iLead Summit is a conference-style program intended to connect students and student leaders while promoting collaborative efforts and developing leadership skills. It is also an opportunity to build lifelong relationships. The summit is held every fall and is open to all students. Last week there was a multitude of events taking place for iLead Summit, both virtual and in person. Since COVID, this was the first time they have been able to partially hold the event in person. This year’s theme was Still I Rise, based on Maya Angelou’s famous poem.
Assistant Director of Multicultural Development Initiatives, Travell Oakes, oversaw the summit while it was being student lead. Senior Director Jalen Townsend and Junior Assistant Director Madison Welch have been planning iLead Summit since this past summer along with T.O. They had to put together a theme and even pick a keynote speaker. Everything ran smoothly and due to their previous participation in iLead Summit, Maddie and Jalen were able to understand how to make the program work. Like with anything there are challenges, but the outcome made everything worth it.
“I think the biggest challenge was not getting drained by Saturday,” Maddie said. “With meetings, last-minute changes, edits, run-throughs, iLEAD Week, and just making sure everything, everyone, and every part were ready to go, on top of my normal everyday activities, it was easy to feel drained.
Students learned many skills throughout the week and during the conference that was held on Saturday to wrap up the week. There was so much diversity throughout the program. New students and old came together to share in a mutually benefiting summit. Students had the ability to learn communication skills and confidence alongside cross-cultural influences and working in a team environment.
“I loved the summit because I got to meet future leaders and hear why they are doing what they do and why they chose to be part of iLEAD,” FGCU freshman Paola Vazquez-Salvati said. “I also enjoyed hearing the different parts of leadership and tips that people give for being a great leader.
Even though some students’ schedules conflicted with attending the sessions, they still made it a point to attend the conference on Saturday. Many students that took part in this year’s conference said that they would 100% recommend it to others.
“I would say that while it is certainly a demanding day chock full of events, one will leave the event having gained much knowledge in terms of interpersonal skills and general leadership skills that one could apply to a variety of situations one might come across in life,” FGCU sophomore Maxym Fairall said.
There were a handful of guest speakers at the conference from both on and off-campus. Some speakers from campus included Dean of Students Dr. Christopher Blakely, Assistant Dean of Students Sherrelle Findley, and graduate students like Ostin Justice-Young. The primary guest speaker for the large conference was Lee County school board member Gynetta Gittens.
Students enjoyed themselves, connected with their peers, and still got an opportunity to learn about skills that can help them in the future, such as creating a short spiel about themselves called the “Elevator pitch.” The conference was summed up with a reading of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise by Maddie Welch, in addition to a rendition of her own version of the piece.
If you do participate in the future, come with an open mind, respect and be willing to try new things/get out of your comfort zone,” Welch said.