LeaderQuest conference grooms future student leaders

November 14, 2012

Penn State New Kensington is on the verge of getting an infusion of new student leaders. Nine campus students attended a leadership conference, Nov. 9 and 10, and if history repeats itself, most will assume leadership berths on various campus committees and organizations.

LeaderQuest is a two-day event that brings together emerging student leaders from the Penn State campuses in western Pennsylvania -- Beaver, DuBois, Fayette, Greater Allegheny, Shenango and New Kensington. Held at Penn State’s Stone Valley Recreation Area in Huntingdon County, about 17 miles from the University Park campus, the conference’s mission is to foster a culture of new leaders on each participating campus.

“We specifically target students who have yet to hold a leadership position on campus but have fantastic potential to do so in the future,” said Lauren Blum, coordinator of student life at the New Kensington campus.

The conference helps aspiring student leaders develop their dormant skills by recognizing personal values and leadership styles and understanding the importance of multicultural competency. Coupled with increased communication skills and respect for the community, attendees are poised to become the vanguard of campus activities.

A year ago, 12 campus students, including freshmen Kelsie Nury, Bill Staniszewski and Courtney Rockwell, made the 131-mile trip to the inaugural conference. None of them had previously held leadership positions at the campus. Today, all three are deeply involved in extra-curricular activities at the campus and appreciate the opportunities opened for them by the conference experience.

“None of the students was more than a little involved on campus,” said Blum, who holds a master's degree in student affairs from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. “Now they are very much involved and served as orientation leaders for fall orientation. They wanted to attend LeaderQuest again this year.”

After last year’s conference, Nury joined THON, a student-run, University-wide fundraiser that benefits pediatric cancer patients, families and research. She earned the coveted role as a dancer at the marathon event and helped the campus raise $50,437, the second best total in New Kensington history. This year, she oversees the campus’ fundraising effort as the campus’ THON committee chairwoman. She has set an ambitious goal of $55,000.

“I had a fabulous time, learned a lot about being a leader, and it definitely helped me feel confident in stepping up as the THON chair this year,” said Nury, who is studying in the Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management program.

Staniszewski emerged from the conference and landed board positions on two student clubs. He is president of Engineering Club and vice president of Lion Ambassadors, a service organization found on every campus of Penn State. In addition, he is associated with THON and the Campus Activities Board (CAB), which assists the Student Life Office in planning campus events and activities.

“LeaderQuest really helped me to step out of my shell, and now I am involved with a lot of campus organizations,” said Staniszewski, an Electro-mechanical Engineering Technology major. “I learned a lot and made some great friends. I just love doing stuff on campus as much as I can.”

Working with THON seems to be a common denominator for LeaderQuest conferees. Rockwell is on the THON committee and is a member of the Lion Ambassadors. She also serves as marketing chairwoman for CAB.

“I made some really great longtime friends, both from our campus and from other campuses,” said Rockwell, who is majoring in health and human development.

“LeaderQuest also helped me step up this year more confidently.”

For more on clubs and organizations on campus, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/StudentLife/ClubsAndOrganizations/clubs.htm.


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Last Updated November 14, 2012