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Black Student Association shares conference experiences

For the first time, members of Lyon College’s Black Student Association (BSA) attended the Southwestern Black Student Leadership Conference.

BSA members Chave Zackery, Jalen Patton and Dimir Leftwich shared their experiences with Lyon College’s Student Government Association (SGA) on Feb. 7. Over 800 students from across the globe attended the conference. While it focused on black student leaders, Patton said many of the lessons in leadership and cross-cultural communication can be used by any student organization.

“The ideas we learned can help any person trying to make it through college,” he said. “Even though some of our clubs on campus are small and focused on minorities, we can still function like some of the bigger organizations.”

Leftwich said he enjoyed participating in a workshop where students shared the challenges they face on campus.

“We discussed the struggles we go through as students while trying to reach our aspirations,” he said. “We found that we’re all trying to get a degree so we can get to those goals we all have.”

Patton said another workshop focused on preparing students for life after college.

“We talked about how to function without being under a strict regimen like you are at school,” he said. “We still have to figure out the actual life part and how to do certain things on our own.”

Zackery said it was great to be around other black students who were connecting and having fun while learning.

“It was an experience I would recommend to anyone.”

Dean Lai-Monté Hunter said the conference also had an advisor track. The advisors talked about the issues that impact students on campus, such as academics and mental health, and how to better serve students.

“I also enjoyed seeing the camaraderie that existed between the four students who went.”

Since this was the first time a delegation from Lyon attended the conference, Hunter said, the students were willing to take a risk by participating in this new experience. 

“I watched these students represent Lyon in a way I had not seen them do before in terms of their abilities to network.”

He continued, “One of the great things about going to a conference is you bond with your peers. That has translated to BSA since we’ve gotten back. They’re on fire.”

Junior Hayley Cormican, SGA president, asked the club members if they would recommend that SGA continues to fund trips to the leadership conference. The students agreed that it was impactful for all of them and they would like other BSA members to have the chance to attend.

“We’re looking forward to returning,” Hunter said.