Cardinal Talks Extended allows leaders to shed light on experiences


“If you are a leader, you should never forget that everyone needs encouragement. And everyone who receives it – young or old, successful or less than successful, unknown or famous, is changed by it.”

Sean Gilmore and Laura Gray shared this quote from John C. Maxwell to perfectly summarize the purpose of Cardinal Talks: to equip the future leaders of SVSU.

Modeled after the international forum Tedx, Cardinal Talks Extended was an opportunity for SVSU students, alumni and professors to converse on notable topics such as life lessons and leadership development. The event was held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Thompson Student Activities Room (TSAR) Monday, Nov. 28.

Pat’s catering served a free dinner to all who attended. The speakers included professor of kinesiology Adam Coughlin, SVSU alumni Edward and Yvonne Milton and homecoming king and queen Sean Gilmore and Laura Gray.

Dr. Adam Coughlin has spoken at Cardinal Talks before and was excited to participate again. The SVSU professor took what he had learned about leadership over his lifetime and presented it in his twenty-minute talk. He defined leadership as service, and being willing to give yourself to enrich the lives of those around you. He illustrated this with pictures of a shepherd goading on a herd of elephants from behind. Often, leadership looks like pushing from the back rather than marching in the front, he noted.

“Events like this are important because they allow the audience the opportunity to hear someone else’s perspective,” said Coughlin. “Any new perspective that someone can experience is a positive thing. Getting that perspective boiled down to a short amount of time makes it that much more appealing.”

Edward and Yvonne Milton began with Walt Whitman’s poem “O Captain My Captain,” which was an ode to the leadership strengths of Abraham Lincoln. They then expanded on how strong leadership requires solid relationships, making good choices with the opportunities we have, and deep-rooted character.

The Miltons are SVSU alumni.

“We wanted to speak to you on what we needed to hear at your age,” they said.

Sean Gilmore and Laura Gray talked about the importance of taking action in leadership. “Thoughts do much. Words do more. Actions do much more,” was their mantra. They called upon the leadership skills of William Wallace from “Braveheart” and Leslie Knope from “Parks & Recreation.”
Both resident’s assistants for freshman housing, Gilmore and Gray are highly involved on campus.

“My first and second years on campus I went to every Friday Cardinal Talk that our school offered,” said Gilmore. “I feel that these talks are important for people to attend because of the knowledge and perspective you gain at the end of the day. I opened up and became much more confident in my abilities as a person through these talks and now, with this opportunity, I can hopefully impact students the way others impacted me.”

Cassie Ford, planner and coordinator for Cardinal Talks, said that she wanted to model this after Tedx but with more of an intimate atmosphere. The content of these talks are personal to SVSU. She looks forward to many more future events in years to come.