Muto talks about his experience starting and leading a non-profit organization. (Photo by Madison Barnard)

Leading others to dream on campus and off

First-Year L&C student Alexander Muto aspires to help others become leaders in their own communities

By ALTHEA BILLINGS

WHILE MANY first-years enter college expecting accomplishment and success, Hawaii native, Alexander Muto, already holds a few notches in his belt. He’s the CEO of his own non-profit, a contributing author in a bestselling book on Amazon, and has spoken about his experiences internationally. All of that, before the age of eighteen.

Muto’s journey began in middle school, or what he describes as his “trial by fire.” It was in that socially polarized environment that Muto experienced bullying, in more ways than one.

“I felt not only the ridicule of being white in a society that was mostly Asian, but also placed out socially because of my ADHD and dyslexia,” Muto said. “I lost myself, and I let other people decide who I was and who I would be, letting their bullying and peer pressure really sink in and create the person that I was. I hated waking up to myself every morning. I hated feeling trapped by having other’s expectations put on me.”

But Muto did have a reprieve from all of this.

“I had this other personality that hung out with me like an imaginary friend and I let her be kind of the more positive side of myself, while I was the more negative. One day I decided to kind of switch places with her and embody her,” Muto said.

After that day in the life, he had a realization.

“Other people’s opinions had not only brought me pain but they had not brought me pleasure,” Muto said. He “destroyed that personality” and set out on a quest to find himself.

Muto travelled to Canada to see Deepak Chopra and then on to Los Angeles, perhaps the most pivotal part of his travels. There he participated in a youth summit on leadership, which was led by professional motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins in 2013. This summit attracted young people from all over the world.

“People who had grown up in very different economic backgrounds, some people who grew up living with nine other people in their room in Mumbai to people who had been in the US and been very privileged. And we all came together as people and familiar friends and souls to learn more about ourselves and others in a really open environment,” Muto described of the experience.

Robbins inspired Muto deeply.

“I was like ‘Oh my god, he’s teaching youth how to open up, discover who they are… they’re teaching what I want to teach,'” Muto said.

As impacted as he was, Muto knew he had to bring this message home, back to his community.

With the help of his mother, he raised $60,000 to bring 40 students from his high school to the same event the next year. Muto created the Hawaii Leadership Core (HLC) and the non-profit Ignite a Life to serve as the sponsoring organ. Throughout his work, Muto has seen a lot of change in those students.

“They are free now,” he said. “They’re leaders instead of followers, they have made it their personal mission to go out and help others as a kind of ripple effect.”

Outside of the annual summits in California, the HLC and its sister organization Dreamer’s Campus University (DCU), also created by Muto, serve as mentoring groups for students and give back to the community. “We did a walk for suicide prevention, we went with the Kirk foundation and planted trees on a military bombing range to try to restore the island’s ecosystem.”

Muto has high aspirations for DCU. Eventually, he hopes to have a physical campus for interested students.

“Dreamer’s Campus is going to be a maker’s space where people can explore different career paths,” he said.

DCU and HLC are self-sufficient operations, able to operate on their own, without Muto’s guidance. At the helm are those who have completed their programs, just like Muto has.

Furthermore, based on the model of his previous successes, Muto hopes to start another organization, tentatively titled ‘the Portland Leaders Core’, to enable more people, college students in particular to attend the Anthony Robbins event that changed his life.

“If there’s one thing you take away from this, it’s that I really love helping people,” Muto said. “I really want to help people discover who they are and be curious and explore, to grow as people so that they’re not bogged down by the chains of society and so that they can do what they want in their lives because you only get to live this life once… Might as well go down swinging.”

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