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Three BSU student leaders joined more than 60 of their peers for the national LeaderShape institute, where they learned how to infuse social justice concepts into their roles on campus.
LeaderShape is a nonprofit program aimed at improving campus leadership nationwide. Annual institutes bring together select student leaders from across the nation for activities and discussions that focus on building leadership skills and addressing big world problems, such as welfare, poverty, and environmental protection, among other issues. The overarching idea is to teach students how to "lead with integrity."
"The institute taught us to dig down deep and find what our passions are and lead by doing what is right," said Carlos Gomes, '13, one of the BSU participants, along with Benjamin Miele, '14, and Katelyn Rapoza '13.
LeaderShape hosts several institutes annually nationwide. This one was held at Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center in Dover.
An aspiring entrepreneur who hails from Cape Verde and lives in Brockton, Mr. Gomes called the six-day institute an invaluable experience, as it motivated him to focus on business practices that marry profitability with civic duty.
"You can still make profit and use your profit to help give to a cause that you believe will make this world a better place," he said. "Then I realized I can change the world."
Those sentiments were echoed by Mr. Miele, a campus leader who has been involved in student affairs and various social justice programs at BSU, who said the institute helped him focus on the future more than any experience in his college career.
"It helped me formulate a vision that would really better the world that we're in, pulling out my core values and core passions, and helping me focus on what I want to do with life and what I want to give to others," he said.
The institute inspired the Weymouth resident, who is a currently a summer intern in the student affairs office at American University in Maryland, to begin collaborating with BSU administrators on developing new social justice leadership programs on campus.
The ultimate goal is to take his ideas nationwide. It's not something that can happen overnight, the participants agree. This is something the conference emphasized. "It's about finding something to work at for the rest of our lives," said Mr. Miele.
Mr. Gomes has been an active leader at BSU since his freshman year, serving as a resident assistant, an orientation leader, and a mentor in various programs, among other things. He said his focus as a leader is now on social justice, as the institute helped him realize more than ever that actions do speak louder than words.
"If you stand by what you believe is right and stand up for your own values, people will relate to you and follow," he said. (Rob Matheson, '07, G '12, University Advancement)