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Inaugural Black Bear Leadership Summit teaches students how to lead with passion

Todd Saucier, vice president and account executive for United Insurance, gives a speech on passionate leadership at the Black Bear Leadership Summit, Friday, Feb. 26 at Wells Conference Center. Photo by Sze Wing Wong, Contributor.
Todd Saucier, vice president and account executive for United Insurance, gives a speech on passionate leadership at the Black Bear Leadership Summit, Friday, Feb. 26 at Wells Conference Center. Photo by Sze Wing Wong, Contributor.

Last Friday, Feb. 26, the Golden Key International Honor Society and Sophomore Owls co-hosted the inaugural Black Bear Leadership Summit at Wells Conference Center, featuring lectures and workshops focused on the theme of leading with passion.

Participants of the summit learned about leadership directly from some of Maine’s distinguished leaders. Speakers at the event included Todd Saucier, vice president and account executive for United Insurance; Brig. Gen. Douglas Farnham, Maine’s recently appointed adjutant general; Command Chief Master Sgt. Daniel G. Moore of the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Refueling Wing; Dr. Carol Kim, UMaine’s vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School; and Robert Dana, University of Maine’s vice president for student life and dean of students.

The summit also featured workshops that explored the topics of group dynamics, professionalism and the value of networking in a digital world.

This joint initiative was led by Kathy Hill, president of UMaine’s Golden Key chapter and Sam Borer, president of Sophomore Owls, a men’s honor society founded at UMaine in 1909.

Borer met with Hill, who is also the building manager for UMaine’s Buchanan Alumni House, to discuss ways of expanding the relationship between Sophomore Owls and the Alumni House. As they were wrapping up, Borer shared the Owls’ idea of hosting colloquium leadership series this year.

“One of the missions of the Owls is to assist first-years in transitioning to university life. When I took the presidency, I did not really see us fulfilling this mission,” Borer said. “Leadership is something I am very passionate about, so it has been kind of like my pet project. Owls’ initiative happened to collocate with the movement of Golden Key.”

Indeed, last year, Golden Key held a small leadership event, and planned to do a half-day leadership event this year. The heads of the groups decided to team up and work together to make the Black Bear Leadership Summit happen.

“Last November, we started having meetings about what we wanted it to be, and started securing speakers. Most of the planning took place in January and it has really been fast and furious since,” Hill shared. “The hardest part the summit prep was the short timeline we had. When I ask people for help and say you have five days, that is asking a lot from people. Next year we will start planning in October.”

The University Bookstore, Army ROTC and University Credit Union are among the sponsors of the summit.

“It was really good to reach out to a lot of people across and outside the campus, and see them get behind the idea of teaching undergraduate students the essential job skills,” Borer added.

“Sometimes, a lot of conferences can get up in the clouds with things that are really great in [sic] paper, but do not help in practicality. We have a lot of people at UMaine who could be great leaders, but do not get taught the know hows. You go right to your classes, where you learn your math and your physics; but we do not have classes on how to work well with other or how to lead people. You come across these things in every single field but you do not have a class in that. The leadership skills taught in the summit will be applicable to everyone, regardless of their major,” Borer shared.

“There is a leader inside everyone,” Hill added.

The summit started with an opening statement from Provost Jeffrey E. Hecker, who addressed the importance of gaining soft skills through leadership experience. Dr. Carol Kim was the only female among the five speakers at the summit.

“It didn’t really surprise me,” Kim said, on being the only woman speaker.

During her presentation, Kim used the data which shows that only 14 percent of graduate deans, and 10 percent of vice presidents are women. Moreover, the American Student Government Association (ASGA) concluded that in the 2011-2012 school year, 42.5 percent of student body presidents in colleges and universities were women. Since 1976 there have been seven women student government presidents at UMaine. In 2014, Susan Hunter became UMaine’s first woman president.

“But we just celebrated UMaine’s 150 year anniversary, and she is our 20th president,” Kim added.

During her presentation, Kim also showed a statistic which states that men tend to apply for jobs if they meet 60 percent of job requirements, whereas women only apply if they meet 100 percent.

“When she [Kim] said that, I wondered when was the last time I applied for a job that I didn’t meet all requirements for,” Sierra Santomango, a second-year student, said.

During the summit, Santomango learned that body language can increase one’s confidence.

Amy Cuddy, a researcher at Harvard University studied body language and the impact it has on human hormones. She found that doing a high power pose for two minutes like “the Wonder Woman” pose, with your chest out and your hands on your hips, can increase your testosterone levels by 20 percent and decrease cortisol levels by 25 percent. In both men and women, higher levels of testosterone result in increased feeling of confidence, whereas lower levels of cortisol lead to a decreased feeling of anxiety, as well as an improved ability to control stress, Cuddy said in a 2012 TEDGlobal Conference talk.

During her presentation, Kim asked the participants to stand up and test “the Wonder Woman” pose.

Kim encouraged the participants not to hesitate and go after what they want in life.
“You cannot get what you don’t ask for,” Kim said to the crowd. “Be bold, be brave, and just do it.”

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