Last July, a group of Boston College students attended the 16th annual National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC) at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. The conference, which began at Regis University in 1997 and has been hosted at a different one of the 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and affiliate universities every year since, lasted four days and focused around the theme “Live the Mission.” Every day had a keynote speaker, as well as leadership sessions led by Holy Cross faculty, Holy Cross students, or students from the delegations of other schools participating in the conference.
BC’s own delegation included rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors from UGBC, the Residence Hall Association (RHA), Campus Ministry, the Student Organization Funding Committee (SOFC), and the Peer Leadership Consultant program (PLC). Also attending from BC were Jessica Graf, resident director of CKM (Cheverus, Kostka, and Medeiros) and RHA advisor; Hannah Trost, SOFC graduate assistant; and Adrienne Dumpe, SPO assistant director.
“It was a great way to improve on your skills as a leader, to work on time management, how to be more effective with social media advertising in your club, or how to make time for yourself,” said Maria Ireland, A&S ’15, who represented RHA at the conference. “So just building on personal leadership skills, personal qualities you want to grow in, and also improving your organizations at your own colleges.” She said that the speakers stressed taking time after the completion of programs to reflect on what was successful, and thereby improve planning for future events. Attendees were also encouraged to reevaluate their commitments, and to decide whether or not they would serve better by focusing on a few organizations rather than try to be involved in as many groups as possible.
According to Kathryn Nowak, A&S ’15, who represented both SOFC and PLC, the conference was a unique opportunity to collect fresh ideas and fresh perspectives. “It’s interesting because even though everyone comes from a different location around the country and from different schools, their own respective communities, a lot of their issues, and the challenges that they face within their organizations are similar across the board,” she said. “For instance, I’m on SOFC, the funding committee here, and it was really interesting to see the ways that other schools allocated their funds, see what issues they were having, and relate them back to ours.”
“The leadership skills I personally learned, I definitely think those are kicking in,” said Teddy Raddell, A&S ’15, who also represented RHA. “Just the small things, you know-people gave presentations on how to run a cheering section, or how to organize yourself, or how to think more like a Jesuit. It’s been the small things for me … personally becoming a better leader.”
Nowak, Ireland, and Raddell recently collaborated to submit a bid to hold the 2014 NJSLC at BC. “It’s never been hosted at BC before,” Raddell said. “We had a great time, all of us learned a lot … so coming back, we all decided that we want to host it here.” The trio will find out the results of their 21-page bid this November, and should BC be selected for 2014, planning will start immediately. The three will be co-chairs for the conference: Ireland would be the education chair, Nowak would be the logistics chair, and Raddell would be the special events chair. Each would supervise different committees made up of student volunteers, and BC student leaders would also be needed to lead sessions within the conference itself.
“If we get the bid, we’re going to try to get as many BC students involved as we can because it was a really inspiring week,” Ireland said. “We have such an enthusiastic student body here, and the kind of students who we think could benefit from the conference and also be a really great resource to share with other schools.”