By Samantha Borawski
On Jan. 24-26, 2014, Saint Mary’s University students attended the Power in Diversity and Leadership Conference. St. Cloud State University and the school’s office of Multiculturalism and Inclusion host the conference. The conference helps develop personal growth and leadership for students of color and underrepresented students through workshops, keynote speakers, and programs. SMU has attended three out of the five years since the inception of the conference.
“This conference offers a powerful and unique opportunity for students who do attend a predominantly Caucasian institution, to experience a variety of cultures, activities, and ideas to bring back to their respective campuses” said senior Keotta House.
The theme this year of the conference was: “Today’s Vision: Tomorrow’s Reality.” There were a variety of keynote speakers ranging in ethnicity, race, and sexuality, including Laverne Cox, the star of the hit Netflix TV show “Orange is the New Black.”
“I liked the keynote speakers because they were powerful and had experiences that related to everyone” said junior Mae Yang. “A message I took away from the speakers was that you have to know yourself before you can lead.”
Sophomore Taylor Lehmann expressed the same sentiments that everyone is a leader. Her favorite part was seeing different cultures come together during the conference.
Senior Miles Dunna quoted a phrase that Laverne Cox said at the conference, “I am not one thing and neither are you.”
This was also Keotta’s favorite lesson from this year’s conference. “Do not let people put you into one layer. Be who you are and all of your layers.”