It’s more than a day, it’s a lifestyle: Student leaders in the Carleton community


It’s more than a day, it’s a lifestyle: Student leaders in the Carleton community

The SOAR Student Leadership Conference brings together Carleton students who participate and present in leadership workshops throughout the day. This year’s guest speaker was Arlene Dickinson.

Summer Lewis, 3rd year Criminology and Criminal Justice student with a Concentration in Law and a Minor in French.

Co-Presented: “All Aboard the Mentor ‘Ship'”

As a student presenter for SOAR, I had mixed feelings about how the day would turn out. I worried about how many people would attend my session with my partner Jenny, if they would participate, and if they would feel that the information I presented was redundant. These anxious feelings reached a pinnacle after seeing everyone’s reaction to Arlene Dickinson’s presentation. I felt truly humbled as a student leader, who is at the beginning of a long career path, to share my experiences with other students. It was in my workshop, “All Aboard the Mentor ‘Ship’”, where I started to realize that no matter how humbled I felt about delivering the information I shared, there would always be students who place an exceptional amount of value on what I presented.


Because as my partner Jenny and I shared during our presentation, everyone has a blindspot. I used this in the context of a mentor relationship, but it also applies to all of the students who attend SOAR! Whether they are novice or experienced leaders, students come to SOAR with an open-mind, ready to participate, and willing to absorb the ideas of their colleagues with whom they do not share the same experiences. Our varying life experiences create individuals who have a plethora of useful information to share, but it also fosters curiosity within each person to learn from those who have different experiences.

My biggest take-away from the day is that leadership is created in those moments when you allow individuals to complete your blindspot with a fuller vision of the different perspectives and point of views that exist.

I highly recommend that anyone who takes their position as a leader seriously consider presenting or attending the SOAR Conference next year! If my experience has not convinced you, take the testimonies from a few of my amazing colleagues who also presented at SOAR.

Other take-aways…

Caroline O’Neil,  5th year student with a double major in Journalism and Human Rights. O’Neil is also the Director of Communications for the Student Philanthropy Council.

Presented: “The Team Behind the Leaders – Building Your Personal Board of Governors”

The value in leadership workshops is to hear from different leaders the lessons they want to pass on to youth. Any time a leader helps others is invaluable. We are able to learn what leaders do in a productive day, how they think about situations, things they wish they knew at our age, all of which help us develop our own leadership styles.

As a conference presenter, I was blown away by how open and engaged the delegates were. Everyone was extremely respectful and fostered some interesting dialogue throughout. I had set aside time for discussion and we used more time than I thought, which was great! In hearing from the delegates, I was able to learn more about my presentation topic and how it will change as I change.

Emily Kate Grey, 2nd year Bachelor of International Business Student with a Concentration in Marketing and Trade and a Minor in Spanish Language Studies.

Presented: “Finding your SWOT”

Arlene Dickinson is a powerful and inspiring leader who is extremely motivational because she shows that it doesn’t matter where you started in life, it matters where you end.

The first thing that I noticed about Arlene is that she shows tremendous leadership through her grace and humility.  Being an immigrant she experienced and overcame so much. She learned the value of active listening and how to find a lesson in every experience she had.

Listening is a huge part of being a leader. Learning how to communicate and understand your community is what sets great leaders apart.  Despite Arlene’s many accomplishments she shared that she wished she had dreamed bigger.  She instilled the idea of self-reflection to learn more about yourself and to find your personal goals and purpose.

She told us to dream big because with confidence, willingness to learn, and tenacity, the possibilities are endless.

Jennifer Trimble, 4th year History Student with a Minor in Indigenous Studies.

Co-Presented: “All Aboard the Mentor ‘Ship’”

The SOAR student leadership conference is beneficial for all types of students. The conference offers varying levels of presentations, from new student leaders to novice student leaders. There are a variety of presentations ever year, which delegates get to choose from.

Personally, I would recommend students who are interested in developing skills, open to learning, and ready to actively  engage to attend the conference!

Jessica Needham, 2nd year Environmental Science student.

Presented: “Campus to Community – Servant Leadership”

Since presenting at SOAR I’ve realized the importance and power there is in connecting students in an engaging way to demonstrate and develop leadership. I would love to find a way to connect and continue to involve students in a leadership capacity beyond SOAR and would want to incorporate a way to keep students engaged and connected on campus. This would ensure that the learning doesn’t just end when the presentation does.


For more information on this year’s SOAR conference visit

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