By DAVID J. DEL GRANDE
Pima Community College conducted its first-ever leadership symposium Sept. 27, bringing together student organizations from all six campuses to learn what it means to be a leader and how to voice their concerns with the college.
More than 50 students representing student governments, Phi Theta Kappa, veterans groups, adult education and many more attended the symposium at West Campus.
The event was planned by student life coordinators from each campus.
“It isn’t easy getting everyone together like this,” said Grace Fama, student life coordinator at West Campus.
The morning began with a speech from Chancellor Lee Lambert, who shared five tips for being an effective leader. He stressed the importance of character, perspective, teamwork, self-reflection and going outside your comfort zone.
“Everyone is in a position to influence someone else,” Lambert said. “What kind of leader will you be?”
The students then split into breakout sessions and discussed ways to develop their leadership style, increase publicity and social media, enhance recruitment and membership engagement and manage meetings effectively.
Following lunch, the students regrouped and conferred about the best way to strengthen their voice.
“There is power in numbers,” said Colin Lynch, president of student government at Northwest Campus.
The group agreed they need to work together to make themselves heard.
Teresa Perez, an adult education student leader, was most concerned with a smooth transition into higher education for adults who received their general educational development diploma.
“We’re trying to get these adults to not just get a GED but to come here to Pima or the university,” she said.
The student leaders identified their most pressing concerns with PCC and how the college can remedy its issues.
They created a list of more than 20 concerns, which were narrowed by a vote to the five most critical issues.
The final list included advising, class offerings, admissions process, funding student organizations and veteran services. Student leaders were then placed in groups that discussed resolutions.
Chris Meece, Northwest Campus student government vice president, took part in the group that explored student advising.
They discussed the problem of appointments being limited to 20 minutes, the need for a student advising staff and implementing a paper system highlighting what each student wants to focus on with an advisor.
“The advising process needs either a really, really intense tune-up, or a complete overhaul,” Meece said.
The students then reconvened to determine whether the symposium had been a success and if more should be planned.
They agreed that symposiums must happen regularly to be most effective. It was suggested that each Pima campus host a symposium once a semester, and that a governing board representing all campuses be created.
After each gathering, the student board would meet with PCC administrators to provide updates on progress and concerns.
There was request for creation of an online closed forum, to keep student leaders connected between symposiums. Brian Forstall offered to donate Web space.
The day came to close when Fama asked the student leaders, “How does that sound to get us started?”
The room echoed with applause before everyone went their separate ways, ready to take what they learned and apply it to their time at Pima.
“I think it’s a good first step,” Meece said. “I think it’d be an effective way to say, ‘This is what we are getting done on our campuses. How is your campus doing? What can we do to help you?’”