Cardinals share leadership lessons

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SVSU’s semesterly Cardinal Talks Extended event was hosted in the Alumni Lounge on Tuesday, Feb. 20, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Modeled after the popular TED Talks series, this semester’s Cardinal Talks Extended once again offered an opportunity for students to learn valuable life and leadership lessons from various speakers.

This round of Cardinal Talks featured four different speaker sessions: Mikaela Ashton and Mitch Kennedy, Joseph Jaksa, Katrina Murrell and Frank Sanders.

The event was free for students and included a catered dinner.

Ashton and Kennedy were the Homecoming King and Queen for the 2017-2018 school year and have both been heavily involved at SVSU throughout their education. They discussed the leadership lessons they learned through programs and organizations such as Cardinal Business Edge, Forever Red and Foundations Scholars.

They also have been influenced by the Ted Talks they have seen online.

“I just recently watched (a Ted Talk) in my organizational behavior class about motivation in the job force, and that was really interesting,” Ashton said. “I also attended the last Cardinal Talks Extended, and it was a cool opportunity to hear different leadership lessons. I love motivational speakers … it’s my favorite part of every conference.”

Winning Homecoming King and Queen was ultimately a lesson in leadership and service for both of them. They were both incredulous that they won because of all the great candidates, but they believed their marketing strategies were what set them apart. They passed out M&Ms (for “Mitch & Mikaela”), brought a dog to campus and messaged SVSU students individually.

“I think our main push was direct messaging on social media. … I ended up getting blocked from Facebook Messenger for a couple days because they thought it was spam,” Kennedy said. “What I learned about leadership through this was being able to get out of my comfort zone. I’m a pretty introverted person, but during that week, I learned how to introduce myself to random people. If I see someone sitting by themselves, now I go and talk to them.”

Joseph Jaksa is both the coordinator of the Masters of Public Administration Program and a criminal justice professor at SVSU. He currently resides in the same office that President Don Bachand held when he was a criminal justice professor.

Jaksa often uses Ted Talks as aids for his graduate classes, especially talks that focus on leadership, stress and ethics.

“Any traits that they can take away, how to make an ethical decision, how to stand up and be a leader that represents their organization and themselves well, that will serve them well as they continue with their careers,” Jaksa said.

Katrina Murrell is the Assistant Director of the Office of Admissions at SVSU. She earned both her undergraduate and her graduate degree from SVSU. In her talk, she discussed how she encourages students to stay motivated throughout their education.

“One of the things I’ve always advised students to do is to take initiative,” Murrell said. “This is a chance for you to practice adulting before people actually see you as one, so you have space for grace. Make mistakes, bump your head a little, but get back up. … The benefit of attending seminars like this is hearing from real people and being able to learn from their experiences, because your story has power.”

Frank Sanders is an alumnus of SVSU, an account manager for Dow Automotive Systems and a 2015 NAACP Award Recipient for his community involvement in improving the social justice climate, equality and diversity in the Great Lakes Bay Region. In his talk, he discussed the importance of mentorship to pass on leadership and service to the next generation.

“Being able to see an example is very powerful,” Sanders said. “You have to have an end goal in mind, and it’s amazing to see a solid role model. Hearing from those people make you believe that you can do it too.”

Cara Deschermeier, Assistant Director of Student Life, was pleased with the outcome.

“I think the event went very well with some outstanding speakers,” she said. “They all had a good presence in front of an audience and kept them engaged. I think students benefit a lot from listening to these presenters. Whether it was the idea of finding a mentor or discovering who you are, I believe that each student there was able to take a piece of information shared and apply it to their lives.”