BVU Hosts Fourteenth Annual Cultural Leadership Conference

BVU Hosts Fourteenth Annual Cultural Leadership Conference

Buena Vista University hosted high school students from across the Midwest at the fourteenth annual Cultural Leadership Conference (CLC) April 10-13.

The CLC offers high school juniors and seniors from diverse populations a firsthand look at college as they attend classes and seminars, stay in a residence hall and enjoy a weekend of campus activities.

“Our goal was to make the conference a powerful experience,” said Elizabeth Lopez, a sophomore criminology and criminal justice major from Wells, Minn., and co-chair of the CLC. “We hosted speakers and planned activities where students learned about diversity, the challenges people face as members of diverse populations and what we can do to work toward acceptance... how we can bring these pieces together.”

This year’s theme, “Bringing the Pieces Together,” drew nearly 30 potential future BVU students to the Storm Lake campus. Co-chairs of the CLC were BVU students Lopez, Estefany Gonzalez, a senior accounting major from Orange City and Jordan Celine Flynn, a senior Spanish major from Albuquerque, N.M.

“The conference was an exciting and informative opportunity to show BVU as we see it – a great school with great people,” said Gonzalez. “We talked about diversity, leadership and spirituality so the students learned a lot about themselves. We want them to leave empowered with the information they learned and ready to consider BVU in their college plans.”

Students arrived on campus Thursday, April 10 and stayed overnight in a residence hall. The next morning, they attended classes with their hosts, followed by an afternoon of leadership sessions and a service project.

Jamie Utt, a speaker and trainer who works with middle school, high school and college audiences to build inclusive and justice-centered communities, delivered his presentation “The Tipping Point: The Power of One to Realize Social Change,” highlighting the power of the individual in developing inclusive communities. Students also enjoyed an exercise with Utt called “The Wall,” which challenged them to be agents of change and inclusion.

“Jamie’s presentation and exercises were educational, engaging and fun for the students,” said Lopez. “We learned why leadership is key in our world, especially when it pertains to social justice and inclusion.”

The weekend also included presentations from Dr. Ashley Farmer-Hanson, director of civic engagement; Becka Neary-DeLaPorte, director of student activities and leadership; Jim Tincher, researcher, speaker and founder of Heart of the Customer; Jalaal Madyun, BVU Class of 2011 and life coach at JAM Life Coaching; and keynote speaker Mimi Reed, senior marketing consultant with Principal Financial.

On Sunday, students had the chance to speak with BVU students and alumni and take part in a meditation session with BVU Chaplin Ken Meissner to reflect on what they learned throughout the conference before departing for home in the afternoon.

The CLC gives students insight into themselves, their surroundings and what they can expect at BVU.

“The overall goal for the conference is to have each person who comes explore different cultures that surround them every day and gain a better understanding of who they are,” said Flynn.

“I attended the CLC in 2012, and that was my introduction to BVU,” said Lopez. “I originally planned on going to a college in Minnesota, but when I attended the CLC, met the faculty, staff and students and discovered the strong academics and coursework BVU offered, I knew I found exactly what I was looking for in my college career.”

The Cultural Leadership Conference is an annual event. Dates for next year’s CLC are April 16-19, 2015.