By Kyndall Fomby-Bell, Staff Writer
November 9, 2023
On Oct. 19-21, 10 of Ouachita’s esteemed student leaders participated in the Arkansas Student Leadership Forum (ASLF) in Little Rock, Arkansas. Students are nominated by faculty and staff to attend the forum each year. This year, Isaac Lawson, Georgia Richards, Will Ross, Brooks Bell, Haley Shourd, Kaelin Clay, Jillian Covington, Caroline Jurkovich, Brock Bivens and Andrew Ellis represented OBU. The ASLF gives student leaders from universities all around Arkansas a chance to learn how they can grow in their servant leadership through Jesus.
Ellis looks back on the forum and remembers the collaborative opportunities he was given.
“Students got to listen to many panel speakers from different fields across Arkansas, and we also got to participate in Q and A’s with the speakers,” Ellis said. “There were breakout sessions of smaller groups of six to seven students with two adults where we got to go more in-depth on topics discussed in earlier panels.”
The ASLF educates students on how their servant leadership can be applied in their university involvement and carried with them after graduation. Ellis, along with many students, is grateful for the skills he gained, especially a newfound relatability.
“The speakers at the forum all had different perspectives and backgrounds, but they all had similar goals in their life and were able to accomplish them,” Ellis said. “Learning about that has made me relate to more people on campus and connect to them in new ways.”
Ellis was also able to create impactful relationships with many of the featured speakers.
“There were people that worked in many different fields at the forum, Ellis said. “I was able to make connections with them, which could potentially help me with job opportunities after graduation.”
The ASLF is a great opportunity for student leaders on campus to hear from speakers that have started in similar places they are in now. Students can see how through servant leadership these people were able to be successful in their fields and make a positive impact on those they serve at work and in life.
Former participants of the ASLF, along with one 2023 participant, were invited to attend the connected National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF), hosted in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 27-29. Jenna Malone, Cabb Batson, Brooklin Pitard and Brock Bivens were nominated to represent Ouachita.
The NSLF was hosted by two congressmen, one republican and one democrat, who are both Christians. Students from across America were invited to spend three days learning methods of growth in their leadership skills through a lens of faith.
Pitard had the opportunity to connect with inspiring leaders through the NSLF.
“There were many keynote speakers that spoke about being a servant leader and how to better take care of yourself while serving others,” Pitard said. “We met Congressman Mann, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and many more powerful leaders. We participated in many breakout groups over the weekend and had several mingling activities such as a late night walk to the capitol, a visit to the natural history museum and even an after hour’s coffee event. There was also a night that we had a host family that made us dinner. The most exciting thing was getting to tour the capital and be on the House floor in Congress.”
The NSLF, like the ASLF, taught student leaders an application method in their servant leadership on their campuses while setting out the time to take care of their well-being in a Christlike manner.
Pitard was inspired to achieve thought-out leadership goals that had previously not been achieved. The forum inspired her to take new steps with discipline.
“I had a lot of goals I never set in motion before the forum, but I came back with a change in my mindset of how important discipline is and how it can make a great change in your life,” Pitard said. “I learned that even leaders have to share their vulnerability with someone. They can’t just ignore their feelings to serve others. A leader shouldn’t be someone that demands respect. A leader is someone that is loving others well with intention and care.”
The NSLF ultimately provided patriotism and deeper connections to God.
“By the end of the weekend I was very proud to live in the U.S.,” Pitard said. “I saw how prominent the Lord was on both political sides, despite their different views and what [conflict] may arise. I witnessed several people in the highest position with the joy of the Lord in their work and in their life.”