The Leadership Summit @ X, great success for invitees
On January 26 and 27, student leaders from StFX, Acadia, Saint Mary’s, and Bishop’s universities came together at The Frank McKenna Center for Leadership for the 4th annual Leadership Summit @ X. This year’s theme: Creating and Seizing Opportunities.
The weekend kicked off with the second annual John C Friel XTalks event, featuring students Annie Sirois, Nicky Barona and Sam Gan, as well as Frank McKenna himself. Nicky opened the event, sharing the story of how she chose StFX and what she’s learned about leadership in starting her clothing business, Authentically Andean. Sam shared his leadership journey through football, and Student’s Union president Annie Sirois spoke to the inequities that exist in leadership positions and why privilege plays a role. After the stage was reset to resemble a living room - fern, rug and all - Frank McKenna spoke candidly with hosts Claire Keenan and Ian Kemp about his leadership roles as former Premier of New Brunswick, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, and a multitude of other positions he has held.
The next day, delegates returned to the McKenna Center to participate in different leadership workshops, including a session on inclusivity in leadership. There, participants took part in a privilege check activity and learned how to practice inclusivity within leadership roles. Another workshop offered was called “ABCD” - the strength based leadership approach. The acronym stands for Asset-Based Community Development, and participants were led through a series of activities where they learned how to practice this approach and listened to each other’s stories to recognize strengths in others. The final workshop, called “How Good Do You Want to Be,” focused on intention and purpose in leadership as well as in life.
After the morning’s sessions, delegates participated in an interactive public speaking workshop with expert public speaker Halina St. James, who taught them how to speak so that people will listen. Her “TalkItOut” approach has been successful for hundreds of world leaders and politicians, and now hopefully for our delegates as well.
The summit was a great experience for all who attended, but I find myself asking if it wasn’t overly exclusive. Delegates were selected by their departments based on recognition for already having presented themselves as leaders, and there was no application process - in fact, anyone who wasn’t sent an invitation would have had no idea that the summit was going on.
The first time I attended a leadership camp was way back in 2013, and going in, I definitely wasn’t the leader I consider myself to be now. Leadership was something that other people did. That camp taught me so many things about myself, and when I left, I had the tools and skills that I needed to start being a leader in my community. It helped me face my fear of public speaking, learn new tactics for working in groups and create a tangible action plan that I could look to as a guide moving forward. Since that camp, I’ve attended a number of other camps and summits, and every time, I’ve learned something new. In my opinion, that opportunity shouldn’t be limited to the “elite” few who have made their names recognizable in leadership already; it should be available to anyone who wants the chance to learn and grow as a leader.