A few years after graduation, Steve Naron landed a job as a high-level consultant with the Center for Naval Analyses, thanks in part to his Johns Hopkins education. But when the center shipped him off to Toastmasters International, the public-speaking organization, he realized one thing he hadn’t learned in school was how to present effectively in front of a crowd. Today, after years of training, he gives speeches regularly and with ease. To pass that skill along, he recently started an extracurricular course in public speaking for high school students, through the service club Rotary International.
“It’s a pleasure to see these kids come out of their shells,” he says. “The first week they get up and giggle and stutter. By the sixth week, they look like mini-lawyers.”
Naron first joined Rotary nearly a decade ago because he liked the idea of public service in general, but he eventually realized that, through the club, he could develop new service goals that played off his own experiences and talents. For example, he is also developing an organization to train nonprofits in running large projects, a skill he knows well as a former IBM consultant.
Naron serves Rotary itself by overseeing the international graduate students who come to the Baltimore-D.C. area through the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. (This year, four of the area’s six scholars will be attending Johns Hopkins.) Each student is paired with a local counselor who hosts them during holidays, introduces them to Americans, and generally helps them become acclimated. Naron is himself a counselor, but he is also in charge of pairing counselors with students. And should any larger problems arise, he is there to solve them.
“The scholars tend to be fun, interesting, altruistic people, the ones who will change the world,” Naron says. “Who wouldn’t want to spend time with them?”