Student leaders from various organizations on campus will attend the fourth annual Harding Leadership Forum at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion today.
The Student Association (SA) officers and cabinet members, American Studies Institute (ASI) Distinguished Scholars and social club presidents and vice presidents were invited to the event along with other nominated students. Additionally, 12 to 15 faculty staff members will attend to facilitate conversation and serve as mentors.
Senior and ASI president Jasmine Griffin said that she is looking forward to sharing the event with students leading in different capacities.
“The opportunity to be amongst each other and hopefully inspire each other … is really wonderful,” Griffin said. “We’re hoping this can be a spark to those who attend, to not just be leaders in their own groups, but to keep collaborating.”
The evening consists of a four-course meal and a presentation, followed by discussion amongst the students and faculty staff members. All expenses are paid for by SA and ASI.
This year’s speaker is Dave Sanderson, a passenger who was aboard U.S. Airways Flight 1459 when it made an emergency landing on the Hudson River in 2009. As the last passenger to exit the back of the plane, Sanderson risked his life to assist other passengers, and now speaks and writes about the importance of serving others wherever you are.
Kim Kirkman, executive director of ASI, said that she has been trying to bring Sanderson to speak to Harding students for two years.
“Dave Sanderson has a great message that you need to be looking out to help other people,” Kirkman said. “In that moment, he could have just saved himself, but he saw the opportunity to help other people. I’m excited to bring him in.”
Senior Dakota Ellis, president of the SA, said that events such as the leadership forum can help give insight into the lives of others.
“I think events like this have the potential to transform the way you see reality,” Ellis said. “Whenever you hear somebody’s story and you allow it to affect you, then you’re opening up the door to allowing your heart to be transformed a little bit. … The more insight you can get from others, the better equipped you are to lead.”
A second segment of the Harding Leadership Forum will occur later this semester with a Saturday conference. The date has yet to be determined.