Students can lose sight of their self identity as they become inundated by media and family expectations, an issue Dr. Jason Laker plans to bring to light today as part of the Leadership Lecture Series.
Laker, a counselor education professor at San José State University, will speak at 6 p.m. today in Bennett Auditorium about these issues as well as leadership and gender roles.
The lecture series, hosted by The Academy For Leader Development & Civic Engagement, is free and open to the public.
His lecture, titled “Reflections on Leadership and Gender,” will offer the Baylor community an opportunity to discuss gender, identity and other reflective and relevant topics.
“Dialogue about these issues helps us to understand different stereotypes,” Laker said. “We can figure out which ones we aspire to separate ourselves from and which ones we aspire to do more of.”
Laker has developed and taught courses on identity and community. He is also an award-winning instructor with more than 20 years of consulting experience, academic work and leadership at the university level.
In 2010, Laker was named a Diamond Honoree by the American College Personnel Association for his leadership in the profession.
Laker said college students will find his lecture particularly helpful in understanding and conquering some of the challenges that come with the transition from childhood to adulthood.
This transition, Laker said, comes at a time when students are working to balance messages from family, media and friends about who they are expected to become and roles they should fill.
These messages tend to be in conflict with each other, some diminishing the perception of self while others are uplifting.
“I want to foster a space to look at things thoughtfully without imposing my own opinions on people,” Laker said. “I want to help people examine and question where they want to go in life.”
Laker said the lack of an open discussion about gender roles has led to many problems, including self-esteem issues.
Joshua Donath, a master’s candidate and assistant in the office of Academy For Leader Development & Civic Engagement, said Laker was chosen as the first keynote speaker because of his extensive history and special ability to relate to students.
“There is a large national conversation about the different way gender is influencing leadership,” Donath said. “Dr. Laker’s work in student affairs, higher education and administration means he has a bank of knowledge for our leadership students.”
Though Donath said the lecture series is developed around the interests of students who are part of the Leadership Living-Learning Center, he said these lectures are useful for all students and faculty.
Laker also said his lecture will not be limited to the topic of gender. He said he also plans to have an open dialogue about Christianity and other aspects of diversity.
“I will touch on Christianity hospitality in terms of the wisdom and guidance it offers,” Laker said. “I think a good dialogue about these topics can give people a sense that they matter and help them to offer that to others.”
Donath said future speakers for the Leadership Lecture Series later this semester will include Joel Berg, the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, and Jordan Burnham, a professional public speaker on mental health and suicide.
Those lectures are planned for Oct. 24 and Nov. 19, respectively.