(Photo by Rosie Gerrish) Aaron Newman (left) and members of WSUSA converse and eat lunch at PROJECT LEAD.
(Photo by Rosie Gerrish) Aaron Newman (left) and members of WSUSA converse and eat lunch at Project LEAD.

Weber State University student leaders gathered at the Davis campus on Friday afternoon for the start of the WSU Student Association’s Project LEAD: Leaders of Tomorrow conference.

The event was aimed at helping all WSU students become better leaders, and featured student panels, leadership exercises and presentations from keynote speaker Brad Barton. Students also participated in games and a service project on campus.

Barton, a motivational magician and WSU alumnus, encouraged student leaders to live with passion and constantly strive to be better.

“There’s a lot of people afraid of failure. Well, I’ll tell you what’s more — there’s a lot of people afraid of success,” Barton said. “Life is 10 percent what happens to us, and 90 percent of how we react to it.”

Barton emphasized that there are three things leaders can do to make themselves better: Let things go, keep their eyes on the prize, and understand the mental conditioning students are exposed to. “Wildcats can do better, yes?”

One student panel featured WSUSA vice presidents Alex Grimes, Lola Moli, Alexis Marquez and Trevor Annis.

“Even though I’m technically at the top, I haven’t learned any less in my position or any more than before (in my previous positions),” said Moli, diversity vice president. “If you guys wanna see something happen at Weber State, you are in a position to do so.”

Service vice president Annis agreed. “You need to become the person you see yourself being . . . right now. You have the ability to become the leader you want to be — and that time is now.”

Event participants Jamieson Strople and Jessica Keomalu both attended Project LEAD to try to become better leaders in their lives and in their roles on campus. Strople, an athletic training major, said he found Barton inspiring. He said the presentation reminded him that “we’re focusing too much on the small things.”

Keomalu, a business major who serves in many leadership capacities on campus, said that leadership is “allowing yourself to be in someone else’s shoes . . . you’re trusting other people, and they’re trusting you.”

Strople and Keomalu both said they were glad they’d come to Project LEAD.

“I feel like it went really well,” said Tessa Diamond, leadership vice president and the coordinator of the overall event. “It was successful. I was happy about it.” She said she would encourage people to continue attending Project LEAD next year.

Aaron Newman, director of Student Involvement & Leadership, expressed his excitement about the effectiveness of the event when addressing the student senate on Monday, saying it was the best turnout for the event in a long time.

“It’s not just in some of us,” Moli said. “It’s in all of us. All of us have the potential to be a leader. If we understand the impact that we have on Weber State University, other students will see that.”

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