We can't wait to meet you

Schedule a visit Apply to Lyon


Lyon College's annual LEAD conference inspires the next generation of leaders

Lyon College was home to almost 40 high school students Tuesday, Nov. 8, as attendees made their way to campus for this year’s LEAD conference. This year’s conference welcomed sophomore and junior students from Batesville, Southside, Cave City, Cedar Ridge, and Highland.

Hosted by Lyon College’s Mortar Board, LEAD helps area high school students get a sneak peek into college life and explore the meaning of leadership.

The College’s Mortar Board adviser and Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Irosha Nawarathne described LEAD as a conference aimed at evaluating, reflecting on, and inspiring leadership qualities in younger students.

Nawarathne said, “I find it an invaluable opportunity for a high school student to be able to interact with students, faculty, and administrative staff in the LEAD conference setting. They learn leadership from the best people on campus, especially the Mortar Board members who are exceptional in every way and quite relatable to young minds.” 

Mortar Board member Destiny Sharp said her favorite part of LEAD is seeing bright high school students from all over the area gather at Lyon College.

Sharp said, “I think the value in LEAD isn’t so much in the lessons on how to be a leader, but the understanding that leadership is shown in many different ways.”

Sophomore Blain Inman of Southside High School said, “LEAD is really insightful. I’ve really enjoyed being here and listening to people that are active in these kinds of things.”

Executive Director of Institutional Affairs and LEAD speaker Kristi Price said, “We want to start laying a seedbed in your life about what a good leader is. What is a leader? How do you know a good leader from a bad one? These are the questions we want to help answer.”

This year’s conference had six faculty keynote speakers, a message from Lyon College President Dr. Melissa P. Taverner, an address from Provost and Dean of Faculty Dr. Anthony Grafton, and even a Mortar Board member panel with a Q&A session for attendees.

Mortar Board member Nikkolette Perkins said, “We had a wide range of campus leaders discuss their leadership abilities and how the high school students can apply that to their present and future leadership plans.”

She continued, “My favorite part was seeing the students take notes and be engaged.”

Executive Director of TRIO programs Dr. Branndii Peterson used her personal journey through college to highlight the importance of leading oneself and how it’s important to start on a strong foot when you start becoming independent.

She said, “Being somebody on the forefront, being a leader, means you may miss out on some things. But in the end, you are setting yourself up for success with a good starting foundation.”

Professor of Art Dustyn Bork spoke about learning to accept changes at a manageable pace rather than expecting major changes overnight. He used the example of, “getting up an hour earlier than normal,” to highlight how even small steps toward a goal are steps nonetheless.

“Say you want to get up an hour earlier in the morning. It can be hard to make that change overnight. Instead, wake up 10 minutes earlier each day. You still meet your goal within a week, and it’s a much more reasonable goal to accomplish,” said Bork.

Junior Clarissa Cordell from Batesville High School said, “I’m excited to be able to bring back what I’ve learned today to my school and get an early start on some of the things we talked about.”

LEAD ended with a fun game of human-battleship in which two teams made up of participating high school students were pitted against one another in a human-sized game of Battleship.

Nawarathne said, “Mortar Board, and the LEAD Committee, went above and beyond this year to put this event together. I think they deserve an especially big shout out this year!”