Earlier this month, a group of senators; Kim Irland, our advisor; and myself attended the semi-annual SUNY Student Assembly Conference in Rochester, NY. As stated on the SUNY SA website, “The Student Assembly of the State University of New York (“SUNY SA”) is an organization comprised of student leaders elected by their peers from across SUNY’s 64 campuses. Empowering students throughout the state, the SUNY SA is committed to student life and ensuring the representation of its members on the state and national level as well as throughout the SUNY system.”
The conference was broken down into a few different tracks, each consisting of several workshops. For instance, there were several workshops devoted to developing leadership and professional skills, as well as workshops for voting delegates ( a voting delegate is a President or any other appointee of the respective student governments). The professional and leadership workshops taught me a lot, not just in terms of how to be a more effective student leader, but also how to be a better person. For example, on the student leader side of things, I attended a workshop that explained how to properly run a Senate meeting, which was really interesting and helpful.
Another workshop I truly enjoyed was one on LGBT Pride. This workshop was the most inspiring workshop I attended. We were each given a star. After picking a star, we had to write down our name, best friend’s name, our dream job, the community we belonged to, and the name of the most influential member of our family. After every question we were asked, depending on which question applied to us, we either had to fold one of the corners or tear a corner off. The main idea of the workshop was to be open to diversity, judge people by who they are not what they are, avoid labeling people, accept different cultures, and to accept who we are regardless of our respective backgrounds and beliefs.
In another workshop I attended, everyone was given a children’s book. The purpose of the workshop was to record, by video, each delegate reading their children’s book. That film would then be sent to different public children’s hospitals throughout NYS to help ill and sick children understand that there is someone out there who cares about them. This workshop was the most memorable out of all the ones I attended. I absolutely loved it and everyone was extremely excited about it! It brought everyone together and the atmosphere was filled with a sense of family and community.
This conference proved to me the reasons why I am a student leader and why I want to become a better leader. It taught me some of the skills and tasks needed to remain a leader and how to strengthen my leadership skills. It helped me understand what is expected from a leader, why is it necessary to look and behave professionally, and, most importantly, it reminded me that the reason why I am a student leader is to help, not solely our student body, but everybody around me achieve their goals and progress in life.