Leadership summit strengthens students

The first Launch Leadership Summit took place Friday as about 150 student leaders from across campus gathered in the lounge at Collins Residence Hall to discuss leading their organizations with intention.

“The idea of Launch was just leadership development and incorporating Christ in all we were doing, and hoping to continue to further Baylor’s mission statement through that,” said Baylor’s student body president Pearson Brown.

Launch featured a prayer from Baylor Chaplain Burt Burleson and an address from Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr. Speeches were given by Baylor alumnus Dillon Meek, a Waco city councilman, and Round Rock senior Kirk Teal, the president of Baylor’s chapter of the NAACP.

The students in attendance were broken into small discussion groups between speeches to share their thoughts and ideas. There was also an opportunity to attend breakout sessions in larger groups to address motivating membership, Christ in the organization, event planning, relations with alumni and what makes each organization unique.

“The intent of the event was to create a sense of community with one another and encourage people to talk to one another that never would have talked to one another,” said Connor Hillard, Brown’s chief of staff. “How can we approach problems differently? How can we make our organizations better in ways that we would never have even considered?”

Before giving his speech, Teal was able to participate with his peers in the discussions and workshops.

“It was fun actually,” Teal said. “We definitely get to hear perspectives that we otherwise would not … It’s eye-opening just to see how they think of things versus how I think of things.”

Emily Huang, a member of Brown’s cabinet, said he came to her with the idea for the leadership summit over the summer and she fell in love with it. She said student government wouldn’t have been able to put the event together unless student leaders were interested, and the student leaders wouldn’t have been able to meet if student government hadn’t planned the summit.

“I’m so thankful that people came so that it could actually happen,” Huang said. “I feel like we did a good job, but we also have to credit the campus leaders for being so willing to participate.”

She said even on a Friday afternoon after a week of midterms, many of the participants stayed the entire time and took advantage of the opportunity to network.

“We were super pleased with it, and just the amount of students that came out and how hungry they were to work, and just how willing they were to put themselves out there, knowing that they wouldn’t be sitting with their friends and that they’d be meeting other incredible students that they might have never had the opportunity to meet,” Brown said.

Teal said the atmosphere was very relaxed and inviting.

“I only heard good things, even after I left my group,” Teal said. “Most everyone had positive reactions and found the small groups rewarding.”

At the end of the summit, there were sign-up sheets for organizational leaders interested in things like mixers with different clubs than they usually collaborate with or committing to pray for another organization throughout the year.

“Looking forward, the objective is to have people who don’t normally work together working together,” Teal said. “We already have a diverse campus … but you want the integration of people working together.”

Huang said student government’s work isn’t over, since they will now be working on following through with the interests and relationships started on those sign-up sheets. She said there is already talk of a leadership summit for next semester.

Hillard delivered a “call to action” speech at the end of the summit. He said he realizes how important it will be to act on the ideas and continue an open channel of dialogue between leaders so Friday’s event does not become pointless.

“Friday’s event was to kick things off. Now is where the real work gets done, to really bring the campus community together,” Hillard said.