The latter factor is a key component of an Iowa youth leadership conference that encourages teens to include higher education in their postsecondary plans.
The day-long event — held last month at Mount Mercy University (IA) — was supported by a $900 grant from NACAC’s Imagine Fund. The conference is aimed at students who have traditionally been underserved by America’s colleges and universities.
“Underrepresented students can face a lot of negative messages about their place in education, particularly higher education,” said the University of Iowa’s Lauren Garcia, who helped coordinate the conference. “We want to present a different message, and in doing so, allow students to build leadership skills that can help them succeed.”
The L.E.A.P. (Leading & Excelling, Academically & Professionally) Conference — organized by the Inclusion, Access, and Success Committee of the Iowa ACAC — served 75 students from across the state.
Attendees started their day by reflecting on their goals. Later, they got the chance to talk openly about how various aspects of identity, such as race, class, and gender, can combine to influence how an individual views the world and how they are treated by others.
Attendees also explored the value of college, practiced networking skills, and learned about budgeting. Keynote speaker and NACAC member Quinton Clay, who serves as associate director of admissions at Cornell University (NY), urged attendees to recognize the potential within themselves and look for ways to develop it further.
“We want students to be equipped with the knowledge and information they need to not only be successful in high school, but to prepare them for the world outside of high school,” said Garcia, assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Enrichment at the University of Iowa. “If they can determine early on what it is that motivates them, they can start to work toward their goals.”
Donate Now: Imagine Fund grants offer financial support to individuals or NACAC affiliates. Funds are used to support professional development, as well as innovative programs serving students and/or the profession.
Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.