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Students Explore What It Means to Be a Leader at Annual Aptissimi Leadership Conference

February 15th, 2016 by 

Tom Rettig

This year, 195 students participated in the annual Aptissimi Leadership Conference, a full-day conference open to all students where they are invited to explore, develop and articulate their personal leadership styles. The conference, sponsored by the Office of Student Involvement, provides a forum for thoughtful consideration of leadership traits, beliefs, and ideals.

“The Aptissimi Leadership Conference offered me an opportunity to contemplate my current leadership style and how to tailor it to the multitude of situations that arise throughout my daily interactions with my peers,” says Edward DeLuca ’17. The conference is important for students in any class year, adds underclassman Nicholas LaMothe ’18, who saw just how high current Holy Cross leaders have set the bar for new leaders like him to follow.

The conference featured sessions with administrators, faculty, and staff from departments across campus, ranging from Academic Services and Learning Resources to American Sign Language and Deaf Studies. The conference also included the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Luncheon, co-sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Education.

Read personal reflections from three students who had the opportunity to explore the definition of leadership and how it relates to them at this year’s conference.

Learning About Leadership

Emily Breakell ’17: “Aptissimi is a great way to start the semester because it invites Holy Cross students to think carefully about what we spend our time doing. The conference doesn’t by any means set up some formula for good leadership, rather it creates space for students to think about how they might play a role in work that matters most deeply to them. Aptissimi reminded me that good leaders do not arise primarily from the desire to be a leader, but instead from the desire to reach some goal that they authentically believe in.

As a resident assistant, a former orientation leader, and a member of Student Government Association, I am privileged to have leadership roles on campus and  Aptissimi reminded me not to take those titles for granted. I am lucky to have such great opportunities to enhance the lives of others as I grow personally. Of course, this extends beyond my student career, where meaningful leadership also only stems from genuine passion for a cause or project and gratitude for the opportunity to address it.”

Impactful Sessions

Meaghan Body ’17: “Currently, I am the program coordinator for Summer Gateways Orientation, where I will help plan, organize, and implement all logistical aspects of the program. I was intrigued by the opportunity to attend Aptissimi in order to continue my growth and personal development, and to learn more about how I can be instrumental in the leadership development of the orientation leaders I will supervise. During the conference, I had the opportunity to attend a session conducted by Jerry Maday, transportation manager at Holy Cross, titled “Fostering Collaboration Among Divergent Agendas.” After just completing a semester in Washington, D.C., where I interned for Senator Elizabeth Warren, this session initially piqued by interest out of a passion for bridging a gap in an increasingly partisan political system for the sake of creating collaborative solutions that genuinely make peoples’ lives better.

During the session, Jerry discussed a common humanity that all people have, regardless of what they believe or what their agenda is, and how in order to foster collaboration, we must identify the often hidden similarities that everyone at the table has, and work to create solutions from there. This concept of common humanity, while certainly applicable to partisanship in the U.S. Legislature, is crucial to my ability to work with others and unite groups of people that are comprised of opposing or differing agendas, as a student leader at Holy Cross and beyond.”

Translating Skills

Olufunmilola Anifowoshe ’17: “During the conference, I attended a session geared specifically towards upperclassmen called “Take Holy Cross Leadership Beyond the Hill.” The session was led by the Center for Career Development, and I learned how the skills I have acquired from my various leadership roles on campus can be highlighted not only on my resume and cover letter, but during interviews as well. For example, I am a resident assistant for first year students, and being able to describe to an employer that I can mediate and resolve conflicts (roommate agreement issues), or that I can effectively communicate with large and diverse groups of individuals (holding hall meetings and dispersing information to my hall community and my residents), are just some examples of how I learned to market my skills.

This is my second year attending the conference, and going forward, I think the most valuable lesson I have learned is that there is no stereotypical or “cookie cutter” leader; every opportunity and leadership role I have held on and off campus continues to shape me into the person that I am.”

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