This article was written by Jamie Offerdahl, a contributing author at The Concordian.
Fuel the Fire’s winter leadership conference took place Jan. 21. Two hundred seventy registered students attended this LeadNow event along with 46 alumni and four keynote speakers, who are also Concordia graduates.
The purpose of Fuel the Fire and LeadNow is to provide a chance to learn leadership development skills and find out about upcoming leadership opportunities. Throughout the day, students attended sessions of their choosing which included communication styles, crucial conversations, sessions on identity crisis, showing your true colors and many more.
Senior Vanessa Dolge led a mini session on learning styles along with five other America Reads lead tutors. Dolge believes that these LeadNow sessions are a great opportunity that students should take advantage of.
“They’re extremely interactive and engaging,” Dolge said. “Fuel the Fire is a chance for students not only to learn how they can be leaders, but also to learn from Concordia alumni about their own leadership experiences.”
Students were able to talk with one of the 46 alumni that attended over lunch, choosing to sit with the alumnus or alumna that is currently in a field that the student is interested in.
In previous years only one or two keynote speakers would attend and do a half-hour presentation, but this year the format was switched completely. Four leaders from the Fargo-Moorhead community attended and were asked to share some of their own leadership stories during a panel. These speakers included Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks General Manager Josh Buchholz ‘96, United Way’s Marketing Director Kristina Hein ‘06, Moorhead Public Service’s Water Plant Supervisor Kris Knutson ‘03 and Scheels’ Vice President of Finance Michelle Killoran ‘01.
The LeadNow staff and street team put in many hours promoting and preparing for this event. This year’s theme was, “Life is not linear,” meaning that everyone makes choices, meets people, and has new ideas that lead them down paths that they never imagined they would be on, so your journey as a leader doesn’t have to follow a straight line either.
Sophomore Mario Luna decided to join the street team after attending the conference last year and really enjoying it. “My favorite session was ‘exploring yourself and others,’” Luna said. “Your group stands in a ‘box’ and then you step into the box if this or that has happened in your life. People really opened up and had experienced a lot of the same situations and problems and we found that we were fine with sharing this. LeadNow really brought that out.”
By attending these LeadNow sessions, students can earn three leadership certificates that can enhance the work they do inside the classroom, as they get involved on campus and after graduation. The three certificates are Personal Perspectives, Group Perspectives and Global Perspectives. Specific requirements for each vary, but all include a combination of leadership sessions, service projects, and experiences outside the classroom. The final step to receiving these certificates is to meet with an assigned faculty leader mentor to discuss what you’ve learned.
Sophomore Kirsten Hoaby, a Fuel the Fire volunteer, encourages students to sign up for these events in the future. “There are sessions about communication styles or having a crucial conversation with somebody,” Hoaby said. “So you’re learning about transferable skills that you can use in the activities you’re involved in, any sort of leadership positions, future careers, so I think the sessions are really valuable.”