International students develop perceptions about leadership based on cultural practices in their home country. What is the leadership experience of international students in the United States? This study sought to describe the lived leadership experiences of international graduate students. A total of 17 participants, from 11 different countries were recruited for face-to-face indepth interviews. The participants were enrolled in a large public university and served in a formal leadership position on campus. Four themes emerged concerning graduate students’ leadership experience with leadership and were categorized as: (1) contextually challenging; (2) essential; (3) task and people oriented, and; (4) rewarding. Recommendations are made for campus personnel and leadership educators who support international students.

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