SRU students discuss collaboration at Florida retreat


student at student leadership retreat

Autumn Smith, a sophomore theatre major from Upper Darby; Dallas Kline, a junior sport management major from Spring Grove; and Victoria Davis, a senior English literature major from Pittsburgh, listen to a presentation in the career development office at the University of Central Florida. The trio was among 14 SRU students who attended a student leadership retreat in Florida.

May 31, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Each year when newly elected leaders of the Slippery Rock Student Government Association meet off campus after the academic year, the executive board huddles to discuss a game plan for the year ahead. The first order of business this year was to invite student leaders from outside the SGA to participate in the planning.

Seven members of the SGA executive board, along with seven leaders of other student organizations and committees, met in Florida, May 15-19, as part of a student leadership retreat organized through Slippery Rock University's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership.

"They wanted to expand the leadership to more students on campus and start building relationships with other student organizations," said Lauren Moran, director of student leadership and involvement, who attended the retreat along with Keshia Booker, assistant director of multicultural affairs in the Office for Inclusive Excellence. "Part of leadership is building relationships. This was also a time for them to have fun together and create friendships."

The two major goals of the retreat were to strengthen relationships between student leaders and also to "break the huddle" with action items and goals for the coming academic year. Areas of focus, according to Moran, were finding ways for organizations to establish more "authentic collaboration" by supporting each other's events through combining resources and efforts and getting other organizations involved at the start of event planning.

Students from the Black Action Society, the Student Union for Multicultural Affairs, the Social Justice Committee and RockOUT, the student lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally organization at SRU, attended the retreat.

"We talked a lot about social identity and social justice and how that is important as a student leader," Moran said. "Being able to walk away having a better understanding of each other, what their organizations do and what their purpose is was really positive as well."

The student leaders spent two days at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and two days at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. They had the opportunity to meet with student leaders and staff at Embry-Riddle and UCF, tour their facilities and meet with SRU alumni, including UCF Assistant Director of Career Development Shauna Strickler, a 2009 SRU alumna with a master's degree in student affairs in higher education.

Additionally, the students met with SRU alumni Jack Lensky, '91, and Matan Cohen, '14, account executives with the NBA's Orlando Magic who gave the group a tour of the team's arena, the Amway Center.

"They recognized the importance of lifelong engagement with the University and networking with alumni," Moran added. "That was an exciting piece of it as well."

Overall, the new structure to the student leadership retreat was a well-received and a rousing success, Moran said.

"The outcomes far exceeded our expectations," Moran said. "A lot of them walked in as strangers the first day and they walked away as friends. They were really excited about developing and strengthening the collaboration between all of their organizations."

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