Eberly Students Participate in National Student Leadership Diversity Convention

Posted on 11/4/2020 9:50:55 AM

On Saturday, October 27, 2020, 16 students from the IUP Eberly College of Business and Information Technology participated in the Virtual National Student Leadership Diversity Convention. Tracy VanHorn-Juart, director of the Center for Leadership and Student Success, joined the students for the convention.

According to the NSLDC website, “The National Student Leadership Diversity Convention is the largest national gathering of student leaders and campus-based advisors to address the most critical topics of diversity and social justice challenging our campuses today. Through experiential workshops, keynote sessions, and roundtable discussions, teams of students will explore various elements of diversity and how they affect themselves and their campuses.”

Topics covered in the convention included: 

  • Creating Student Supports in COVID-19
  • Equity and Access
  • Isolation and Loneliness
  • Whiteness in America
  • Challenging Campus Leadership to Pay Attention to Equity

Hannah ColenSenior marketing major Hannah Colen appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference. “This session was valuable in helping me realize that, although I was overly-conscious of my race and gender at IUP, a part of my identity that I was least aware of on a daily basis was my socio-economic class and religion,” she said. “This session made me aware of my privileges, and made me consider how I could be more inclusive when being a student leader, whether that be for events or discussions.

“Everything I gathered from the convention was incredibly valuable, and I am thankful to have connected with many inspirational and like-minded individuals. Although we connect with sameness, we can grow with our differences,” said Colen.

Jake ShoenfeltSophomore human resource management major Jake Shoenfelt indicated that the conference provided many perspectives on things he never thought about. “I attended the Dismantling our Unhealthy Relationship with ‘I’m Sorry’ webinar hosted by Ayannah Johnson. Our culture has diluted this term into sometimes being a heartless apology,” he said. “You do not have to feel guilted into saying ‘sorry’ for things that you didn’t do! It has become a very common thing to say when someone else messes up and you want to make them feel more comfortable. There are better ways to relate with people. Flipping the conversation—when you mess up, own it! Explain why you are sorry and what you are going to do to fix it.

“I also attended the Black Lives Matter webinar hosted by Ayannah Johnson. The discussion was really good. I grew up in a small town, so I have not had a lot of exposure to Black people. I found the webinar to be very beneficial,” Shoenfelt said. “Ayannah broke the group up into smaller groups consisting of about 10 people per group, and we talked about our life experiences and views on BLM. It was cool to hear so many different sides to the situation. This webinar has strengthened my desire to learn more about the BLM movement.”

Randall BriningerSenior human resource and psychology major Randall Brininger indicated that his experience at the National Student Leadership Diversity Convention was inspiring and educational. “The first session I attended was by keynote speaker Rasheed Ali Cromwell, who is an attorney, Greek Life expert, and CEO of the Harbor Institute,” he said. “We discussed diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts, and how they relate to holding productive dialogues about controversial/sensitive topics. One of my favorite concepts that I learned about is the concept of ‘color blindness.’ This is a concept about those persons who say ‘I don’t see color.’ The danger of this phrase is that not seeing a person’s color is like stripping their identities. It ignores the identity of the person and the struggles they may face.

“Some other great key points Rasheed made were that we have to host an environment that supports and nurtures a diverse faculty, staff, and students,” Brininger said. “He made the point that it may be great to have diversity in numbers, but what are we actually offering for minority groups? I really enjoyed this session because it reminded me that productive and educational conversations can happen, and we can make change. We have to act and go to the source of the issue.”

Caitlin ReitzSenior marketing major Caitlin Reitz appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference. Regarding her participation in the Leading and Succeeding with Strengths workshop, she said, “I learned that my strengths are spirituality, creativity, fairness, curiosity, and appreciation of beauty. After careful consideration of Dr. Gooden’s questions, I found that spirituality has a large impact on my leading style, because it influences me to see power and potential in every single person, which translates into my other leading style of fairness.

“Because I use this aspect of my spirituality to lead, it allows me to see every single person as an equal with the same high potential. I then use this line of thinking to focus on the individual strengths of those I’m leading and empower them whenever possible,” Reitz said. “Curiosity is also an important feature of my leadership style, because I use it to bring the right questions to the attention of my team, which leads to creative ideas and solutions.”

According to Cyndy Strittmatter, associate dean of the Eberly College, long-term Management Department faculty member Charles B. Stevenson and his wife, Sally G. Stevenson, gifted the Eberly College with funds to support leadership activities for students. “We are grateful that we have earnings from this endowment each year to support leadership activities and that Colonel Stevenson and his wife recognized the value of promoting ethical and value-based leadership in business, government, and nonprofit organizations through education and outreach activities. We are pleased to be able provide our future business leaders with this opportunity to explore critical topics of diversity and social justice.”

Eberly College of Business and Information Technology