Saturday March 1 marked the date of the Fourth Annual Learners to Leaders Summit. The annual summit is a unique event hosted by the Opus College of Business but targeted to a wide range of future professionals with connections to area colleges, including current juniors and seniors, as well as recent grads. The mission of L2L? To provide high-potential students and young professionals of color with perspective and resources that will position them for success in graduate school and in their careers.
The theme of this year’s summit was “Leadership. Why me? Why now?” The theme was chosen as a reflection of the reality that while everyone is capable of playing a valuable leadership role, it’s all too common to assume that the responsibility of leadership belongs to someone else, based on title, personality, or amount of past experience.
Did this year’s L2L Summit achieve its objective of providing content relevant and valuable to future graduate students from a broad range of backgrounds and interests? Here’s what some of the participants had to say.
The Learners to Leaders Summit was an empowering event and I was inspired by all of the stories of so many different people of color that are currently attending and have completed graduate school. The Summit was very beneficial in helping to shape my plans for life after finishing my undergraduate degree. I am now more motivated than ever to attend graduate school while pursuing a career in computer science.
— Kendra Ware, Augsburg College Class of 2013
The Learners to Leaders Summit was an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and interact with a small group of current and future professionals. Previously, I had not been to an event within college that catered to students of color in this respect and believe the Learners to Leaders Summit is imperative for the development of young professionals and to encourage students of color to continue on to graduate studies by helping them see professionals from similar backgrounds.
— Tamnnet Kidanu, St. Katherine’s Class of 2013 (Public Health, Psychology double major)
Learners to Leaders was more than just a Summit about leadership. It was about empowering young professionals to see the true value in higher education. My two favorite parts of the day were the sample class and the power dynamics discussion. In the sample class with Dr. Ernest Owens, we discussed the different levels of organizational structure and how power dynamics are affected by it. I found this particularly thought provoking because it broke down the different levels of power in an organization. Whether you work in a corporate environment or a non profit, learning these concepts allow you to be a more effective leader.
— Amiri Brotherson, Academic Advisor at Capella University, University of Minnesota Class of 2010
Planning and execution of this event, from the promotional outreach to area colleges, to the development and delivery of the event’s programming, involved connecting and collaborating with resources across multiple departments within St. Thomas as well as with a wide range of area colleges and universities. One of the greatest challenges of the L2L program is “un-niche-ing” it – many people assume that because the Opus College of Business plays the lead role in hosting the event, that its focus is on future MBA students. The truth is that the Learners to Leaders program is very intentionally broad in scope. While the programming is great for future MBAs, the outreach and the program content is specifically designed to engage future graduate students pursuing studies in any field, from the liberal arts, to social work, to law, to business.
Learners to Leaders is a great example of the commitment St. Thomas has to building leadership for the future, leadership that will come in all colors.