Annual Summit gives Xavierites the keys to become strong leaders

By Skylar Stephens

The Student Government Association’s Vice President, Adrian A. Thornton II, hosted the 2022 Leadership Summit on Sept. 9. Student organization leaders on Xavier’s campus came out to the University Center Ballroom to attend the event that introduced students to key leadership concepts and gave them the opportunity to meet one another.

“I wanted to create a program to encourage, motivate and push our leaders on campus to look deeper below the surface to determine what type of leader and person they truly want to be. I wanted those in attendance to enter into a space that allowed them the possibility of learning more about themselves and the Xavierites around them,” Thornton said.

This event is held every year to bring student leaders together. It is a requirement in order for registered student organizations to get funding for the academic year. The event opened with a speech from Dr. Reynold Verret, Xavier’s president, and was followed by words from Mr. Curtis Wright, the vice president of Student Affairs. The leaders played ice breaker games like a rock-paper-scissors championship that promoted team building and support amongst the students. However, one of the most influential parts of the evening was getting to hear from the keynote speaker, Dr. Derek Greenfield.

Student leaders participate in a rock-paper-scissors championship

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes progress,” Greenfield said.

Greenfield came into the event ready to challenge all the things that the students thought they knew about leadership. Along with teaching the students that practice does not indeed make perfect, Greenfield taught the students that mental health needs to be made a priority, even for leaders. Greenfield had the attendees send anonymous messages containing events that had a huge impact on their life to reveal that even leaders deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Following this, he built a safe space by filling the air with words of encouragement.

“His approach disarmed many of us and allowed us to rethink what being in a leadership role means,” said Leah Clark, president of the National Association of Black Journalists Xavier chapter.

Dr. Derek Greenfield talks to the student leaders on Xavier’s campus about the key concepts of leadership and mental health

The next and last activity that Greenfield planned for the night was to have students tell one another how they are appreciated and about the impact that they had on each other’s lives. The night allowed for leaders to recognize each other in a more personal manner and feel seen as more than just their role in their organization. This event was just the first day of a two-part event. Participants said the leadership training had a strong impact on how they will develop a stronger campus environment over this academic year.

“A goal is to promote and build a happier, stronger, healthier, and safer learning environment for students from every walk of life,” Thornton said.

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