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Board promotes diversity through conference

Jillian Barwick | Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Saint Mary’s Student Diversity Board (SDB) will host its biggest event of the year after spring break when it sponsors the eighth annual Diverse Students’ Leadership Conference (DSLC) on March 19 and 20.

Senior Maddie Meckes, chair of DSLC and vice president of SDB, said the event intends to motivate participants to spark social change.  

“The goal of the conference is to allow participants to enrich their perspectives of the adversities and benefits within diverse academic, social and professional settings,” Meckes said. “Our theme this year is ‘From Awareness to Action: Change Your Mind, Ways & World.’ We want participants to be inspired to become catalysts for change in their communities.”

Meckes has worked with senior co-chair and SDB secretary Jean Osberger to publicize the event, and several hundred students have already signed up to attend.
“We worked with the Career Crossings Office to plan this, and we have five alumnae panelists from the South Bend area attending,” Meckes said.

The keynote addresses will come from a wide range of speakers, Meckes said, each with a different perspective on diversity. The opening speaker, Daisy Hernandez, is co-editor of ‘Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism.’ She will speak at 12 p.m. March 19 in Carroll Auditorium.

“[Hernandez] speaks on equality, feminism, race and politics,” Meckes said. “Derreck Kayongo is our closing keynote speaker on March 20 at 6 p.m. in Carroll Auditorium. He is a refugee from Uganda and founded the Global Soap Project, which recycles used soap from hotels for new soap in third-world countries.”

Kayongo, who was a Top 10 CNN Hero in 2011, will speak about his experiences and how he became a catalyst for change, Meckes said. The keynote speaker for the high school track is Elliott Lewis, a news reporter and law student at the University of Akron. He will discuss biracialism in America and his book “Fade.”

Meckes said the speakers were chosen for this year’s conference because of their backgrounds in social justice and their proven ability to influence change in their communities.

“The goal of DSLC is for participants to recognize the need for change in society and desire to create that change,” she said. “All three keynotes have recognized the need for change and worked, either through their writing or their careers, to make a positive change in the world.”

Osberger said she is especially excited about the speakers because of their ability to connect with the audience.

“I look forward to Daisy Hernandez’s keynote address because … she is charismatic and funny, but her message for feminism and equality is particularly pertinent to our student body,” Osberger said. “We are also honored to host Kayongo who speaks directly to our theme as a key international figure who has innovated positive change in developing countries.”

The live salsa band “La Republica” will provide entertainment for the conference, Osberger said, and there will also be salsa lessons in Dalloway’s Coffeehouse at 7 p.m. on March 20. There also will be an alumnae lunch March 20.

All workshops will be in the conference rooms of the Saint Mary’s Student Center. Registration for DSLC is available on OrgSync and is open to the public. For more information about registration, visit https://orgsync.com/56318/forms/6541