Upcoming student leadership conference aims inspire students to take leadership roles

Graphic courtesy of De Anza College

Graphic courtesy of De Anza College

On March 5, Foothill and De Anza College students will guide students about leadership roles and opportunities in the first district-wide Student Leadership Conference.

Karina Thiagarajan, ICC chairperson at De Anza, suggested the idea of hosting a joint event after reflecting on the difficulties that students have experienced and the work they’ve put in the past year.

“We needed an event where we pass that torch of information from one group to another,” Thiagarajan said. “But also where we recognize the tremendous work that student leaders and programs have been doing to step up during this time.”

Thiagarajan said that the “tremendous value” of hosting the event with Foothill comes from the extra resources, including classes and leadership opportunities.

There will be a total of six panels ranging in topics from mental health, marketing, finance, equity, leadership styles and organization.

Ananya Bapat, 19, DASB Chair of Legislative Affairs, will moderate the panel on mental health. She said she has prioritized mental health because looking after yourself is vital, especially during this time.

“This conference, to me, shows the value of community,” Bapat said. “Because without all these wonderful student leaders that are going to be presenting, or the moderators or panelists, … this conference would not have happened.”

This community may inspire personal change.

“Our hope is that students in any session would leave with some sense of ‘that’s something I want to try,’ or shifts in perspective,” said Martiza Arreola, student activities specialist with the Office of College Life at De Anza.

Arreola said she hopes students are able to involve themselves in conversations of leadership and discover what leadership looks like for them.

To help achieve this, attendees will be provided a leadership journal created in collaboration with De Anza’s Inter Club Council, Office of College Life and Mentors@De Anza.

The journal contains descriptions of leadership styles, inspirational quotes, descriptions of De Anza and Foothill programs and prompts for students to reflect on their role as a leader.

“There’s a whole bunch of programs that we’ve been working with closely and then some of them who are our partners in this event,” Thiagarajan said. “They do wonderful things on campus — they have the capacity to lead.”

Arreola said she encourages more students to get involved in this leadership because their perspectives matter.

“DASB and ICC are really doing a lot of self reflection on how we can show our structures aren’t creating barriers” Arreola said. “I want to encourage students to really truly imagine the impact that they could have by bringing their perspective.”

The conference will be giving out 12 awards (six for each college) and faculty and staff shoutouts. Students are eligible to nominate other students as well as themselves.

“I want this long-term to be a prestigious award to win,” Thiagarajan said “It’s another one you can add to your resume. It’s another one that you can really be proud of.”

Award nominations for the conference are open until March 3. It will take place from 3:30-6:30 p.m. on March 5.