Canisius prepares to host National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference

By Justin Smith
Assistant News Editor

Canisius College will host the 19th annual National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference from June 25 to June 28. It is the second time the college will host the event and the first time since 2003. According to the official Facebook page for the event, the conference “is designed for student leaders to prepare for their leadership positions with other students.” A different Jesuit university hosts and chooses the theme for the event each year.

The college’s bid to host NJSLC  in 2013, when Alex Valvo, current Conference Experience Co-Chair, and former Undergraduate Student Association Executive Board Officers Anthony Kroese and Anne Continetti went to the conference at Santa Clara University in California. While there, Valvo said he decided he really wanted the conference to be at Canisius, and began working on the bid—a revision of a previous, unsuccessful bid—which won the school the opportunity to host this year’s conference. Valvo attributed the success of the bid to the school’s professionalism.

“It was a solid bid to begin with,” said Valvo.

Megan Cook, fellow Conference Experience Co-Chair, said there were three things which pushed the bid over the top: the theme, the goal to have all 28 Jesuit Conferences attend, and the strength of the community.

The theme, “Be the Light,” was produced by Continetti and Kroese. They came up with it in 2012 when writing the original bid.

“[W]e wanted to come up with a theme that gave a nod to the Jesuit mission and values,” said Continetti, “particularly the phrase ‘Go forth and set the world on fire.’”

As for the second strength, the goal of having all 28 Jesuits institutions attend, Cook said this is rare, largely due to the financial stress under which some of the schools find themselves.

“[Having all 28 universities attend] hasn’t happened in a really long time,” said Cook.

Community support also proved integral, according to organizers. Valvo said that various letters of support, including one from the Buffalo Sabres, helped to seal the deal.

Valvo and Cook both emphasized the importance of the event’s success. As a smaller-sized school, Canisius can often be somewhat forgotten at these conferences. Valvo and Cook told stories about Canisius’s name being mispronounced, and even misspelled at last year’s conference.  Having this year’s event be a success, however, they feel will put Canisius on the map.

“It will actually make people realize we exist,” said Valvo.

Cook also said that she hoped some of Canisius’s culture—how we work, how we support each other, and how we function as a student body—can be on display for the visiting universities.

Valvo said they are still in the logistics phase of planning the event, but “the big stuff is done.”

“It’s all going to ramp up after … Griff Fest,” said Valvo. “We can all start focusing on the nitty-gritty  of the conference.”

Things such as contracts, publicity, and registration are done or in progress, while signage, promotion and food are remain pending action items. They admit there is a lot left to do, but know that with two months until the conference, they have time to complete everything.

Valvo and Cook agreed that they expect approximately 350 people to attend, but that that number will be more solidified as more schools register. Thus far, eight schools have registered, but they say this is normal and expect a “big boost” by the end of the month.

Cook says that, although nothing is finalized, they expect to make full use of the various campus buildings for the event, including heavy use of Science Hall and the dining hall.

Although certain aspects of the event have already begun to be planned—speakers, a casino night, an excursion to Niagara Falls—a “big part” of it is leadership conferences, which have not yet been decided upon. Students attending the conference can submit proposals for leadership conference topics, and by early June, the best proposals will be selected and utilized.

“Everyone has something to say … something to share, something to learn,” she said.

 

 

 

 

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