Thursday, August 30, 2012
Five OU students attend national youth leadership conferenceBy Katie Land, news editor
|OU students Virginia Burton, Charla Holt, Antionette Henry, Maria Kiriazis, and David Mells attended the YALT conference in Cincinnati this summer.
For five Oakland University students, issues in social justice and leadership were at the forefront of the summer.
The students recently attended the Youth Advocate Leadership Training (YALT) conference in Cincinnati. The event is an offshoot of a national conference by the Children’s Defense Fund, and is designed to build strong and effective young leaders throughout the country.
The OU students Antoinette Henry, Virginia Burton, Charla Holt, Maria Kiriazis, and David Mells, are all student leaders who were recommended to the conference by faculty and staff members.
“This conference was important because we received so, so much information that we are now able to bring back to Oakland,” Henry said. “When we teach and learn new things, the people we share them with do the same, and it creates a cycle of teaching and learning that spreads far beyond us.”
Over the course of several days, the students participated in panel and group discussions relating to prison reform, education disparity, the No Child Left Behind policy, and social injustice issues involving race, class, gender, sexual orientation and social status.
The students discussed new ideas to initiate change at Oakland, some of which they plan to implement in the fall semester. First on the docket is a volunteer opportunity to help get student registered to vote and to encourage voting in the upcoming presidential election.
Henry plans to take her experiences at the conferences beyond the university as well. Scheduled to graduate this December with a degree in political science, she hopes to find a job in city government and apply for a Master’s of Public Administration degree the following fall.
The YALT conference provided a unique opportunity to meet and build connections with young leaders from across the nation, according to Henry.
“It was incredible to meet with people from all over and learn about their ideas and experiences that are different from mine,” she continued. “Meeting with people from different places and backgrounds is how people change their minds and have new ideas back home.”