Webster’s Student Government Association to Host Leadership Conference
January 22, 2021
Webster University’s Student Government Association (SGA) is set to host its first annual St. Louis Youth in Leadership (YIL) Conference on Jan. 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST. The conference was developed as an initiative to encourage, equip, and empower high school student leaders from underserved, underrepresented and/or marginalized backgrounds in the St. Louis area.
These talented young student attendees are exactly who we want to see attend Webster University with their grand vision for leadership and change.
“The major focus was bringing in high school students underrepresented in leadership—whether that be first-gen or low-income students, with the primary focus on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students,” said SGA President Sarah Hill, class of 2022.
"The conference is a virtual program led by Webster student leaders to encourage these high schoolers that not only do they deserve to be in these most prestigious spaces, but that we also need them there," said Hill.
Open to sophomores and juniors, the virtual conference will give students valuable leadership, professional, and personal development skills through interactive sessions with Webster student leaders, who will share their thoughts and leadership insights on topics such as communication, self-advocacy, and the shaping of leadership through personal identity. The conference will also feature Ferguson Mayor Ella Jones as a keynote speaker.
I knew I wanted to make a contribution that consolidates knowledge equity in my community.
According to Hill, there will also be a breakout session where attendees will have the chance to meet each other and will listen to an admissions presentation about Webster scholarship opportunities. “These talented young student attendees are exactly who we want to see attend Webster University with their grand vision for leadership and change,” she said.
The vision for the conference is one that many student leaders share. "As a student of color in a STEM field with low representation, I think about access to mentorship and inclusion a lot," said Jessica Battle, former SGA vice president and YIL conference chair, said. “It was difficult for me to find mentors I could relate to in high school. We knew that other students were struggling with similar issues, especially during the pandemic. Webster has amazing student leaders with so many resources to offer. I’m really excited about this conference because it gives us an opportunity to share those resources with younger students in our community.”
“Very often young people downplay the knowledge we have and feel we can’t take up space to bridge the knowledge gap," said Yatina Katunga. "When I heard the conference was focused on delivering value to young people from marginalized communities, I knew I wanted to make a contribution that consolidates knowledge equity in my community.”
Hill said that the hope in sharing these bits of knowledge and resources that high school students will be able to take what they learned back to their schools to more effectively enact change right where they are.
But that’s not the only goal of the conference. “Ultimately, we want our attendees to see themselves represented in leadership both now and in the future,” said Hill. “This conference addresses a small part of the issue that is empowerment, but fundamental change at every level is necessary to make space for the young people—particularly BIPOC youth—that we need in positions of leadership. This work can’t happen unless all of us are a part of it.”
Students who participate in the conference will also receive a certificate of completion and a conference gift package, will become eligible for $1,000 conference-specific scholarship to Webster, and will be invited to attend further professional development and college readiness sessions each month after the conference. These meetings will be centered around topics such as Network and Resume Building for the Student Leader, Telling your Story: College and Scholarship Essay Writing Tips, and The Scholarship Search: Financing Your Education.