Buena Vista University will host its twelfth annual Cultural Leadership Conference (CLC) April 12-15. The conference provides high school juniors and seniors from diverse populations a firsthand look at college life at BVU. Over 40 students from across the Midwest and beyond are expected to attend this year’s event where they will attend classes and seminars, stay in residence halls, and enjoy campus entertainment.
“The CLC serves a dual purpose; it first allows BVU and its students to give back to minority communities by assisting in the growth and development of potential future student leaders,” says Yorgun Marcel, director of intercultural programs. “It secondly allows us to seek out and identify high school students from across the country who exemplify the qualities that we value in our student body and attempt to convince them to consider BVU as part of their college plans.”
This year, the event is being co-coordinated by Kimberly Perez, a junior mathematics and biochemistry double major from Brownsville, Texas, and Durant Freeman Jr., a senior business management major from Chicago. Over the past year, Kimberly and Durant have led the planning of the CLC with the help of four student committees.
“I started taking part in the planning of the conference my freshman year,” says Kimberly. “I actually came to BVU for the first time through the CLC and decided to attend the university as a result of my great experience at the conference.”
Other BVU students as well as faculty and staff are also assisting with this year’s conference by hosting workshop sessions, presenting, and providing transportation for participants. The event is sponsored by BVU’s Office of Intercultural Programs, and will cover all costs for the visiting students including transportation, food and overnight accommodations.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Building for the Future.” “We hope to let the students know that they are the future, and that they have a choice on how they want to build it,” says Durant.
The first day of the conference will focus on introducing the students to BVU. “Thursday is a ‘break-the-ice’ day,” says Durant. “Students will receive an introduction on what to expect throughout the conference and participate in team challenges to build relationships.”
Friday’s emphasis will be on leadership. Students will have the opportunity to attend classes at BVU, tour the campus, and hear presentations from Dr. Jill Rhea, associate professor of communication studies, and Becka Neary-DeLaPorte, director of student activities and leadership development. Later, students will be entertained by hypnotist Chris Jones, and can participate in a night of fun at King’s Pointe Waterpark Resort.
Activities on Saturday will focus on leadership and include presentations from BVU alumni who were members of the campus organization, Men of Character, and DIVAS (Developing Intellectual Vision And Self), an organization based out of Chicago which — as described on its Web site — is “dedicated to empowering and enriching the lives of young women through lectures, discussions and life experiences.” Later, students will hear Rob Smith, a war veteran, writer and lecturer, speak about diversity and political issues.
Other events will include service projects across Storm Lake and surrounding communities, presentations from campus organizations, and a question-and-answer session with a panel of BVU students. A banquet is to be held Saturday evening in the Estelle Siebens Science Center where special guest speaker, Mimi Nguyen Reed, the senior marketing consultant within the Individual Distribution division of the Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, will discuss motivation and leadership. The CLC planning committees are currently working on plans for entertainment to conclude the night.
On Sunday, the final day of the conference, students will have the chance to speak with BVU alumni, and take part in a meditation session with BVU Chaplain Ken Meissner to reflect on what they learned throughout the conference before departing for home in the afternoon.
Kimberly hopes that the conference will have a lasting impact on the students who are attending. “We hope to eliminate the thought process of ‘college is not for me,’ and have the students understand that education is important for their futures,” she says.
More details on the conference can be found at http://www.bvu.edu/clc/.