By Rory Noble
Portland State University hosted the 23rd annual Northwest Student Leadership Conference beginning March 1, 2013. Almost 500 students from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Canada attended the three-day event.
Eleven EOU students participated in the event, including group leader Le Alexander. Also in attendance were ASEOU President Tim Binford, Ikaika Brennan, Zed Deenik, Tommy Hill, Eric Martin, Rukshana Mirzoarikova, Leona Ndabvonga, Rory Noble, Kodi Riebling, and Brittany Thibodeau.
This year’s theme, “Our Issues, Our Voice, Our Fight,” drew attention to issues concerning many students including tuition, campus participation and building relationships between diverse campus groups.
Through the learning outcomes of the workshops, students learned methods to help their voices be heard and to provide skills to draw interested parties together to work towards a common goal.
100 workshops offered information following six different learning tracks or objectives: student issues, community service and activism, social justice, leadership development, advocacy and organizing.
Caucus space was available each session for groups to use as an open discussion forum, networking, and brainstorming.
The focus in most workshops centered on individuals interested in student government, campaigning and campus leadership. However, many workshops presented useful information for those in other leadership positions as well.
Tommy Hill said, “It was a fantastic opportunity to be able to take part in. I learned how to organize and run events and effectively manage a staff. I look forward to hopefully attending next year’s conference and advise anyone looking to be a leader to attend this event.”
Friday evening, Eliseo Medina, International Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union spoke. Medina used personal experience in his speech to show how anyone, even a young Mexican immigrant, could set and achieve goals.
Saturday afternoon, Lane Community College President Mary Spilde addressed the gathering, weaving her experience as an immigrant from Ireland into her presentation. A long-time educator, Spilde offered her thoughts on what makes a good leader.
Saturday evening, Oregon state Representative Jessica Vega Pederson took the podium as the final speaker of the conference. Vega is the first Latina ever elected to the Oregon State House of Representatives. Vega’s focus was on achieving goals through passion, focus, and hard work.
The Oregon Students of Color Coalition celebrated their 15th anniversary with an after-dinner reception on Saturday. The coalition was first formed at the NWSLC in 1997 and has since become one of the most influential post-secondary advocacy groups in Oregon.
Brittany Thibodeau summed up the conference by saying, “The conference was an invaluable experience that provided insight for student leaders in many areas of student involvement. We had a great time in Portland! I look forward to utilizing some of the gained expertise of “emotivation” with my ESE staff group and peers. I am grateful for these types of opportunities to attend conferences that build on my professional skills.”