SDO leads a Student Leadership Conference (Credit: Student Development Office).

ENC’s Student Development Office held a Leadership Conference, featuring Eric Clark, former Center for Academic Success Director and ENC alumni.

The event, taking place the weekend of January 12, mainly focused on looking at this year’s motto of “Ohana” and making sure “everyone has a seat at the table.”

Clark challenged students to pick that idea apart by asking them, “What does that table look like?” and “Are there those at the table who don’t have a voice or aren’t heard?”

The conference also helped students determine what aspects a leader has, as well as which of those aspects we see in ourselves. Ultimately, the students determined that a good leader is “people-oriented,” or someone who listens to the voices of those around them, shares in people’s sorrow and joy, and is willing to act on the problems that they see.

“I learned that leadership doesn’t have to look external,” says Sophomore Polly Gomes. “We have to figure out how to make sure all ideas across the board are listened to, not just the loudest and the biggest.”

Junior Josue Basilis feels that the conference taught him about initiative. “We had the analogy of ‘Who’s missing from the table?’ You know who’s missing. You probably don’t know why, but in order for them to sit at the table, you as a leader have to go out and reach for them.”

Clark reminded his audience that being a leader does not mean having all the answers or being right all the time. Failure can be the greatest teacher, not just for leaders, but for everyone.

On the second day of this two-day conference, students divided themselves into three groups geared toward increasing different areas of leadership. One was for “Connecting with God in a Busy Semester,” and another focused on “Finding Your Calling.” The final group centered on “Dealing With the ‘Middle’ Group,” which taught students how to work with those who are neither passionate nor averse to working in a group.

The event was intended to be open to the whole campus, however, advertising techniques seemed to favor students who are viewed as campus leaders—athletes, Resident Assistants or a part of the Student Government Association—as these students received regular email updates about the event.

In the future, Keri Lewis, who organized the event, hopes that more people will partake in this leadership initiative on the ENC campus. “I want to groom the campus as a whole towards leadership,” she says. “A lot of people who are strong leaders on campus aren’t athletes or RAs or a part of SGA.”