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Student Conference on Leadership expands to weeklong virtual event

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Cheyenne Chester looks forward to taking part in her fifth Student Conference on Leadership. In this 2019 photo, she works in her role with Supplemental Instruction.

This year's 13th annual Student Conference on Leadership will allow University of North Georgia (UNG) students to participate virtually over a five-day window rather than the traditional full-day Saturday event.

"This gives students more flexibility to be involved with our program," said Mallory Rodriguez, director of student leadership at UNG. "And it allows for more diverse presenters to participate during the week."

Set for Oct. 19-23, the conference is designed to give all UNG students the chance to learn about leadership and grow as leaders while they meet and network with their peers. This year's theme, "Courageous Leadership," will explore how students can continue to be strong leaders during uncertain times. With the dual challenges of COVID-19 and a divisive climate, Rodriguez feels like the conference theme is quite timely.

"It's a really intimidating time to think about leading," Rodriguez said. "Courageous leadership is not the absence of fear. It is leading through fear and realizing this is scary but it helps create the way forward."

Samantha Ramirez-Herrera's keynote address from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 19 will kick off the week's activities. According to her website, she "journeyed with her family to America at the age of 7 in search and pursuit of the American Dream. Although growing up undocumented felt like a nightmare, she refused to be stopped from fulfilling her dreams and inspiring others to do the same."

Jelma Flores-Mota, unified Student Government Association (SGA) president, is especially eager to hear Ramirez-Herrera's keynote talk.

"Her story and the way she had this American Dream and what she had to go through, all the challenges and obstacles, I'm really looking forward to how that's going to inspire us as students and tie into the leadership aspect," Flores-Mota said.

Registrations for the keynote and all breakout sessions are open on the Student Conference on Leadership webpage.  All will be available through links in UNG Connect. Students who attend the keynote session and four breakouts will receive a long-sleeve conference T-shirt.

Flores-Mota, a junior pursuing a degree in political science with a pre-law concentration and a minor in public relations, said the online sessions offer a convenient platform to allow more students to attend.

Breakout sessions are scheduled at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Oct. 20 and 22 and noon and 5 p.m. Oct. 21. Roundtable discussions are open from 2-2:45 p.m. Oct. 20, 21, and 22. A final reflection session and  celebration will be held Oct. 23. More details on the sessions are available in UNG Connect.

Cheyenne Chester will be attending her fifth Student Conference on Leadership and has presented at two of those. Chester, a Supplemental Instruction senior mentor who is pursuing a degree in middle grades education, is a former Cumming SGA president and has taken part in the summer Leaving a Legacy of Leadership (L3) Summit at UNG. She couldn't pass up another a chance to grow these types of skills.

"I love the way UNG focuses on leadership," she said.

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