Student conference teaches leadership skills


Courtesy of the Office of Student Engagement

Professor Lisa Starkey led the “Creating a Growth Mindset” session at a Riverhawks Rise leadership conference for students this week.

Dominic Salacki, Editor-in-Chief

More than 46 AACC students attended a college-sponsored leadership conference on Tuesday and Wednesday to learn how to hold a position of authority.

Lea Brisbane, the leadership conference committee chair, said the purpose of the Riverhawks Rise conference was to “start spreading leadership development” and “planting those seeds in our students with the purpose of setting the stage to build on it.”

Brisbane said she proposed the leadership conference in March during her job interview with the college.

“During my interview, I was asked to put on a presentation about what I would do for a conference, and then I got to see that come to fruition,” Brisbane, leadership and involvement specialist in the office of Student Engagement, said. “This was my baby from start to finish.”

Benjamin Mills, a second-year computer science student, said it was “fun” to attend some of the leadership conference sessions.

“I actually wanted some of [the sessions] to be a little bit longer,” Mills said. “There were some things I wish I could have attended that I couldn’t.”

Professor Jen Lara led the “Values Mining” session on Tuesday and reminded the students that they were getting free instruction at the conference that they might have to pay for in “the real world.”

“It is part of your tuition; it is part of your experience and I’m thrilled because the more people who know their core values, the better the world will be,” Lara, head coach and co-creator of AACC’s engagement coach training program, said.

Student Government Association President Ben Nussbaumer said the conference had a lot of benefits involving developing leadership skills.

“I’ve always struggled with understanding exactly how to use social media to reach more people so being able to go to [“Applying Leadership Principles in Social Media” on Wednesday] was useful,” Nussbaumer, a third-year general education student, said. “I feel like all the ones that I went to really helped out. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be in two places at once so I had to pick and choose [sessions].”

Brisbane had SGA members lead focus groups at the end of the conference to get feedback from student attendees. Brisbane said that so far, response from the students has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

Students “liked the amount of workshops and the timeframe wasn’t too much,” Brisbane said. “They liked having it both in person and online and that it covered diverse subject matters.”

Bribane said she will organize a leadership development workshop series for the spring semester.

“That will build on a lot of the ideas that we set at the conference,” Brisbane said. “The goal is to be able to continue to build on that.”