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Annual DSLC kicks off

Katie Kohler | Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Diversity will be in focus again as Saint Mary’s kicks off the third annual Diverse Student Leadership Conference (DSLC) today.

The conference is organized by the Student Diversity Board (SDB) and targets area college and high school students. The free three-day workshops will continue through Friday, highlighting the diversity in education at Saint Mary’s and its social and professional impact. The DSLC includes workshops, a diversity showcase, career exposition and keynote addresses.

The mission of the DSLC is “to inform participants of the adversities and benefits within diverse academic, social and professional settings,” SDB vice president and conference organizer Adriana Lopez said.

“As a senior getting ready to graduate, I believe that the main purpose of an education is to learn to become responsible citizens and better professionals in the workforce,” Lopez said. “I think it is very important for students to attend the conference because it provides an opportunity for them to learn about a reality that they are going to encounter in life.”

The conference opens tonight at 7 when Gwendolyn Dungy delivers the first keynote address in the Student Center Lounge. Dungy has been the executive director of the National Association of Student Professional Administrators (NASPA) since 1995 and has more than 30 years of experience in higher education.

Johnnetta Cole, president emeritus of both Spelman and Bennett College for Women – the only two all-black historical colleges for women in the country – will deliver the closing keynote address. She will deliver her lecture – titled “Are Diversity and Inclusion on Your Agenda?” – at 12:30 p.m. Friday in the Little Theater.

The speakers were chosen largely by the input of the students, Lopez said.

“The DSLC committee wanted to know about students’ concerns and bring topics to the conference that they felt needed to be addressed,” she said. “So the speakers were chosen based on their expertise on a specific area, but most importantly, we wanted speakers that can fit the mission of the conference and continue to contribute to social justice.”

Lopez expects a large turnout, thanks to advertising and pre-registration options.

“Our committee in general has done an amazing job of getting the word out, not only to Saint Mary’s, but other campuses around the area as well,” she said. “I think that because this is the third annual DSLC, a lot more people are familiar with it and know that it is a very professional event.”

Lopez hopes this year will be as successful as the first two, and she wants it to show the Saint Mary’s community the daily importance of diversity.

“We live in a world that is so interconnected and part of our job is to figure our how to navigate it and be appreciative of what it is,” she said. “As a Saint Mary’s student I would hope that my school would be able to give me the necessary tools to do that, and the DSLC will do that.”