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Adventure awaited student leaders at GRCC’s Student Leadership Conference

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"Adventure Awaits" was the theme of the Student Leadership Conference at GRCC and it was reflected in the decor as the centerpieces show here on September 14, 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Tatiana Diaz/The Collegiate)

About 45 students attended the Student Leadership Conference intended to encourage students to encourage peers in their leadership roles across campus Friday at Grand Rapids Community College.

“Adventure Awaits” was the theme of the conference, hosted by GRCC’s Student Life and Conduct staff. Sessions including “Grab Your Moral Compass,” “Adventure Fund” and “Destination: Your Best Self” not only had catchy travel-themed names but concentrated on putting student leaders on the path to success.

GRCC business student and TRiO (a student support service designed to help first generation college students succeed) recipient Connie Dock, 47, attended the conference to learn something new, she said. During the sessions, Dock says she learned how to be a better person and communicator.

“There’s all different styles of people out there,” Dock said. “And it’s good to keep an open mind and not look at things in black and white.”

Sophomore and Women’s Issues Now member, Trista Dearth, also found the sessions at the conference educational and said they helped her come to some realizations.

“The philanthropist (session) definitely (helped) with our student organization, especially with semesters where your workload is a lot,” Dearth said. “Sometimes it just gets overbearing and just seems like too much to do and not enough time, but Corey (Turner) (who led the “How to be an everyday philanthropist” session), she really was passionate about philanthropy and kind of relit the flame and really motivated us to keep striving towards doing what we love and working towards making the world a better place.

“Even if it’s just small steps and little things. It doesn’t have to be these crazy extravagant events that you have to put on. It could be something as small as holding the door for someone or volunteering… so it could be small things and you’re making the world a better place.”

The conference closed with encouraging words by Mindy Ysasi, the conference’s keynote speaker. Ysasi is the executive director of The Source, a local non-profit organization that supports people in the workforce to keep their jobs and better their positions.

Tatiana Diaz | The Collegiate Live
Mindy Ysasi speaking at the 2018 Student Leadership Conference at GRCC on September 14, 2018 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Tatiana Diaz/The Collegiate)

Prior to her speech, Ysasi spoke with The Collegiate about her hopes for the student leaders in attendance and what she wished they’d learn from her.

“One of the things that I see… I so often hear people talking themselves out of things before they even start,” Ysasi said. “‘I’m not going to apply for that job because they probably wouldn’t hire me.’ ‘I’m not going to seek out that opportunity because you need to have this that or the other.’ What I want people to know is don’t stop before you even start it. I think sometimes when we come into spaces of education, sometimes we can have impostor syndrome, so don’t stop before you get started. Stop comparing yourself with other people and be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

During her chat, Ysasi offered students some words of encouragement to take back to their student organizations or anywhere their college career takes them.

“Some of you are here today, maybe on your own most of you are probably here today because you’re involved with some sort of student leadership organization,” Ysasi said. “Oftentimes when we are leaders, we think that means we have to be the person that has to do everything. We have to organize everything. And that’s not the case.

“So when you think about your leadership and going back to your organizations, I encourage you to think about that. Think about if you all were essentially equal or thought of yourselves more in that way versus like the hierarchy we often think of. I think your organizations will be much better, be much stronger.”

Ysasi also talked about the importance of PIE: Performance, Image and Exposure.

“Those three things together are very key no matter what type of working environment,” Ysasi said. “Those three things are going to be so important to your success because the performance is your ticket to entry. Everybody has to have good performance. The whole idea of your image is really about how you present yourself. Are you positive? Do you communicate well with others? Do people look at you as someone who can be trusted with tasks to be handled? And the last, exposure, is this idea of sponsorship. So there are coaches, there are mentors and there are sponsors, and sponsors are people that talk about you (professionally).”

First-year GRCC student Halima Sufi, 19, responded well to Ysasi’s PIE acronym stating it was her favorite part of the speech.

“The way you carry yourself, that’s how people view you,” Sufi said. “If you want people to respect you or take you serious, you have to have those three things with you.”

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