SUU’s QUEST Conference Exposes Young Students to Leadership

Published: July 08, 2015 | Author: Thomas Ybarra | Read Time: 2 minutes

Student leadership conference hosted at SUUHigh School student leaders from all over Utah, Nevada and Arizona had the opportunity throughout June to experience Southern Utah University’s campus and learn from SUU’s own student leaders and faculty on principles of leadership through its annual Quest Leadership Conference.

Headed by staff director Jessica Burr and student directors Austin Dennis and Tori Lopez, this year’s Quest Conference held a variety of workshops for students ranging from experiential learning, leadership skills and the different types of leadership, and challenging oneself and vulnerability.

Each workshop is uniquely designed by the presenter and Burr said of the speakers, “We look for good presenters who are reliable and possess leadership experience.”

When organizing the conference workshops Burr, Dennis, and Lopez looked for diversity and genuine educational experiences.

Of all presentations, one of the most popular workshops among students was the  “What is Your Spirit Animal?” workshop headed by Gavin Grover, a nutrition major and SUU presidential ambassador from San Diego, Calif.

Students were asked to take personality tests and then based upon their answers rank themselves among the owl, koala, peacock, and lion. Each animal or “spirit animal” came with a list of qualities they each represented and overtly the students ranked upon them possessed as well.

Using students’ strengths and weaknesses based off the personality test and one’s self-awareness, Grover and the students discussed ways their strengths and weaknesses could be used to become a better leader.

“It’s important to know our personality so we know how we would react in a situation and whether our behavior should be changed to benefit the situation as a whole,” says one high school participant who among his classmates was an upcoming senior class president at his high school.

While most workshops were held in a classroom setting almost all incorporated an experiential and hands on activity. Some even took to the outside and physicality approach to learning, like the workshop held at Southern Utah University’s rope course.

Asked to use their leadership skills to guide their fellow classmates along the challenge rope courses, students had to successfully cross the finish line with no classmates left behind. The workshop challenged students’ listening, leadership, and teamwork abilities.

“These workshops are designed to help young leaders understand that there are different forms and ways to be a leader,” Burr stated.

SUU has hosted the Quest Leadership Conference for 12 years and Dennis hopes that the continued organized and well-oiled conference can encourage the event to continue to grow and to get SUU on the potential student’s radar.

“Students and their counselors are not only exposed to the amazing campus, leaders, and experiences of Southern Utah University but are also being provided with an amazing learning opportunity and service,” says Burr. “We want to show students that their leadership experiences began with us and that this is where they want to be.”

The Quest Leadership Conference hopes to leave these young leaders with new ideas, bonds, and new learned strengths in their organization to positively improve their high school schools.

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