Students at leadership conference learn importance of involvement
Eight students stood at the front of the room and showed off their dance moves as music blared during the University of Houston-Victoria’s second annual ROAR Leadership Conference.
The dancing was a demonstration keynote speaker Tom Krieglstein used to make a point about leadership through his presentation “Dance Floor Theory.” While some students played off each other and were very involved in the activity, others barely moved. That visual demonstration mirrors how people behave when it comes to getting involved on campus, Krieglstein said.
“Research shows that the more involved you are in campus activities, outside the classroom, the higher your grades, your graduation rate and success after you graduate,” he said. “That all comes from the center of the dance floor. Remember, the action is in the middle.”
The ROAR Leadership Conference took place Saturday in UHV’s University North and University Center buildings. About 60 students from UHV, Victoria College and area high schools spent the day listening to and taking part in presentations led by UHV faculty and staff, and community leaders. Krieglstein and UHV Interim President Vic Morgan were keynote speakers.
Each year, the ROAR Leadership Conference serves as a free opportunity for students who want to be successful leaders. They gain knowledge from current leaders and build on their own skills, said Dawn Savage, a UHV Student Life & Services coordinator.
“This is something that not a lot of universities provide to their students, especially free of charge,” Savage said. “No matter what leadership level students are in, whether they are new, just becoming part of a student organization or leading a student group, they can learn how to develop as a leader on campus, and those skills are transferable after graduation.”
Krieglstein is the CEO of Swift Kick, a student engagement organization that works to get students engaged and building relationships so they can become leaders on campus. During his presentation, Krieglstein emphasized the importance of making personal connections and getting involved.
“So many people spend their college experience going from room, to class, to class, to class and back to their rooms,” Krieglstein said during his presentation as he walked among the students. “This is the time for you to decide who you want to be and what you want to do. Find your place on the dance floor and get involved.”
Krieglstein’s presentation was inspiring to Maya Jackson-Bedford, a sophomore psychology major from San Antonio. In particular, she appreciated his key points about building connections and having plenty of energy.
“I want to get involved and be able to get other people going and excited,” she said. “He made me want to be a leader who can make something happen.”
Morgan’s presentation introduced attendees to the “10 commandments of leadership,” which explain how a person can lead with wisdom and integrity. Some of the commandments are emulate what other leaders do, but don’t try to exactly copy them; treat everyone with respect and dignity; seek advice and input from others but always be responsible for decisions; use common sense; and let go of egos.
“Leadership is about serving others and helping them achieve their goals,” Morgan said. “It’s more a matter of actions than position. People judge themselves based on beliefs, but others judge them by their actions.”
Students also had the opportunity to choose from nine breakout sessions, which offered a smaller group interaction experience, Savage said. The topics included Younique Leadership, Building Champions Through Character, How to Manage Your State While Walking on Fire, Developing Ethical Leadership Skills, What Are Your True Colors?, Managing Time and Leadership in a Global Community. The presentations were by UHV faculty and staff members, including Billy Lagal, Oscar Torres, Michael Wilkinson, Denee Thomas, Beverly Tomek, Eric Camarillo and Kira Mudd. Bret Baldwin, a senior consultant at Straet Global Consulting LLC and member of the UHV President’s Regional Advisory Board, and Krieglstein also presented sessions.
“We wanted to provide multiple options and topics for students to explore in breakout groups,” Savage said. “You never know what level students are coming from and what topics are most interesting or applicable to them.”
For Kenya Wade-Meyer, a sophomore biology major from Pflugerville, the conference was a source of encouragement.
“I wanted to learn about leadership and especially about how to be more outgoing and connect with others,” Wade-Meyer said. “Now I feel so excited and motivated.”
This year’s conference was sponsored by Ashley Furniture HomeStore, AT&T, the City of Victoria, Fastenal, HCSS, Regency Post-Acute Healthcare System and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response from sponsors this year,” Savage said. “UHV is grateful for what these companies are giving to encourage leadership in students.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.