University Student Conference Teaches Diversity, Community, Leadership
Pastor Corey Brooks Sr., inspired the conference attendees with his story of faith and leadership.
Chicago pastor inspires attendees, said he seeks 'to please God'
CHICAGO (November 8, 2012) — As many as 400 North Park University students – plus nearly 300 from other colleges and universities in the Midwest and other parts of the United States – participated November 2 in the University's fourth annual Student Diversity Leadership Conference. The students attended to learn about diversity, community, and leadership, and how to apply what they learn at their own institutions.
This year's keynote speaker was Pastor Corey B. Brooks Sr., of New Beginnings Church, a large, growing nondenominational congregation on the south side of Chicago. Student attendees said they were inspired by his comments about personal integrity and becoming leaders.
Brooks' presentation "really stood out to me," especially his remarks about casting a vision, believing in it, and pursuing it, said Jamir Prattis, Ohio Dominican University, Columbus. Clarissa Harris, also from Ohio Dominican, said, "I came to this conference to learn more about becoming a better and effective leader, and to have a more diverse organization," she said. Harris is president of her university's Black Student Union.
Lynda Yang-Jungsing, a student from Bethel University, St. Paul, Minn., has attended the conference the past two years. "It's something that I feel helps me be more culturally competent, and helps me with leadership," she said. With her was Bethel student Jessica Yang, who was able to connect her major with what she learned. "I'm a nursing major, and we're learning how some ethnicities don't have access to health care, or don't have health insurance, or, when they are injured or hurt, they are less likely to go to the doctor. Being here and talking about the communities here — it is interesting to see how that is applied," she said.
"This conference provides an opportunity for students to learn about issues of diversity at a deeper level," said Dr. Terry Lindsay, conference chair and North Park University's dean of diversity and intercultural programs. "Many of the students that come don't have the resources on their campuses to do the kinds of things that we do here at this conference."
Brooks told the students he made a personal decision a few years ago "to please God" as a positive response to urban violence. Brooks said he was called to live in a tent on the roof of an abandoned, dilapidated hotel across the street from New Beginnings – to raise funds to buy the building and demolish it for a new neighborhood community center. His commitment raised enough money to fulfill his goal during his 94-day stay. In another response, Brooks said he was called to walk across the United States over a period of four months, and reached the West Coast last month. That effort raised another $500,000 for the community center project.
Brooks encouraged the students to be leaders in their own contexts, suggesting three principles for leadership. Money, he said, should not be a motivating factor in becoming a leader. "You will be called to do things, and you won't know where the money is coming from," he told the students. "Your motivation should be that at the end of the day, you want to hear God say, 'well done, good and faithful servant.'"
A second quality is that good leaders obey God even when they don't understand why they are being called. "One of the qualities missing in leaders today is faith. Faith is one of the things that pleases God. When you obey God, God will bring you things you can't imagine," he said. Third, leaders have to be able to thank God before receiving anything, he said. "Faith is about saying thank you before you receive," Brooks added.
The students attended several conference workshops on topics such as intercultural competencies, building multicultural organizations, leadership development, principles of inclusion, and mentoring. Cultural and musical performers were Bethel University's Royal Steppers, the Oakdale Covenant Church Children's Choir, Chicago, and Las BomPlenaras, Chicago. A reception for cultural clubs concluded the conference.
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