On September 23rd, UC Merced held their annual Leadership Conference. Countless of our fellow students attended the conference to see several professional speakers and their presentations in hopes to learn new and effective ways to become powerful, efficient leaders.

This year, the keynote speaker was Frank Cornelius Kitchen: a husband, father, entrepreneur, professional speaker, and author. His presentation, “Think Big Lead Fresh,” delivers his philosophy on challenging people to be difference-makers and life-challengers. In the presentation, he states, “No matter how big your dream is, it’s possible” and gives the audience a sort of recipe to help make their dreams reality. This “recipe,” as Kitchen calls it, is denoted by the acronym “F.R.E.S.H.”. He claims for you to achieve your dream you must be focused, resourceful, enthusiastic, strong, and honest, or as he said it, “live F.R.E.S.H.”

In addition to the keynote speaker, students were able to choose their own extensive training program or “track” with another speaker. I had the privilege to attend the track, “Improvise your way to Success,” with Lisa Safran, who was also the closing keynote to the conference. Safran used unusual, entertaining, and interactive improv activities to teach the audience. Natalie Gutierrez, a student who attended the track said,

“I think that these activities all kind of really show that no matter what we are faced with there’s always some way to deal with it and because it is improv we are being thrown in all these different situations, so we are trying to think quickly we’re trying to make the best of what we have and deal with it.”

The conference, overall, was a delight. David Baez, a student at UC Merced, adds that  “Overall, I thought it was a good experience, I was able to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people, and learn through activities”. The Leadership Conference was an experience filled with opportunity.


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