The 7th annual Power in Diversity Leadership Conference, January 28-31, 2016, offered opportunities for personal growth and leadership development to college students of color and underrepresented students through a variety of workshops, keynote addresses and programs. This year’s theme, Intersectionality In Action, provided a framework for conversations that explored power, privilege, discrimination, and systems of oppression as they relate to the numerous identities an individual or group may claim or relate to.

Keynote speakers were Steve Birdine, Ted Robinson, Hoan Do, Harvey Katz and Sandra Kim. “There was a variety of breakout sessions that had speakers that shared general ideas,”   FGI Scholar, Maria Antonieta  mentioned.” We were able to go deeper into our own personal areas of interest. I felt really blessed because there were a lot of topics that interested me, for example there was a workshop on cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation. I tend to pull from different cultures and implement that in my lifestyle by recognizing the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation. I got to listen to other people’s  strategies and their perspective that helped me grow as a person in order to better understand the world that I live in and how to interact with others.”

Conference attendees learned from leadership activities that assisted in the development and enhancement of their own skills to successfully navigate through college and into the workforce and to be a support for other students as well. Tatiana said, “I think it was a great opportunity to attend this conference.” “The speakers talked about the different situations that minorities would go through in life.” FGI Scholar and human services major. Paola  mentioned, “One thing I learned from this event is that diversity is not about minorities and race,  it is about life and taking action by talking to others about diverse equality.”

It also provided a forum for students leaders to connect with other from colleges and universities across the region. Advisors, faculty and staff who work with student leaders also had a chance to network and share ideas and strategies. ” I think the big takeaway from the power in diversity conference was to have a voice and not be afraid to use it,” according to Jen Heredina, FGI Literacy Specialist. “At my workshop,we  practiced confidence and building skills by implementing self-reflection techniques to figure out what is important to you versus being told what is important.”

As a result of the conference, students at  SMUMN and Winona State university are collaborating on activities and planning programs for students of color at both universities.

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