“It was a life-changing experience.” Ava Torres, a second year student at Central Virginia Community College didn’t mince words in assessing this year’s VCCS Student Leadership Conference.
The event November 15-17 brought together more than 400 students from all 23 colleges in the system for motivational sessions and workshops to boost presentation skills and self-confidence, as well as workshops on some tough issues in society.
Torres, who wants to teach school at the elementary level, was especially moved by what she called a powerful session devoted to breaking down the stereotypes that divide so many Americans.
“I didn’t want to leave,” said Torres. “I could do this again and again and again.”
“Overall, the student attendees are the best representation of our colleges,” said Heather Sorrell, VCCS director of student support services and conference organizer. “Our mission statement is ‘We give everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened’. That core value is realized in the students attending the Student Leadership Conference.”
Virginia Western Community College mechatronics student Kris Collins says the conference boosted his self-confidence and presentation skills. “My boss wants me to go into management,” said Collins, who works and has family responsibilities, like so many of our students. “After the conference, I feel much better speaking to groups. I’ve still got a ways to go before I’m comfortable speaking to hundreds, but I’m getting there. I’d recommend this event to other students, too.”
Participants also were asked to look beyond their own needs and goals.
Through the auspices of Rise Against Hunger, conference attendees packed thousands of meals to be distributed overseas by various humanitarian groups. VCCS student leadership conference participants have packed approximately 175,000 meals for the international organization over the years.
Xenia Diaz, studying early childhood development at Patrick Henry Community College, said the conference opened her eyes to approaching people and problems in new ways. “I learned that everyone is unique; everyone can be successful and everyone deserves the same opportunities. And don’t let fear stand in the way of your success, be fearless because you never know how far you can go.”
Chris Lambert at Lord Fairfax Community College created a video shown at the conference that spotlights the many community service projects organized by students at VCCS colleges around Virginia.
You can check out the video here.