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Georgia students learn to lead at UNG conference

L3 2015
Students from Berry College present their vision, mission and the three goals they plan to take back to their institution after the conclusion of the L3 conference.

More than 70 student leaders from Georgia colleges and universities participated in the fifth annual Leaving a Legacy of Leadership (L3) conference at the University of North Georgia (UNG). The conference is designed to help student leaders improve their leadership skills and advance the mission of their campuses and institutions along the way.

"It is our honor to have some of the best students in Georgia here to strengthen their leadership skills," UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs told the L3 students. "I believe in empowering students to influence their surroundings, and I want you to know that you have tremendous power and opportunities. The skills you have learned here will set you up beautifully for your careers, and your experiences as a student leader will give you the tools and preparation to deal with many situations down the road."

L3 Jacobs
President Jacobs commends L3 students on their initiative.

Designated by the University System of Georgia as a state leadership institution, UNG's mission is focused on preparing students to become leaders in a diverse and global society. The weeklong L3 conference drives personal development, teamwork and ethics, and it encourages students to cultivate individual missions and goals to take back to their institutions. Programming included presentations about the various aspects of leadership and team-building activities, and a day at UNG's Pine Valley Recreation Center, where they worked in groups to maneuver through challenges on the leadership reaction course.

At the end of the conference, the students presented the visions, missions and goals that they intend to implement over the next nine months at their own institutions. Many of the students serve or will serve in executive positions in groups such as student government, activity boards, multicultural organizations, residence life groups, and others.

"This whole event is about developing change agents," said Mimi Fortune, coordinator of student leadership and commuter services at UNG and director for the L3 conference. "Teaching these leadership skills to students will enable them to enact and achieve the goals they have developed for their organizations. If they are able to achieve their three goals within nine months after the end of the conference, we will award them with an L3 medal."

Cylina Velazquez, Brandon Todd and Nathan Wingate of Columbus State University developed goals to help their organizations better connect with and serve students.

"We need to treat our student body less like peers and more like customers," said Velazquez, who is director of the Student Activities Council. "We're looking at implementing a more robust feedback system to ensure we are providing students what they want in their experiences with us."

Wingate, who serves as the public relations director for the Student Activities Council, added that these and other similar measures will also serve to grow the council's brand and credibility and boost student retention.

Joel Pollack, representing the Student Government Association (SGA) at Valdosta State University, said the group wants to strengthen SGA's role as mediator.

"If a situation occurs between a student and faculty member, our SGA acts as an intermediary to help solve the issue," Pollack said. "I want to increase our effectiveness in that role, and one of our goals will be to work with the faculty senate and staff to do so."

Asha Mathis of the University of West Georgia is seeking to brand Women of Diversity as an incorporated campus group, which will enable the organization to expand to other campuses. Fellow student Lacey Watford developed goals to increase student awareness and interaction with athletic events.

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