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March 24, 2009
By Guia Del Prado
“Discover the Power,” a one day leadership conference, will be hosted on Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Joe Crowley Student Union by the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN), the Greek community, and several representatives from the University of Nevada, Reno and the City of Reno.
This year’s leadership conference will focus on leadership, service, inclusiveness and organization development. The conference is open to any student upon registration, which includes a $5 fee for pre-registration and registration on the day of the conference. Pre-registration forms and fees are due on Wednesday, March 25 in the ASUN accounting office.
Several workshop sessions will be conducted. The sessions include obtaining fellowships, engaging program volunteers, and the importance of diversity, presented by campus department and office and several community members.
“The way we approached it was one, to have workshops, educational sessions that were focusing on these four frameworks,” said Molly McCormack, assistant director of student activities and one of the conference’s coordinators. “They all offer such a unique perspective on the all-encompassing word leadership.”
Opening and concluding remarks will be made, bookending the series of workshops. Keynote speaker Christian Conte, assistant professor in counseling and educational psychology, will make opening remarks in the morning. Mike Hendi, chief executive officer of ESI Security Services in Reno community will make the closing remarks at the conclusion of the conference.
“The keynote speakers are strategically placed in the beginning and end of the conference in hopes that it will kind of spark the fire in the morning and sustain the fire in the conclusion of the conference,” McCormack said.
Students attending the conference will also get a chance to network with University of Nevada, Reno alumni at the luncheon, which will be provided. The opportunity to network and meet alumni will allow students to share their common experiences at the University and acquire tips for being a successful leader following college.
“I think a lot of the alumni are business leaders and involved in community service,” said Amy Koeckes, associate director of marketing and media in ASUN Student Activities. “Sharing how they can be successful once they leave the University and go on into the community.”
Networking at the luncheon will also allow students to enter into business or professional relationships with alumni that can be developed in the future with internships or employment.
“This will give a chance for students to meet those figureheads in the community and establish relationships with them,” McCormack said. “They can at least open the avenues for internships, shadowing experiences, things that don’t necessarily cost money for them but provide a huge experiential benefit for the student.”
The networking luncheon was also a chance for ASUN officers and representatives to fill the gaps of activities and resources left by some budget cuts, including the dissolution of career services, said 21-year-old Jason Entsminger, director of clubs and organizations.
“I think that things like the networking lunch are different types of activities or events that we can begin to look at to meet some of the challenges that our campus is facing and will be facing,” Entsminger said. “If we can provide innovative solutions then I think that we’re doing our job by helping students and by providing them with those different opportunities.”
In previous years, the leadership conference was marketed only towards students who were themselves leaders of clubs or organizations. This year the scope was widened to include all students, regardless of previous involvement with any organization on campus.
“We really want to see a diverse group of students participating,” Enstminger said. “Really what we were looking at with this and what I wanted to see was a leadership conference where we can come together as a campus community. Conferences like this one are an excellent place for students to build that community while they build themselves.”
The bigger goal of the conference, apart from developing leadership skills among the students, is to help identify what actions, thoughts and attitudes make a person a leader. Both McCormack and Koeckes believe that what makes leadership doesn’t just exist with a title but with a student’s responsibilities in the classroom, in the practice field, in the research laboratory, in the student senate or even in extracurricular activities.
“Leadership is an action and not a title,” McCormack said. “I think the whole goal this conference is about empowering and enabling students to realize that.”