Student leadership conference offers diverse speakers and student interaction

Caitlyn Dieckmann 

cdieckma@uccs.edu 

     UCCSlead has taken over the annual student leadership conference for the first time this year, giving it the theme of “Rising through Falling,” with several anticipated speakers. The event is free to attend for all students and will take place Saturday, Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in both in-person and virtual formats.  

     According to Cody Parish, UCCSlead and Chancellor’s Leadership Class coordinator, breakout sessions during the conference will also be livestreamed from Berger Hall, along with the keynote speaker. Other breakout sessions will take place in other rooms around the UC.  

     The keynote speaker this year is María Inés Flores, a motivational coach and former Olympic gymnast. Flores represented Guatemala in the 1988 Seoul Games.  

     “She has had an incredibly successful career as both a professional athlete and businessperson, and we know students will find her journey inspiring and thought-provoking,” Parish said. 

     Although Flores is highly anticipated, Parish explained that all the speakers have leadership stories from various perspectives. “I’m genuinely excited to hear all of them speak,” he said. 

     Parish explained that speakers at the conference are a diverse pool of individuals from both the UCCS and Colorado Springs communities. 

     “When organizing this conference, we were seeking speakers who would not only deliver interactive presentations but engaging stories, and I think students who attend will see that reflected in the presentations,” he added. 

     All in-person attendees will get to choose which breakout sessions they attend and will receive breakfast and lunch. 

     “We will have breakout sessions led by undergraduate and graduate UCCS students, by UCCS faculty and staff, and by business and military leaders in the community,” Parish said.  

     As for the topics covered, Parish said, “Sessions will cover a wide range of leadership topics, from overcoming imposter syndrome to resiliency to leading inclusively all the way to lessons learned from leading the U.S. naval response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.” 

     He said, “After hearing our speakers, we believe attendees will leave this year’s conference inspired and motivated to reflect upon, improve and practice their leadership in their daily lives.” 

     Attendees of the conference can also look forward to interactive content in the breakout sessions. Students will have opportunities to ask questions and engage in discussion with the speakers.  

     Parish added, “There will also be an interactive activity during the lunch portion that will facilitate students’ deeper reflection on what we can learn from failure. This activity will be facilitated by Aidan Rooney, a current UCCS undergraduate student.” 

     UCCSlead faced some challenges in putting together the conference, particularly the shortened timeline, according to Parish.  

     “UCCSlead didn’t receive oversight of the student leadership conference until the end of the summer, and a critical component of this conference’s coordination is the student planning committee,” he said. 

     The student committee was not able to meet until the first week of classes, which gave UCCSlead a little over two months to organize the conference.  

     “Under normal circumstances, we would’ve had nine months to a year for planning, so it’s been a challenge to streamline preparations this year, especially given that it’s our first year hosting the event,” Parish said.  

     Registration for this event closed Nov. 1; however, any students who still want to attend can reach out to Parish at his email, cparish@uccs.edu.