Few students can say that they have had once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but those who attended the African American Student Leadership Experience at the beginning of the month can certainly say that they have done just that.
Six JSU students—Aliah Aytch, Nicholas Brown, Sheketa Bryant, Rajon Hudson, Chris Moon, and Eboni Warner—along with their two advisors, Shannon Coleman and LeMarques McClide, all got the chance to travel to Washington D.C. for the AASLE conference, founded by one of JSU’s alumni, Zephia Bryant.
Coleman, a member of the JSU housing staff, said “[Each of] these students were selected based upon a personal letter and then selected at random from among one of each of the Residential Assistant areas.”
Bryant received her B.S. in Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Education from Jacksonville State University. In 2012, Bryant founded the Bryant Educational Leadership Group, which is an organization designed to develop leaders and become a vital resource in leadership education.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Game Changers.”
“I have never been to a conference where everybody had a common goal of success,” said Chris Moon.
“It was amazing to see everybody so down to earth and humble as though they were no better than anyone else,” added Sheketa Bryant.
Some of the students got to experience a whole new level of “first time” experiences. From riding a plane or catching a taxi to traveling as far as Washington D.C., most of the students experienced something for the first time during their journey.
“It was very cold, and I’m not used to the cold…or the honking of impatient Washington drivers,” said Warner, “[It] was definitely something new for me,” she explained.
The weekend spent in Washington D.C. might sound like one of leisure, but the AASLE conference was definitely an experience filled with education and inspiration. The panel of speakers of the three-day event ranged from television celebrities, entertainers, to millionaires.
“Speaker Fonzworth Bentley said that no matter what you do, do it to your fullest. That is how you get to the top,” said Moon in regard to what he took away from the trip.
These six students and their advisors left Washington D.C. and returned to campus inspired, encouraged and anxious for the opportunity to bring everything they learned back to Jacksonville and put their newfound skills to good use.