Approximately 35 students gathered in the Marty Theater united by a single challenge: dare to lead. For five hours, the students underwent lectures and discussions, all designed to enhance their leadership skills.
The Lewis J. Burger Center for Leadership and Service hosted its inaugural leadership conference, Dare to Lead, on Aug. 31. As part of Welcome Week, the conference was designed with first-year students in mind.
Ben Wright, director of the center, organized the event. He said he wanted the program to give new members of campus a sense of belonging.
“We wanted to bring people together who identify as leaders so they can then come together and build their own community,” Wright said.
Organizers separated the day into sections, where students could chose to participate in one of two lectures, with a total of six offered. Participants were encouraged to attend the lecture that challenged them the most. Some lecture topics included, “From Grit to Great,” “Know Your Why” and “University of Life.”
Susan Rapp, associate director of the Academic Success Center, titled her lecture “From Grit to Great.” It focused on the concept of living life with passion and perseverance for long-term goals.
“You have grit just for being here,” Rapp said at the lecture. “It’s a Saturday morning, there are people still sleeping.”
Down the hall, credentialing coordinator of the College of Education and Health Sciences Julie Schifeling asked participants, “What makes you come alive?” Her lecture, “Know Your Why,” required students to examine their passions and strengths. By the end of the lecture, they should have had a better understanding of their purpose.
“And as leaders, it’s important that other people know [and] to let people know, ‘This is who I am,’” Schifeling said.
Participants shared their deepest passions to a room full of strangers.
“My main [passion] was helping others and giving back to the community,” freshman political science and English double major Melody Hampton said.
She said her family has served in local politics and her dad is a volunteer fire chief.
“It just helped me realize how important it is to give back to the community that helped me grow,” Hampton said.
Wright acknowledged this conference was just the beginning.
“No five-hour experience is going to be super transformational,” Wright said. “But if we can just get the light bulb to turn on, for people to just think about who they want to be, that’s the purpose.”