Rockhurst welcomed to the State Capitol for Missouri Governor’s Student Leadership Forum

Attendees of the 2019 Missouri Governor’s Leadership Forum

Students represented Rockhurst University at the 32nd Annual Missouri Governor’s Student Leadership Forum. This forum, held Jan. 9-11, convened in Jefferson City and welcomed students from college campuses across the state.

The itinerary for the forum was jam-packed with guest speakers, coffee breaks, small group time and formal events. Some of the guest speakers included Gov. Mike Parson, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and Sherriff Vernon Betts of St. Louis.

MOGSLF began in 1986 with the purpose of developing leadership skills in students from diverse backgrounds. This forum emphasizes servant leadership and looks to leaders such as Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa and others for lessons on service.

The theme for this year’s forum was “faith and values.” The first speaker was Gregory Lemos who encouraged students to look at Jesus not from a religious standpoint, but from a leadership perspective. She noted how Jesus knew himself, his friends and his mission, and she asked the students if they could say the same of themselves. For Lemos, this self-awareness was important because “we lead from who we are and not who we think we should be.”

With this thought lingering in the air, students were divided by gender into small groups. These groups would become like families throughout the forum.

Rockhurst senior David Dempsey said, “I loved the small group structure of getting to know eight other guys from other Missouri colleges and universities.”

In these groups, participants were encouraged to share positive and negative experiences that shaped their identities as students and leaders. They were also given the chance to assess their leadership styles and mentalities and offer constructive criticism to one another.

“It’s so eye-opening when you’re vulnerable about yourself; you realize just how much more alike you are than you ever anticipated,” Dempsey said.

Beyond self-development, students brainstormed on how they could improve campus life. One topic Dempsey discussed with the student president of Truman State University was mental health awareness on campus.

“I enjoyed the ability to brainstorm with him and share ideas that might help his campus. The leadership team [of] Rockhurst[‘s] Active Minds was one great resource I was able to reference for him to reach out to,” Dempsey said.

On the first night, students had the special opportunity to attend the Governor’s Inaugural Ball at the Capitol. After all distinguished guests had been announced, the rotunda was filled with the sound of music and laughter as people danced late into the night.

For those who were not too keen on dancing, they had the chance to network with representatives, senators and other officials. Dempsey took advantage of this time by meeting with his state senator’s chief of staff and discussing ways to best serve the public. They discussed the importance of public service stemming from the grassroots and the need to be motivated by social justice.

On the second day, students were just as busy. They attended the Governor’s prayer breakfast, visited the Jefferson City Correctional Center and spent time with their small groups in homes across the capital.

One of the top experiences for the students came on the last day when they were welcomed into Governor Parson’s office. There, he shared part of his story of becoming governor and emphasized his need to depend on God. He then encouraged students to continue leading on their campuses and to build upon what they had learned. After his speech, a group photo was taken, and some students took individual photos with the governor.

Attendees felt that MOGSLF was a great opportunity for them to build lasting friendships with other student leaders across the state.

Dempsey put it this way: “As we all know, Rockhurst is the place ‘Where Leaders Learn.’ We recognize that leadership is important and that it requires a community. MOGSLF represents an opportunity to expand that community.”

Veronica Clay is a staff writer for The Sentinel. She also attended MOGSLF as one of Rockhurst’s student leaders.


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