Students gain leadership skills through summer conference

A photo of a group of 11 Penn State Harrisburg students and staffers, sitting on a stone wall outdoors

Students and staff members from Penn State Harrisburg attended the Summer Leadership Conference in August. Pictured, back row (l-r): Noah Cruz, Julia Hoffmann, Erick Vetovich, Venus Talbot, and Salmaan Bhimji. Front row (l-r): Katherine Thear, Chelsy-Sippora Funebe, Michelle Weber-Colon (assistant director of student engagement), Britni Greenleaf (student engagement coordinator), Deresha Cooper and Tiffaney Simmers.

Credit: Britni Greenleaf

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — A group of Penn State Harrisburg students enhanced their leadership skills by joining nearly 250 of their peers from every Commonwealth Campus at the Summer Leadership Conference.

The three-day conference, held at Penn State Altoona in August, brought together students from around the state to attend training, presentations and workshops aimed at enhancing their leadership, citizenship and networking skills.

“SLC is a great program for student leaders,” said Julia Hoffmann, Penn State Harrisburg’s Student Government Association president, who is majoring in criminal justice. “It gives us the opportunity to network with other Penn State campus’ student leaders and gain leadership skills that we can take back to our organizations to be more effective, intentional and authentic in how we choose to lead.”

Students who attended were Hoffmann, Noah Cruz, Erick Vetovich, Venus Talbot, Salmaan Bhimji, Katherine Thear, Chelsy-Sippora Funebe, Deresha Cooper and Tiffaney Simmers.

Several Penn State Harrisburg staff members, including Todd Clark, senior director of student services, Michelle Weber-Colón, assistant director of student engagement, and Britni Greenleaf, student engagement coordinator, also attended the event to provide staff support. Evan Williams, assistant director for student diversity, equity, and inclusion, gave a keynote presentation for students on inclusive leadership.

“The conference was a wonderful opportunity for students to elevate their leadership skill set by interacting with other students striving for the same goal — to engage our students after a pandemic,” said Weber-Colón, adding that the opportunity to connect with students across Commonwealth Campuses was valuable.

Students studied topics including conflict resolution skills, cultural and inclusive leadership competencies, mentorship and finding life balance. In addition to educational programs, they were able to participate in wellness activities such as journaling and social activities.

“My time at the student leadership conference taught me so much about myself as a leader while connecting me to [students around the commonwealth],” said Simmers, who is majoring in kinesiology. “The connections I made and lessons I learned will serve me after I graduate and my remaining time at Penn State Harrisburg. I encourage all leaders from various organizations, no matter how small, to get connected and come to this type of conference in the future. The memories you make are unbeatable.”