“Courage and Confidence” is the theme of Sweet Briar’s 17th annual Student Leadership Conference, hosted by the Leadership Certificate Program. The event takes place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the College’s Elston Inn Conference Center and is open to all college students.
While organizers say spots are filling up quickly, there is still time to register.
The theme of this year’s conference is inspired by keynote speaker Tricia Downing, formerly a competitive cyclist who became a paraplegic after being hit by a car in 2000. In her talk “Redefining Able,” Downing will discuss the importance of overcoming obstacles and embracing new challenges.
“Through her experiences in both rehab and racing, Tricia has overcome adversity and learned what it takes to perform at the top of her game,” according to her website. “Having made the transition from able-bodied cyclist to an athlete with a disability, Tricia knows the true meaning of the words challenge and change, and has learned … to deal with the obstacles we all face in reaching for our personal goals.”
Downing’s keynote speech will be followed by two sessions with breakout speakers, among them repeat speaker Alison Stockdale ’00, drug program manager for the U.S. Department of the Interior (“Advice I Would Take Again”); U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Katherine Polevitzky ’93 (“Servant Leadership”); seasoned speaker Molly Cousins, hiring manager at J.Crew (“Exploring & Defining Your Own Inner Courage and Confidence”); and Gloria T. Witt, who recently retired from AREVA’s human resources department and founded her own business, Define Success Coaching and Facilitation Services, LLC. (“Lessons Learned and Advice for the Real World”).
The conference is organized by Leadership Certificate Program students in their second or third year.
“[It] is one of the choices they can pick at the beginning of the year,” says LCP director Joan Lucy.
The three-year program seeks to foster students’ personal development and leadership skills. While it is not a class and doesn’t provide academic credit, participants receive a certificate after completing all three phases.
During the first phase, students explore different definitions of leadership and practice basic skills such as time management and public speaking. In the second phase, the focus shifts beyond the individual to being part of a team, with community service projects and individual or small group presentations taking up a large part of the second-year experience. The third phase is meant to enhance students’ awareness of global and contemporary issues in leadership, as well as ethical dilemmas, decision-making frameworks and gender issues in leadership. Students in this last phase of the program also often present to, and mentor, students in the earlier phases.
To organize the annual conference, students do everything from brainstorming and choosing speakers to planning the schedule and creating posters and web content. Sometimes, Lucy lends a helping hand — while the students chose the keynote speaker themselves, Cousins and Witt ended up on the schedule through Lucy’s connections with the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.
To date, the conference is almost at its capacity of 125 participants, with most of them being Sweet Briar students and some staff, but also several students from Hampden-Sydney College.
Lucy is hoping to attract a few more participants from different colleges.
“We have just a few spots left, and all are welcome, so come join us!”
Category: Leadership Certificate Program