Jubilee Conference by Christina Thomas

April 14th, 2014

“Everything Matters” was this year’s theme for the Jubilee Conference. A team of Messiah students left at 10am on a Friday morning heading towards Pittsburgh, PA. Throughout the rest stops and the constant singing, we discussed what we would expect and the issues we could address upon returning to campus. So, what did I expect? I expected a room full of students from various disciplines and walks of life all united by our common faith in God. What I did not expect was entering a conference gaining professional networking skills, how to become a “storyteller of the past”, and how to be a humble, patience, efficient, and effective leader.

With me on this trip were several student leaders throughout the Office of Multicultural Programs from our multiple student organizations as well as our advisor Scott Hwang. Outside of the common gathering center was an array of organizations and colleges and universities tables. We were able to network and talk to graduate admission counselors, find local summer job opportunities, and connect with post-graduate organizations. The conference even challenged students to “sell themselves” by hosting a friendly competition on who was able to professionally connect the most with these various organizations and schools. As a history major, I was able to attend a session by Dr. Eric Miller of Geneva College on “Telling the Story of the World”. In a room full of future historians we were taught how to not only do history, but how to be a successful historian as we face graduation and begin to look towards graduate schools and professional jobs. This lecture provided me with great lessons as I began my graduate schools interview. Dr. Miller also taught up great secrets in securing funding for graduate school and making the most out of our undergraduate history degree. Through this conference, I gained a greater sense of how to become a historian pursuing graduate work. As I expanded my academic and professional experience, I began to even further grow in my leadership.

Being the school’s Vice President of Diversity Affairs is no simple task. Throughout the constant meetings and evaluations, I am constantly left with the issue of connecting six cultural based student organizations to the entire campus. At Jubilee, I had the privilege of attending two sessions, ‘Discovering the Beauty of Ethnicity and the Fragility of Pride’ and ‘The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Life as a Black Christian on a White Campus’. I found with these informational sessions that we must first take a step back before moving forward. It was a humbling lesson because I am constantly looking for ways to push forth this alternate chapel or propose this change without first stepping back to assets and take note of the various needs beginning within our own office and our own students. The second session spoke greatly about microaggressions, a big issue on our campus. During this session there was an even bigger movement stirring at many colleges and universities with powerful campaigns against microaggressions. Both of these sessions gave me efficient tools on how to address issues as a Christian attending predominately white colleges and to pass on what I learn to future leaders.

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