Students learn leadership, importance of passion and values at conference

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    TCU students learned about leadership and the importance of passion and core values in life endeavors at the 19th annual State of Leadership Conference.

    The two-day conference, hosted by Student Development Service’s Leadership Center in partnership with the Neeley School of Business, took place on Feb. 22 and 23.

    The conference kicked off with a dinner Friday night and continued Saturday with various group sessions.

    At dinner, students engaged with community leaders and listened to keynote speaker Jessica Jackley.

    Jackley, co-founder of Kiva, a microlending website that allows individuals to lend $25 or more to underfinanced entrepreneurs, addressed the audience about the path in life that led her to develop Kiva.org.

    In her speech, she discussed her relationship with impoverished entrepreneurs and the importance of interpersonal connections. 

    "I think Jessica did an amazing job," Dede Williams, director of Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) Next Generation Leadership program, said.

    Williams said Jackley's tying of her personal and professional life is key for students to understand.

    "She was able to utilize her personal feelings to find something she was passionate about in life," she said. "And I think that's why all these students are here at TCU, because they're trying to find what they're going to spend their life's work on."

    Williams added that the things Jackley discussed in her speech directly relate to TCU's mission statement.

    Senior marketing major Kyle Cochran said it was great to hear Jackley's message and understand how she self-motivates. 

    "The value she has in impacting people, I'm able to understand my own motivations at the same time," Cochran said. "It was inspirational. I have a lot of thinking to do after that."

    The following day, students attended three group sessions and a lunch breakout session of their choice.

    At the group sessions, students engaged with speakers about values-centered enterprise, microlending in the Dallas-Fort Worth community and creating a leadership development plan.

    In the breakout lunch sessions, students chose between a presentation on using social media for change, the BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program and civic awareness in Tarrant county.

    Williams, who spoke at the civic awareness breakout session, said that Jackley had an "aha" moment, and she hopes that students can too through the educational sessions.

    "[Students] are able to learn more about their skill set, community needs or something that's going on that they may be passionate about," she said.

    She added that the sessions help students with idea generation and meeting other students on campus with similar interests. 

    First-year business major Harrison Floyd said he learned how to make his personal core values reflect in a company he is a part of from the conference.

    He said he also learned about microlending, microfinance and leadership positions in the workplace.

    Kiley Hiett, first-year psychology and child development double major, said she felt hesitant toward the conference at first.

    "It seemed very geared towards business," Hiett said, "But everything really incorporated this idea of engaging your values in what you're doing."

    She said she took away that a person's passion should always carry through what he or she does in their life and successes.

    "I really enjoyed [Dr. Carol Clyde's] presentation with the mission statement building," she added. "That was very much directed towards figuring out what you're passionate about and applying that toward your life."

    Hiett, a member of the Chancellor's Leadership Program, said she plans on attending next year's conference as well.

    Assistant Director of the Leadership Center Ebony Rose said she thinks the conference was successful and that there was a lot of student variety.

    "We have students attend who are across all majors, plus we have everyone from freshmen to senior," Rose said. "It's really important to figure out ways that we can reach all of them."

    She said the important part of the program is having students walk away feeling empowered.

    "Letting everyone feel like when they leave our conference, they feel connected and empowered and have a vision they can take out and do even more with," she said.

    Rose said the conference, which was open for anyone to register, had about 175 total student participants.

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