Motar Board - National College Senior Honor Society

Quo Vadis Chapter Hosts Leadership Conference

By Sarah Grace Smith

In late February, around seventy students attended the free, one-day Third Annual Leadership Conference in University of North Dakota’s education building. At the conference, students learned how to apply leadership skills in their current lives, whether that be through student organizations or community service. 

 After arriving, students were given breakfast and led into an icebreaker activity with David Coleman, the famous dating doctor and 1982 initiate of our Fayetta Paulsen chapter at Bowling Green State University. 

 The students were then put into three breakout groups which rotated through different speakers. David Coleman discussed leadership qualities specific for college students and how they can use them in both student organizations and in their career. The Associate Dean of Students, Cassie Gearhardt, shared the five parts of being a leader in the book The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner: modeling the way, inspiring a vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. Dr. Donald Warne, director of the Indians Into Medicine Program and director of UND’s public health program, shared his story as an American Indian doctor and how his cultural heritage has affected his career. He used the medicine wheel as a way look at different aspects of leadership.

 Lastly, David Coleman gave a speech to all the students as the event’s keynote speaker. He told stories of people who, despite deep, personal struggles, still made time to help others. At the end of his speech, he had everyone stand up. He listed negative actions, like “getting a speeding ticket” or “skipping a class.” If a student had done the action, they would sit down. This went on until there was one person standing. Coleman pointed out that this person was their strongest link. Rather than being only as strong as the weakest link, Coleman believes that a group is as strong as their strongest link, their leader.

Our Quo Vadis chapter hosted this event to promote our ideal of leadership on their campus. In the fall, they host their annual turkey basket drive, feeding 1,200 people in the area. For their spring semester, they wished to have a large event that reached students and promoted Mortar Board on their campus. Three years ago, they decided on this event.

Megan Leffner, the chapter’s Vice president of Leadership, was excited to organize the event this year, after attending the previous two. A junior molecular biology major, she began planning in September of 2019 by contacting speakers. Leading up to the event, she made fliers to post around campus and on student FaceBook pages. Megan was able to have the event promoted in the university’s weekly emails, and professors in leadership studies gave extra credit to students for going. 

After the event, Megan received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. This being her first time planning an event this large, she was delighted it ran so smoothly. She even got one of her main requests to work—a mac and cheese bar for lunch! Hannah Reimer, the chapter’s Vice President of Social Relations and a senior applying to Physician Assistant schools, commented that she had never realized how much work went into planning such events, but that Megan handled it remarkably well. Both Megan and Hannah hope that, through this event, students will see part of what makes Mortar Board unique.