The college’s Student Leadership Conference March 3 and 4 taught students about the strengths of diversity -- of cultures, of experiences and of opinions -- in cultivating leadership styles and success.

"The leadership conference really promoted the idea that we should surround ourselves with people who question our ideas and challenge us to be better,” senior biology major Marisa McDonough said. “I think this was such an important take-home message because it's so easy to want to surround yourself with like-minded people."

The conference, in support of the college's Oz Leads Leadership Institute, provided the current class of Oz Leads and other SUNY Oswego students with interactive workshops and training. Professionals from the campus community taught skills for success in campus leadership roles and beyond.

Ferial Govashiri, personal aide to former President Barack Obama, started the conference on an inspirational note, attendees said.  

“The keynote speaker was very engaging and her message was important to us as emerging leaders," said Carolyn Kelly, a senior double-majoring in marketing and public relations.

"It was really interesting to hear from someone in person about working with the president of the United States. I never thought I'd experience that at SUNY Oswego,” added Julie Loney, a junior journalism and Spanish major. 

Dean of Students Jerri Howland, associate vice president for student affairs, said the conference supports the college’s goal of creating a culture of student leadership at Oswego.

“Our students are involved in leadership activities in multiple ways all over campus and off-campus,” Howland said. “They often are grappling with how to make sense of these experiences to form a ‘leadership identity.’ The process of understanding one's leadership identity starts with questioning oneself by asking: ‘Am I a leader? Who am I as a leader? What type of leader do I want to be? What qualities do I need to be a leader or a great leader?’ or simply coming to terms with accepting that the activities they are engaging in within their organizations is in fact leadership.”

The breakout sessions on Saturday addressed such topics as embracing diversity, defining one’s leadership style, dealing with disagreements, managing conflict, setting goals, learning from mistakes, trusting teams, establishing succession plans for student organizations and more.

“The workshops focused a lot about working through and encouraging diversity, which can help a lot of groups succeed," Loney said.

"I enjoyed this leadership conference because there was a wide variety of topics in leadership studies that were covered,” Kelly said. “I learned a lot about myself as a leader and the ways that I can improve my strengths and weaknesses, from developing my personal leadership style, to managing conflict and accepting failure.”