Are Student Leadership Conferences Worth Attending?

Words: Caroline Chu

You open your mailbox, which contains an official-looking letter with an gold seal. Upon opening the letter, you find out that you’ve been invited to a leadership conference held at a prestigious university. You’re enticed by the offer, but aren’t sure whether or not you should go. After all, many of these programs come with a large price tag.

Sophomore Jisoo Choi attended the Hugh O’Brian Maryland Leadership Conference over Memorial Day weekend. The conference costs about 400 dollars to attend, but Choi says that all of the expenses were covered by the school, local corporations, and organizations, and that she believes “the experience was more than worth the money.”

“The conference definitely boosted my confidence so that I could feel more comfortable in public speaking roles, and also gave me new insight and viewpoints to a lot of the social issues that were addressed in the keynote speakers’ presentations and group discussions” Choi said.

Choi describes the time spent with the rest of her student group and its facilitators as “intellectually stimulating” and “memorable.” She recommends the conference to any upcoming sophomores. “It’s a truly eye-opening and life-changing experience, and it puts leadership in context while making it easier to start influencing a change in the world” Choi adds.

Julie Wang, a sophomore at Centennial High School, attended the Girl Up leadership summit last July, which is open to students aged 12-22 years old. Agreeing with Choi in regards to the cost, in the hundred dollar range in the case of the Girl Up leadership summit, Wang says her conference was “worth every penny!”

Wang describes the conference as the “highlight of [her] summer,” and says she was able to network and gain self-confidence, which allowed her to start a Girl Up chapter at Centennial High School.

To Wang, a highlight of the conference was when the First Lady, Michelle Obama, who Wang calls a “gender equality champion,” spoke to conference attendees. Her favorite part of the conference was visiting Capitol Hill to lobby Congress about providing quality education for girls and boys living in refugee camps.

Wang says she would “definitely recommend the conference to any individual who is interested in gender equality, international issues, global development, or any sort of social issues that affects youth.”

Are student leadership conferences worth attending? Jisoo Choi and Julie Wang seem to think so.

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