Kassidy Weemhoff | Life & Times Co-Editor
With a plethora of speakers that tackled subjects such as social justice, feminism and homosexuality from the perspective of a Christian leadership standpoint, Taylor's annual National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) offered opportunities for students to engage through keynote speeches, breakout groups and panels.
From Friday, Feb. 23 to Saturday, Feb. 24, students gathered throughout the LaRita Boren Campus Center and Rediger Auditorium to hear insight from eight different speakers. Sarah Bessey, Micah Bournes, Alan Briggs, Austin Channing Brown, Jesse Eubanks, Nicole Baker Fulgham, Matthew Franklin Jones and Kim Phipps each graced the stage.
Since 1982, Taylor has held the conference, each year bringing in a group of influential speakers in hopes of challenging student leaders in perspectives and assumptions that impact aspects of their leadership.
"We live in a unique climate, and the way we lead well is by staying curious and relevant by engaging with these conversations head on," said Leadership Programs cabinet member and junior Carissa Zaffiro. "I think the conference certainly accomplished that, as well as gave students tangible ways to lead now and in the future."
Generally, planning for NSLC begins the May prior to the school year. President of Leadership Programs senior Sarah Manko along with Sara Bretz, one of the graduate assistants within the Taylor Student Organization, had worked since last spring, over the summer and throughout the school year alongside the Leadership Programs cabinet to plan the conference.
"The purpose of NSLC is to create a safe space for leaders to confront and discuss issues facing our world from
a Christ-centered, (biblical) framework," Manko said.
The theme for the conference this year was "Gather," which the cabinet's web page described as "bringing many different people together - to share ideas, questions, and stories that provoke thought, challenge assumptions, and encourage us to grow as Christ followers and leaders in our spheres of influence."
Zaffiro said the conference was successful in bringing forth diverse topics in a communicable, intentional way. Students were able to have open discussion with one another and ask specific questions to speakers in the times apart from keynotes speeches.
Junior and cabinet member Lydia Mooney said that the speakers did a great job engaging with students and being willing to interact in an open, thoughtful way with hard topics.
"There was so much beauty, love and intersectionality between speakers as they talked not of social justice, but of the triumph of good over evil and the beauty that comes from self care and centering yourself in God's love and your own history," Zaffiro said.