If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid to start small.
That was one of the important messages Cameron Aaron ’21 took away from Connecticut College’s inaugural Emerging Leaders Conference Saturday.
“To be a leader, you don’t necessarily have to do something that totally changes the world. By being honest and kind and doing little things to help people, you can create a ripple effect in your community,” said Aaron, an aspiring double neuroscience and computer science major who hopes to create artificial intelligence to help people with learning disabilities.
“Half of being a leader is your attitude and the way you react to adversity.”
Aaron was one of 48 students selected from more than 120 students nominated from across campus to participate in the day-long conference, which was held at the historic Garde Arts Center in downtown New London. The conference, sponsored by the Office of Student Engagement, the Division of Institutional Equity and Inclusion, Community Partnerships, and the Office of Career and Professional Development, featured an alumni panel discussion, a keynote speech and breakout sessions on civility and citizenship and leading with values.
“The idea was to create a leadership development opportunity that was not connected to any particular position on campus, to give students the opportunity to reflect on their strengths and values and to encourage them to think about their roles as potential leaders and change agents on campus and in their communities,” said Geoff Norbert, assistant dean for student engagement and new student programs.
Most of the participants were first-year and sophomore students who are just beginning to recognize their potential to make an impact on campus and off, Norbert said. He added that The Garde was strategically chosen as the setting for the conference because of its historical significance as a gathering place for all members of the community.
The Emerging Leaders Conference, which the College hopes to host annually, is part of a broader effort to create moral leadership opportunities for all members of the campus community.
“We want to create everyday leaders who are motivated to make positive change in their communities,” Norbert said.