to help in the small tasks.

9. God puts you right where you need to be, when you need to be there. After interning with SSI in 2014, I said “never again will I go back” but, by the grace of God, I did. And I am so glad I did. There is no doubt in my mind that this is where I was supposed to be in this season of my life. Not only have I seen that to be true in my own story, I have seen that to be true in the lives of my coworkers, our volunteers, and our students.

10. People are often exceedingly kind. Watching current events unfold, it can be so easy to forget that people have the potential to be kind, generous, and gracious. But, when I feel disheartened, I remember people I have met at SSI. Students who say the right thing at the right time. Volunteers who give and give and give even when they feel like they have nothing left. Donors who share of their resources so that we can keep the lights on in our office. And coworkers who bear with one another in love through mistakes and triumphs.


Amanda Pattillo-Lunt began serving as SSI’s Executive Administrator in 2015. She and her husband Aaron are preparing to move to Chicago with their kitties Lucy and Cheddar. Amanda enjoys travel, public speaking, organizing, reading, and coffee, and she’s only ever met one pizza she didn’t like. Ironically, it’s Chicago style.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the position of the Student Statesmanship Institute. SSI is a non-profit educational organization and provides this blog as a platform for those who have been involved in our program to engage and share thoughts related to current events, issues of the day, and personal experiences, but does not necessarily endorse the content therein.