By Emilee Webb, News Section Editor
March 8, 2023
The Arkansas Student Leadership Forum, or ASLF, was held in Little Rock, AR on Feb. 23-25, 2023. The forum, which hosts college students from all over the state, has a mission of building up future leaders and, in turn, having a positive effect on colleges, communities and the state as a whole. The Arkansas Student Leadership Forum’s mission, as stated on their website, reads, “Our hope is to study the servant leadership model of Jesus and learn how to live it out. The Arkansas Student Leadership Forum provides an opportunity for leaders on college campuses to examine the life of Jesus from a different perspective. Jesus is often viewed strictly as a religious figure, but there are a host of leadership principles that can be gleaned from his life and teachings.”
Ouachita was very well-represented, with a total of ten attendees. The students chosen to attend were Cabb Batson, Isabella Bejarano, Carter Collins, Isaac Crow, Allie Graves, Wyatt House, Jenna Malone, Brooklin Pitard, Julia Shands and Joey Whisenhunt. All of these students were nominated by someone on campus because they currently serve in a leadership role or have significant leadership potential. All of Ouachita’s attendees finished the weekend with new ideas, fresh perspectives and fun memories.
Malone, a freshman biology major, had many key takeaways from her time at ASLF. Malone explained that the structure of the forum was intentional and played a key role in participants’ time at the event.
“The Arkansas Students Leadership Forum is an opportunity to learn how to lead by teaching you how to follow the footsteps of the greatest leader of all, Jesus,” Malone said. “You also get the chance to be mentored by prominent community leaders and join together with your peers while learning how to lead a better future. This event consisted of deep conversations and thoughts introduced by large general sessions and discussed in smaller, more intimate group settings.”
The topics discussed made a big impact on all of the participants. Junior elementary education major Bejarano speaks on what was significant about ASLF to her.
“I learned that the leadership principles of Jesus are so applicable to today’s leadership,” Bejarano said. “We can be good leaders by being humble and others-focused, seeing every person we lead as a unique individual with a special story and things to contribute and spending the time needed to get to know them and serve them. I was encouraged to see how many people in our state leadership and influential positions are true followers of Jesus, who lead by using His principles and who were willing to give up some of their time to encourage us as future leaders.”
Although ASLF only lasted one weekend, the knowledge and practical skills that students were given will stay with them for much longer. Bejarano emphasizes that she will take all that she learned back with her to Ouachita’s campus.
“One of my biggest takeaways that I will be applying to my time at Ouachita is making sure to appreciate and give thanks to everyone I work with and lead,” Bejarano said. “Spending time in gratitude and awareness for the hard work that people put in is one of the best ways to make people feel seen.”
Whisenhunt, a junior finance and business entrepreneurship double major, explained how his leadership role on campus will be directly impacted by ASLF.
“I serve as special events chair for the Ouachita Student Foundation, so I am leading a group of about 40Tiger Tunes directors toward making the best Tiger Tunes shows possible and raising money for student scholarships,” Whisenhunt said. “I will use these leadership takeaways by leading this group of directors from all over campus through the process of creating a Tiger Tunes show and really being a servant to them in every way that I can.”
Whisenhunt also expressed his gratitude to the university for allowing Ouachita students to attend and to all of the people that made ASLF possible. He spotlights not only ASLF’s impact on Ouachita’s campus in the present, but its impact on the future workplaces, homes and communities of participants as well.
“I think it’s great for students in these key leadership roles on campus to have these experiences to learn how to lead better,” Whisenhunt said. “We went to this event and then came back to Ouachita, where we are currently serving in these leadership roles. We have already been able to use and will continue to use the things we learned, as well as, take them with us to be a leader out in the world after our time at Ouachita as well.”