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Student Conference on Leadership set for Sept. 28

The 2019 Student Conference on Leadership will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

As University of North Georgia (UNG) students get into a rhythm for the fall semester, they have a chance to learn about the intersection of leadership and self-care at the Student Conference on Leadership.

The 12th annual event will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building on UNG's Gainesville Campus. It is free to attend for students, who can register on UNG Connect.

"When students first start, they are really interested in kicking off their involvement and gaining those core leadership skills," said Mallory Rodriguez, director of student life and leadership programs. "And this is a great way to do that."

This year's theme is "Charting Your Course," and keynote speaker Maria Pascucci is a life coach who emphasizes the aspect of wellness for leaders. She said she hopes to help students abandon perfectionism in favor of a more healthy approach.

"A person cannot effectively lead, serve or inspire others from an empty tank. Every student is a leader, whether by choice or by default. We all serve as role models on and off campus," Pascucci said. "We can lead by example and conscious choice, or we can run the risk of serving as an example of what not to do as a leader when we're running on empty or autopilot from a place of unconscious choice."

In addition to Pascucci's talk, the conference will feature a series of 45-minute breakout sessions for presenters to discuss topics with their audience. Presenters also will lead six to eight students in 20-minute interactive, roundtable discussions. Presenters will include faculty, staff, students, and community members. Proposals for breakout sessions and roundtable discussions will be accepted through Sept. 9.

Selena Chavez-Gomez, a junior from Gainesville, Georgia, is pursuing a degree in criminal justice that includes peace officer standards and training certification for law enforcement as part of UNG's Public Safety Academy. She has participated in the Student Conference on Leadership in the past, and this year she will help plan the event and lead a roundtable discussion.

"The conference does a great job enabling students to be leaders and speak up about their passions," Chavez-Gomez said.

Paul Shorter, a senior from Lawrenceville, Georgia, pursuing a degree in psychology, will attend the conference for the fourth time and is helping plan it for the first time. In addition to the leadership knowledge that naturally comes from the conference, Shorter enjoys the interaction with students from multiple UNG campuses.

"This conference is for all students, no matter where they are in their leadership journey, even if they wouldn't consider themselves leaders," Rodriguez said. "As long as they have a desire to learn about leadership, this is a place for them."

In reference to the "Charting Your Course" theme, Rodriguez knows students will often face rough waters. This conference is meant to be a resource in that regard.

"Leadership can sometimes be a hard place. We want students to know how to keep themselves well in that process," Rodriguez said. "Leadership doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's personal, and it impacts others."

Chavez-Gomez hopes to see many of her fellow students.

"I encourage students to attend because they will leave with new connections, resources and skills that will be relevant throughout their daily lives," Chavez-Gomez said.

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