LAUNCH takes leadership to new heights

Photo credit: Sophie Toledano

At the debut of the LAUNCH Leadership Summit, a new Student Government mentorship initiative, seasoned campus leaders shared their paths to success with fellow students, sparking an inspiring dialogue on what it means to be an effective leader in one’s personal and professional life.

“This summit can turn people who feel like they were just a number or a nobody into somebody,” Niles Niseem, student government president, said.

The summit, designed by members of the First-Year Leadership Council and the student government, is designed to promote underclassmen to get involved in leadership around campus.

The summit took place on Sunday, Feb. 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Shalala Student Center.

The day began with a lecture from vice president of student affairs, Pat Whitely, who talked about the crucial role student leadership has played in building up the university.

Students also heard from Dean Ryan Holmes, who delivered a talk on what it takes to succeed in one’s day-to-day life.

“Success isn’t an event, it’s a lifestyle,” Holmes said. “If you want to be successful, you have to do it every day.”

Between sessions, students were broken off into smaller groups and rotated between five different break-out sessions.

Sam Palmer Shields from The Launchpad taught students about intrapreneurship or how to act as an entrepreneur within a company.

Niseem informed students on how to build their own brand and implored them to ask themselves three questions: “Who am I? Why am I? How did I get here?” Niseem used these questions to give himself a sense of purpose at a time when he felt like he had none and hopes students will too.

Andres Concha, senior, external advisor to the SG president and founder of the Leaders of Tomorrow Initiative, also shared his leadership experience at the event, speaking to students about how to develop meaningful business relationships and conflict resolution skills.

For instance, one of the key qualities Concha believes is the most important in a business relationship is the most obvious: to be kind.

“People like nice people,” Concha said. “People want to listen to you and help you if they like you.”

Students also heard from the chair of Hurricane Productions and the Student Activities Fee Allocation Committee. These organizations equipped students with the ability to fund and market their clubs.

In the eyes of those who set up the event, it was a success. Garret Eusinhurth, a freshman and member of the First-Year Leadership Council who helped put together the event, was excited about the turnout and engagement.

“Everyone here has been super engaged and asking great questions,” said Eusinhurth. “I think we are all improving just by being here today.”

Those attending the event weren’t just younger students. Ryan Braun, a senior at UM, transferred two years ago and hasn’t held any leadership role during his time at UM. He said the summit taught him skills he probably would have never learned without a leadership role.

“For people like me, learning about leadership is something that is very important because being a leader is one of the most important things for developing yourself,” said Braun. “This summit has helped me better understand how to become the leader I want to be.”