Students organize leadership conference

By COLE POTWARDOWSKI

Webextra-Pg04-Leadership conference

Student government leaders Pamela Contreras, Caleb Rhodes and Lorena Contreras initiated the conference.

Pima Community College’s East Campus put leadership into action Feb. 8 with its first student-organized conference.

Caleb Rhodes, student government president, initiated the all-day conference with support from fellow students and from East Campus administrators including Student Life Advisor Constance Strickland.

“I suggested it and they’ve been amazing with going along with it,” Rhodes said.

Nancee Sorenson, vice president of student development at East Campus, was the first speaker. “Leaders are people that do things,” she said.

To solidify her point, the conference recognized representatives from state universities and heard talks by Tucson City Councilwoman Shirley Scott and 2012 PCC graduate Dax W. Crocker.

Scott leads Ward 4, an east Tucson district. She is the driving force behind multiple community projects, including the Clemens Center near East Campus and the current Houghton Road expansion project.

“Leadership is not necessarily inborn,” Scott said. “You already have it.”

Her talk examined her own leadership in everyday life, including her actions on community projects, public gun shows and public versus media opinions.

“The right to vote is the biggest gift you have,” Scott said. “I don’t vote at the press. I vote at the table.”

She advised that a life in public office might not always be saccharine. “You have to be willing to say no to 800 people,” Scott said.

Crocker, a Phi Theta Kappa member and minister at the House of Glory Church, provided candid insight into leadership qualities.

“Be prepared to be lonely,” Crocker said.

After graduating from Pima, Crocker sought further education at an Ivy League college but a scholarship to the University of Arizona altered his plan.

Crocker told the student leaders about conceptualizing a community project to help middle school children with their homework. “The biggest challenge was how to recruit tutors,” he said.

When waving a “recruiters wanted” sign on campus yielded feeble results, Crocker sought help from a UA instructor who referred him to a TUSD superintendent.

Crocker also talked about being selected as the speaker for his graduating class.

“That college degree recognizes your efforts,” Crocker said.

Attendees were briefed on transferability options and career outlets from guest speakers representing UA, University of Arizona South, Arizona State University and University of Maryland University College.

The representatives encouraged students to communicate with university transfer advisors.

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