Leadership Conference gives Students Tools to be Leaders

by Belle Johnson

Students had the opportunity to improve their leadership skills and celebrate Black History Month during the Congressman John Robert Lewis Leadership Conference, held by Troy University and the City of Troy. 

The conference included keynote speakers, as well as three session speakers. The theme of the conference was healthy body, mind and community. 

“I think that this was a perfect way to celebrate Black History Month and the remembrance of John Robert Lewis, as well as Lamar P. Higgins,” said Jayden McQueen, a freshman political science major from Crestview, Florida. 

The leadership conference was created in 2002 by Troy University Board of Trustees member Lamar P. Higgins. In 2021, it was renamed the Congressman John Robert Lewis Leadership Conference in remembrance of Lewis, a leader and social activist famous for his bravery during the 1965 Bloody Sunday march for voting rights.

“It was really helpful and informative, and more than anything, inspiring,” said Caleb Reichbaum, a junior interdisciplinary studies major from Enterprise, Alabama. “A lot of us got here because we are already student leaders, but a lot of the messages here are things we don’t hear enough. 

“It’s just been really helpful in terms of thinking about how to get things set so that you can fulfill the needs of the people you lead.”

The conference lasted two days and included presentations from keynote speakers Larry D. Thornton Sr. and Rev. Darryl Caldwell. Thornton is the president and owner of Thornton Enterprises, Inc., as well as an artist and author. Caldwell is a pastor at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Banks, Alabama. 

“Healthy bodies lead to healthy minds,” Caldwell said.. “Healthy minds are more productive. Healthy minds are more impactful. Healthy minds impact healthy communities.

 “All too often in our community, we have individuals who are victims of their own surroundings. They have not been encouraged to embrace a higher way, a better way, a more productive and effective way, and so the message was intended to encourage.”

The  session speakers included Dr. Frankie Leshawn Bell, Dr. Elizabeth Dawson, and Angelene Kendall-Henderson. Each gave a presentation on how to have and maintain and healthy body, mind and community. 

Bell, author of “Choose to Win”. spoke about making the most of life’s struggles and how to overcome them.

“I talked about choosing to win being a decision, talked about life and all the struggles that you go through, that you’ve got to make the decision to win,” Bell said. “Life is hard, but God is faithful, and if you just continue to get up and look up, you can do anything you can imagine.“You can’t have pity parties if you want to be powerful.”

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