Reaching a Deeper Level of Leadership

CBN.com Cheerleading. Leadership classes. A video camera. Iraq. These unlikely elements became the synergy behind Rachel Sherburne’s outstanding Regent University School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship (GLE) 2008 project award. While on active duty in Iraq, Sherburne determinedly pursued her studies toward a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MOL) from Regent, resulting in an award-winning video called Light of the World.

Sherburne has been drawn to leadership roles all of her life. “I always enjoyed inspiring people, cheering them on. When you ignite people’s passions, there is nothing better,” she reflects. Sherburne’s experiences in leading and encouraging others range from cheerleading, student government, ROTC, and finally, her U.S. Air Force career. As a public affairs officer, Sherburne has traveled the world to air shows with the Air Force F-15 demonstration team, speaking to millions.

Sherburne has seen how these previous experiences have prepared her for a greater challenge, providing new insights into this calling to lead. However, it wasn’t until recently that she began to comprehend leadership on a deeper level. Sherburne believes she is a woman with a story to tell.

After undergraduate school, Sherburne joined the Air Force, becoming a public affairs officer at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. Encouraged by a college professor to consider leadership courses, Sherburne thought Regent’s School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship would be a perfect fit. Then she was deployed to Iraq. Without an inkling of what was before her, she placed her belongings in storage and departed with a brand-new video camera in hand.

Sherburne had the unique opportunity of being assigned to Iraq at a pivotal time in history. General David Petraeus was about to orchestrate the troop surge, Saddam Hussein had just been executed, and the media were waiting to report any and all changes. As a liaison between worldwide media associations and the Joint Operations Center in Baghdad, Sherburne reported day-to-day military events to the media and provided analyses of the media responses to General Raymond Odierno on a regular basis. Such a position of responsibility was satisfying. Yet, deep inside, Sherburne believed she had been sent to Iraq for another reason. She refers to this pivotal time as both life changing and a dose of reality.

“Servant leadership” was a charge Sherburne had been carefully taught while studying at Regent. Once in Iraq, she felt an urge to do something more, something beyond her job description to meet the citizens’ needs. She first began volunteering at the Civil Military Operations Center, where Iraqi people were given free medical and dental care, food and clothing. “I found such fulfillment,” she says. Realizing how all people need a message of hope, Sherburne firmly embraced the principle of serving others.

Recording seemingly miles of tape on the video camera, she thought she had a historic record of her deployment, nothing more. However, after returning to Regent, Dr. Kathleen Patterson, GLE professor, encouraged Sherburne to share her experience as a final project for the MOL. Due to the flexibility of Sherburne’s advisor at Regent, she has discovered her passion, a climactic turning point in her life.

Since discovering a technology partner, Brad Vaughan of Virginia Beach, Va., Sherburne now has a sense of direction for her future. With Vaughan’s expertise behind the camera to complement Sherburne’s knack for speaking and acting, they share a vision for making a positive impact on their culture. Sherburne’s zeal for producing messages of faith and hope is evident. “People are looking for something bigger than themselves,” she proclaims. “We live in a world that tells us that if we serve ourselves, we’ll be happy. I learned that it’s when we serve others that we find peace and joy.” Sherburne’s greatest desire is to inspire others to be servant leaders.

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