Speakers include hockey’s Trevor Linden and War Child founder Samantha Nutt
When you host your peers for the first time, you work hard to impress.
That is certainly the case at UBC’s Okanagan campus where students are hosting the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership in Kelowna this week, March 7 to 9. This is the first time the event is being held in BC and the local organizers have packed the agenda with a wide range of activities and all-star keynote speakers.
“This is a leadership conference that is organized for the students by the students. All the decisions have been made by us, and in most cases, students are teaching the sessions,” says senior psychology student and event co-organizer Guillermo Angel. “I see the conference as an important piece of student learning and we’re excited to be hosting it.”
Former Vancouver Canuck captain Trevor Linden is one of four keynote speakers. Linden will be joined by War Child Canada founder Dr. Samantha Nutt, innovative and inspirational speaker Blake Fleischacker, and John Buck, associate dean of students at Webster University, St. Louis.
More than 245 students from across Canada are registered for the three-day event which will take place at the Delta Grand Hotel.
“We are extremely proud to be hosting this event at UBCO,” says Jacqueline Beaulieu, acting manager of Campus Life. “We have a diverse group of individuals coming from across Canada and we can’t wait to showcase our campus and Kelowna.”
Beaulieu describes student leadership as an important, but sometimes, forgotten piece of a good education. It gives students the chance to organize events, network with each other, and learn new skills — all essential for a well-rounded education.
“While it does give students a great opportunity to get involved, we know once they have graduated, their student leadership experiences can help them be the best applicant in the job pool,” she adds. “Through leadership they learn the soft skills that employers are often looking for and it’s proven that those soft skills make the difference.”
She uses the example of two doctors — both at the academic top of their class. But it’s the doctor with those soft skills, who can communicate well, show leadership, and deal with tough decisions, that will be more sought after. And soft skills range all over the map — from how you handle a difficult conversation with a colleague, to how you step in to help a friend in need, how you treat your family, to event planning, and volunteerism.
Angel, who is co-chair of marketing and communication for the conference, says he has gained valuable knowledge while being involved with the event. It’s the stuff you can’t learn in a classroom.
“The skills I have learned through the leadership conference are the ones that will hopefully tip the scales when I’m looking for a job. By helping to organize this event, I’ve had the ability to practice my leadership, mentoring, and coaching skills. All of these will help me when I go out into the world and look for that job.”
The conference, which is open to undergraduate students, graduate students, university faculty and staff , is comprised of plenary sessions, leadership workshops, roundtables and a leadership café. Delegates arrive Thursday and sessions, which range from communication, prioritization, time management, cross-cultural leadership, how to learn through travel, and volunteer management, run all day Friday and Saturday.
Beaulieu notes that many of the sessions have been developed and will be facilitated by students from UBC’s Okanagan campus.
“The experience that our students have gained while organizing this event has been invaluable. And I expect that each participant is going to home with a stronger leadership capacity than before and perhaps introduce an idea that just might make a big difference on their own campus.”
Angel agrees and says he expects to get more than just a good experience from the three-day event.
“These are the skills I will use throughout my life. Whether it’s skill development, creating a vision, or a practical session on how to organize an event, these are skills that I am always going to find useful.”
More information about the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership can be found
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