BSU attends annual leadership conference

Sophia Comas, Features Editor

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The Manhattan High Black Student Union attended the Fifth Annual State BSU Leadership Conference on April 17 in the Student Union Ballroom at Kansas State University.

The event, rescheduled due to unforeseen weather circumstances, lasted all day and is meant to emphasize unity and acceptance in students throughout the state of Kansas.

“The initial purpose of the leadership conference was to bring students together of all races to discuss the persistence needed to be successful in the future,” Mbofho Ndou, sophomore, said. “I think it helped BSU students to be more motivated.”

The theme of this year’s conference reflected what BSU chapters across Kansas wanted to achieve within their schools and communities as well as their personal lives.

“This year’s theme was ‘Blackness: Embrace It, Accept It, Live It,’” Greg VanDyke, MHS BSU president, said. “This was a theme that KSU BSU was going by all year that the BSU president created, and they shared it with all of us.”

Attendees of the conference were able to divide and conquer throughout the day, as there were multiple morning and afternoon breakout sessions available for students to go to that appealed to their individual tastes.

“We broke out into our morning breakout sessions based on whichever one we were interested in in going to,” VanDyke said. “I went to a session with the keynote speaker where… we were able to share our own personal testimonies and also dig deeper into the ever-changing world we live in.”

The conference also hosted a keynote speaker, professor Robert N. Page Jr., to converse with students about college life as an African American and cultural awareness in school.

“[Formerly] the Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas, he has worked in post-secondary education for over 30 years and specializes in retention and recruitment programs, diversity training and awareness, conference coordination, and budgeting and strategic planning as well as the motivation of all students to achieve at their highest potential,” the K-State website says.

The breakout sessions did not require the intense professionalism needed at the beginning of the conference, as the members of the BSU later enjoyed themselves with lunch and various forms of entertainment.

“After the morning session, we went to Olive Garden and had some entertainment,” VanDyke said. “The entertainment included the different fraternities and sororities, dancing and stepping and even some singing. All the schools enjoyed it a lot and were really getting into it.”

The conference showed the importance of self-confidence and respect while also providing countless learning opportunities for the students who attended.

“Conferences like this one are important to students of MHS because they provide students with opportunities to learn and get empowered,” Ndou said.

The club is eager to attend this event again and share their experiences with not just the minority population at MHS but everyone, students and teachers alike.

“We really enjoyed it and we felt empowered,” VanDyke said. “We were really thrilled that we got to partake in the black empowerment experience.”

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