Leadership shines under January skies

“True leadership always shines brightest under the darkest skies,” said Frank Cappadocia, director, Student Community & Leadership Development (SC&LD) at SC&LD’s January Leadership Conference on Friday, Jan. 16. The 45 pre-registered students who braved frigid temperatures and the Toronto power outage to attend the conference at York were treated to a full day of programming that included a keynote address, a free lunch and two sets of concurrent breakout sessions.

Left: Students Nicole Azuaga-Gabriel (left) and Genevieve Kang get into the spirit of a leadership exercise during SC&LD’s January Leadership Conference

Known for its stress busting and morale boosting effects, the keynote workshop, titled Laughter Yoga and presented by Wendy Woods, served to get the day going by breaking the ice, energizing students and getting the creative juices flowing. It was well received by students. “It was different from what people are used to experiencing at leadership conferences. It got everyone up on their feet and interacting with one another and it built a sense of community right from the get-go,” said Genevieve Kang, a third-year theatre studies student.

Following the workshop, students could choose from two concurrent breakout sessions. Leadership 101 was presented by Cappadocia, while Dream Building was presented by Ian Crookshank, residence life coordinator, Bethune Residence. In Leadership 101, Cappadocia focused on an introduction to leadership theories, roles and skills. In Dream Building, Crookshank reminded students about the importance of setting goals, reconnecting with one’s imagination and dreaming big. “I actually found the Dream Building session inspirational,” said Kevin Morris, a second-year psychology student. "It made me stop, step back and take a look at my own big picture and re-examine how I want to get where I want to go."

Right: From left, York students Genevieve Kang, Anique Jordan, Nicole Azuaga-Gabriel, Julia DeKay and Alexandra Thorne get to know each other during the January Leadership Conference

In the afternoon, students were again able to choose from two concurrent sessions: Stress Management, presented by Leah State, peer health education coordinator, or Powerful Problem Solving, presented by Jimi Bursaw, residence life coordinator, Pond Road Residence. Both sessions were highly interactive. Stress Management delved into how to manage key stressors in a healthy and positive way. “When stress levels are high and free time is low, it’s important for students to be familiar with practical methods for coping,” explained State. Powerful Problem Solving kept students engaged by examining the power of constructive problem solving and developing individual techniques for maximizing one’s ability to overcome shared difficulties.

Courtney Mallam, York’s new leadership programs assistant, was very pleased with how the conference went. “Leadership is such a huge topic. At this conference we’re really only scratching the surface of what is out there to be studied and learned. The real point is to provide students with an opportunity and to show them some options they may not know about, which I’m happy we were able to do.”

For more information, visit the SC&LD Web site.

Submitted to YFile by SC&LD’s orientation & student experience assistant Michael Kasaboski