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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Student leaders gather at the Panther Leadership Summit, focus on discourse and dialogue

A+speaker+addresses+attendees+during+the+Panther+Leadership+Summit+on+Saturday.
Kaylee Uribe | Staff Photographer
A speaker addresses attendees during the Panther Leadership Summit on Saturday.

Pitt student leaders gathered on Feb. 3 for the Panther Leadership Summit to discuss the significance of the year’s “Discourse and Dialogue” theme in the broader context of leadership on campus.

The summit kicked off with Therese Pitman, assistant director for leadership development, delivering the opening address to student leaders seated at tables arranged based on their interests.

“To each of every single one of you here, I would like to extend a thank you for showing up today and extending your leadership connection,” Pitman said. “It makes our hearts so happy to watch you come together, and we encourage you to take photos and notes to remember these moments.”

In the welcoming address, Pitman introduced Pitt’s vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, Clyde Pickett, who discussed how experiences with interpersonal conflict impacts how he communicates with people. 

“As leaders in our leadership journey today, I invite you to think about ways you can use discourse and dialogue and ways to make differences on our campus,” Pickett said. 

Pickett shared a story about his relationship with one of his neighbors that taught him the importance of being willing and open to communication and dialogue that can become uncomfortable at times. 

“She taught me how to make a difference when individuals might be entrenched in their ways. If we use the tools of discourse and dialogue to see perspective and to use the change to move agenda and prioritize community,” Pickett said. “As I close today, I encourage you to think about the ways you can use today to empower your perspective.”

After the welcome address, students moved into breakout sessions, where they touched on topics ranging from friendship to personal leadership. Rena Li, a senior communication science and disorders major, said she wanted to learn how to best approach creating safe environments within her organization.

“As president of the Asian Student Alliance, I was trying to initially formulate how to approach this role; knowing that you want to be a good leader and creating a trusting environment,” Li said. “You are learning as you go.”

Students also heard TedTalk presentations from five Pittsburgh community leaders who shared their experience with leading different communities. Students first heard from Max Polec, who has been an executive leadership coach for around 5 years. 

“Every clear plan begins with a strategy. I truly believe that we can be anything we set our minds to, but with that, we cannot be all the things,” Polec said. ”The quickest way to move onto our next success is years and years of hard work. Plans will evolve, and that’s normal — and actually, it’s part of the process.”

In the second TedTalk presentation, students heard from director of VHA Risk Management Natalie Bulger, who talked about “approaching leadership from all directions.”

“12 years ago, I walked into a healthcare organization and I had one staff member that was two years from retirement,” Bulger said. “Six months in, first performance review, I’m flying high. She looks at me and goes, ‘I come in every morning and you don’t even acknowledge me.’”

Bulger said she explained her personal faults and perspectives to her employee, which shook up her confidence and forced her to reassess her consistency as a leader.

Students then heard from Richard Fann II, associate director for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life at Pitt, who remembers being a resident assistant during his time at Pitt on 9/11. Even while waiting to hear from his parents, who both worked in New York City, he still had to comfort and help his residents, something that gave him a sense of purpose in chaos.

“I did not hear from my mother from 8 a.m. to like 5 p.m. that evening,” Fann said. “For me as an RA, I didn’t have to be a hero, I just had to be there.”

Students then heard from the senior director of sales at Kellogg, Christine Dockey, who talked about her experience with negotiating. Lastly, Pittsburgh Builds Bridges Initiative creator Ebtehal Badawi spoke about her experience painting a mural representing different skin colors after her son experienced hate comments. 

“By listening to people, you come to understand them,” Badawi said. “You can’t hate someone you know. This painting represents what we can do when we come together — when we add our brushstroke.”

 

About the Contributor
Emma Hannan, Staff Writer