Convening Leaders: A Student’s Perspective

Written By: Christina Dean, James Madison University Student

Hi, my name is Christina Dean and I am a Hospitality Management major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. At JMU, I am involved in different clubs and organizations across campus including my position as Secretary for PCMA’s JMU chapter. I am so happy that I decided to attend this year’s Convening Leaders. I honestly wish that I didn’t wait till my senior year to make the decision to go!

In the past I thought that I was too young to get enough out of the conference, which is far from the truth. At any age, a trip to Convening Leaders is a positive experience. I would recommend any student who has the means to go to Convening Leaders to take a chance and go for it. I walked away from the conference with a vast amount of knowledge about the industry, new contacts, and a fresh outlook on what I can do with my degree.

From day one the 2015 Convening Leaders theme “Make No Little Plans” was evident in everything from the session topics, the General Session speakers, the parties, and more! As a student, I enjoyed the PCMA U focused sessions on Sunday and throughout the week. I valued the specific focus on topics that affect students while also enjoying the fact that I could interact and mingle with other professionals at non-student focused breakout sessions. One of the highlights of Convening Leaders for me was the knowledge I received. I learned how to add design in everything that I do in order to make an emotional connection with my audience from Emily Oberman, I learned to never, ever give up from Diana Nyad, I learned how to become a better decision maker from George Wu, I learned to look at challenges as opportunities not problems from Heather Thomas and David Rich, and I could go on and on about the many lessons I took with me as I left Convening Leaders.

Looking back one of my favorite quotes I learned while at Convening Leaders was a quote by John Wheeler, “We shape the world by the questions we ask.” This has already affected my daily life in the way that I ask questions of my peers and teachers. In addition, I have a notebook full of notes that I know I will look back at throughout my last semester at college and once I start a full-time position in the future. As a student I feel that the benefits of attending Convening Leaders are endless. I had an amazing experience, and I hope to make a trip to Convening Leaders for years to come.

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