People attach varying definitions to the word “leadership.” However, 16 Christopher Newport University students who attended the 14th Annual International Leadership Association (ILA) Conference  in Denver, Colo., could thoroughly explain what leadership means. The October 2012 event, with the theme “Leadership Across the Great Divides: Bridging Cultures, Contexts and Complexities,” allowed them to interact with other college students through roundtable talks, poster presentations and case-study competitions.
Among those students who participated in a roundtable presentation was Kelsey Stiles who, alongside two other CNU students, presented on the topic “Shaping the Culture of Undergraduate Leadership Programs: Does the Selection Process Matter?” Their work addressed the implications of the student selection process on program culture with an emphasis on the characteristics and expectations of millennial generation students.

One message that particularly impressed Stiles was reflection and renewal. “When one of the speakers discussed renewal, I knew that was something people often forget about, especially in the fast-paced realm of college,” she says.

The annual Student Case Competition enabled undergraduate and graduate teams to further their leadership development  through a two-round competition. Vying for the $1,000 grand prize, students collaborated to develop a case analysis. Among the competitors was CNU’s Courtney Duran who found the overall experience rewarding. “Aside from the formal conference sessions, my favorite part of the trip was talking with professors and entrepreneurs from around the world about their experiences in leadership studies and positions. I met a group of young female social entrepreneurs who had strength, passion and courage to pursue their dreams and were at the conference to better themselves," she says.

As a result, Duran envisioned how she might chart her own career path as she gained valuable advice from those who have made their own businesses a success. She notes, "The ILA conference is an awesome experience, especially as a young leadership scholar. All of the adults in the room want to hear your voice and ideas and empower you."