Above: The ACM Student Leadership Summit allowed 26 ACM students to collaborate across member campuses, form relationships and network with peer student leaders, communicate across difference, and learn from alumni and civic leaders.
The Associated Colleges of the Midwest hosted its first-ever ACM Student Leadership Summit, a weekend experiential learning program focused on leadership development, cultural and emotional intelligence, and career preparation.
For 26 students from ACM member institutions, the Chicago-held Summit was an opportunity to collaborate across member campuses, form relationships and network with peer student leaders, communicate across difference, and learn from community leaders across the ACM, Chicago, and the greater Midwest. The project grew out of ACM’s strategic plan and supports the strategic action area Develop and Cultivate Leaders.
“The Summit allowed a unique opportunity to connect with peers across Midwest colleges and engage in solidarity building with young change agents. We were able to engage with a critical curiosity over the weekend that led us to find common issues at our campuses,” said Loyal Terry, a political science and sociology major at Grinnell College.
“Conflicts along race, class, and belonging were especially salient, and for those that found success on their campuses, they shared tips with the cohort. Overall, it was a breath of fresh air being around leaders who were as invested in making their campus lives better,” he added.
Facilitated by Common Purpose, a non-profit organization that runs student leadership programs in 25 countries, the Summit kicked off with a welcome dinner Friday, March 31. ACM President Sonya Malunda welcomed the group with introductory remarks, followed by a keynote address from Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, an alumnus and trustee of Grinnell College and Executive Chairman and Founder of Zing Health. Over dinner, students had the opportunity to talk with alumni from ACM colleges and local leaders about their leadership paths.
The following day, students worked on developing leadership skills, mindsets, tools, and approaches, such as cultural and emotional intelligence, that they can directly apply in their roles on campus. They also engaged in café conversations with city leaders on working across boundaries and in diverse teams to shape change.
“I appreciated the honesty and diversity of these speaker conversations. Having these open one-on-ones, I was able to ask personal questions,” said Elizabeth Guzman, a biology major at Monmouth College who hopes to start a STEM mentorship program for the Latinx community.
“Something that stuck with me was getting told that it is always hard to begin something,” she added. “Hearing this brought me some kind of comfort because I am living my journey right now, and I do struggle. So, it just made me hopeful to see what my future has in store.”
Students also heard from two speakers: Daniel O. Ash, President of the Field Foundation of Illinois, who talked about engaging diverse stakeholders, and Bushra Amiwala, the youngest Muslim elected official in the United States, who spoke on authentic leadership.
“The speakers genuinely changed my approach to public service and instilled a new confidence in me to take a leap of faith and pursue a public-facing position,” said Terry. “Bushra exhibited an energy that was infectious and connected me to resources so that I can begin my own political career sooner than I anticipated.”
“The ACM is grateful to Common Purpose and the alumni and local leaders who made this extraordinary experience possible for our students,” said Malunda. “By supporting students as they build social, cultural, and institutional knowledge, as well as grow their own personal networks, we can help them prepare to be effective leaders as they pursue their unique paths.”