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Legacy of leadership spreads from UNG

Students work together to complete an obstacle course at the University of North Georgia's Pine Valley complex during the Leaving a Legacy of Leadership (L3) conference. The conference brings student leaders from across the state who seek to polish their leadership skills.

The sixth annual Leaving a Legacy of Leadership (L3) conference at the University of North Georgia (UNG) recently sowed seeds of leadership among 60 students from universities and colleges across the state.

L3 is designed to help student leaders improve their leadership skills and advance the mission of their campuses and institutions along the way.

"UNG is becoming known statewide for its reputation of producing leaders, and this conference is about taking that transformational strength outside our walls to develop legacy leaders — individuals who are mindful about contributing to a cause that serves a purpose and making a difference in our society," said Jemima Fortune, coordinator of student leadership and commuter services at UNG and director for the L3 conference. "These students will be writing the future of Georgia, and this event is an effort to help them make that future as bright as possible."

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 four-day 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 includes presentations about the various aspects of leadership and team-building activities, and a day at UNG's Pine Valley Recreation Center, where groups work together to maneuver through challenges on the leadership reaction course.

At the end of the conference, students present 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 associations (SGA), activity boards, multicultural organizations, and residence life groups.

"UNG is well-versed in and very capable of providing leadership training and opportunities," said Oreva Aki, SGA president for UNG's Dahlonega Campus. "I experienced this summit two years ago, and now, as a peer mentor, I have tried to help the event organizers gain students' perspective in how they can best connect with the material. Seeing peers from other universities develop and build leadership qualities while becoming a cohesive unit is, to me, second in importance only to helping them develop strong goals to take back to their own universities along with the desire to plant those goals and help them take root."

SGA President Teandra Dennis of Middle Georgia State University has a dual purpose in mind for her goals; she wants to enact changes that will serve the student body while using those changes as a platform to boost student involvement with SGA.

"By working for changes such as extending library and dining hall hours and trying to set up a grocery shuttle that will take students who have no transportation shopping for food, I want them to see SGA advocating on their behalf. I think it will lead to higher engagement," Dennis said.

A student group from the Rotaract Club of College of Coastal Georgia also has engagement in mind, but are setting their sights on community as well as the student body.

"Our first goal is to set up more safe spaces that send a message of diverse inclusivity," Eric Seals said. "As we build greater unity among our student body and reach some of the students who aren't as active in campus participation, we can start working toward having a deeper, more positive impact in our community."

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