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Leadership Development Program brings student leaders together

by Margaret Stewart - News Editor
Wed, Feb 27th 2019 03:00 pm
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This year, the Leadership Development Program hosted it’s Leadership Conference on Sunday, Feb. 24 in the Seymour College Union Ballroom. The conference brought together student leaders from various clubs and organizations that are located on the campus of The College at Brockport.

After a welcome breakfast and a brief introduction, the keynote speaker Melissa Ruiz, took the stage. During her speech, Ruiz touched upon the importance of student interaction and active participation on college campuses. She resonated with the students and faculty in attendance with her high energy, politically charged metaphors and audience interaction.

Ruiz brought the Dance Floor Theory to attendees, saying that the unspoken rules that occur at a school dance are the same rules that relegate student participation across campuses nationwide.

Organizer and participant Junior D. Auguste put the theory to the test. Auguste showed off his dance moves first in the middle of the dance floor and, eventually, on stage.

“10/10 I would do it again,” Auguste said.

In her speech Ruiz brought up the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). NSSE is a survey distributed to incoming college freshman and college seniors in order to see how students predict their participation on campus versus how much they actually did.

According to the NSSE, 60 to 84 percent say that they never have and never will participate in school sponsored events.

Ruiz discusses how that number can fluctuate and increase based upon the way leaders around campus demonstrate how involved other students should be and how to become more involved. 

“Lead with 100 percent,” Ruiz said. “Not with 50.”

It is the leaders that will create connections and legacies on campus and who will get the most out of their time at school, according to Ruiz. Ruiz said those who are more active on campus tend to have higher grades, higher graduation rates and higher success in their careers.

After Ruiz’s speech, participants were able to attend two breakout sessions of their choosing that focused upon different elements of being a leader. Following the sessions, there was a lunch featuring a variety of pastas, salad and breadsticks catered by Garnishes.

There were many in attendance, including Resident Assistant (RA) Jazmine Richardson, who went to the conference in order to fulfill the requirements of being a RA. 

“I hope the conference will help me develop skills that will help me in the future,” Richardson said.

An attendee, as well as one of this year’s organizers, Brockport senior Justin Maybach, said that over the years, the conferences have helped him develop the confidence to become a leader on campus.

“The program has given me all of the leadership experience I wanted since my freshman year,” Maybach said. “My favorite part has been seeing all of our hard work pay off.”

Senior nursing student, Jody-Ann Freeman, who helped to organize the conference, was recommended for the program by her mentor Sara Kelly. 

“Not only does the program look good on a resumé,” Freeman said. “I like having the opportunity to work with different organizations and network. There’s a sense of fulfillment progressing from green to the capstone and I would recommend it to anyone.”

While many of the capstone students were excited and focused about the culmination of the conference, this was only the first half of their requirements. The first half of the capstone is planning and organizing the Leadership Conference. The second half of the capstone is focused on picking a group or a cause to donate money to and fundraise for. As a senior in the Department of Public Health Alexis Graesser explained this was her favorite part.

“I feel passionate about helping different groups or organizations,” Graesser said. 

This year’s capstone class is still figuring out the exact details of who will be receiving the donation this year. That being said, the hope is they will be helping to organize a walk that will benefit those with cystic fibrosis. 

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