On June 3rd, over 180 student body presidents from around the nation arrived in Washington, D.C. for NCLC’s sixth annual Presidential Leadership Summit.
The summit kicked off with rousing speeches from Tina Tchen, former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and Lillian Cunningham, the host of The Washington Post’s “Presidential” podcast.
“I’m inspired by how these incredible presidents are tackling the toughest issues facing higher education head on," said NCLC Executive Director and Cofounder Andy MacCracken. “We need these students’ leadership now more than ever.”
At this year’s summit, students attended policy sessions on Title IX policy, sexual assault prevention, mental health policy and outreach, addressing substance abuse on campus, advocating for inclusive communities, housing and food insecurity, college affordability, and civic engagement.
Andrew Jackson, student body president at The Ohio State University, attended the conversation on building inclusive communities with former Mizzou Student Body President Payton Head.
“Building inclusive communities is something that I am ensuring happens on my campus. Attending a session led by the president of Mizzou shed light on not only ways to communicate with students of different backgrounds, but also how effectively to advocate for different groups of students,” said Jackson.
Experts from consulting to fundraising fields trained student leaders on project management, leveraging the press, digital engagement, data-driven advocacy, lobbying, fundraising, and crisis communications management.
Student leaders left the workshops feeling better prepared to serve their communities back home.
"As student leaders, we have access to such a breadth of data, and oftentimes, we are paralyzed by it because we aren't sure how to make that data meaningful,” said Anushka Sarkar, student body president at the University of Michigan. “The Data-Driven Advocacy workshop was informative in showing how to take a large amount of information and make it meaningful, persuasive, and targeted; I fully intend to use what I learned from this session to take on healthcare affordability and accessibility at the University of Michigan."
Following a keynote address by Dr. Kori Street of the USC Shoah Foundation on the power of storytelling, students left to grab dinner and explore the city of Washington.
The inaugural Campus Legacy Awards Luncheon capped off the 2017 Presidential Leadership Summit, with guests and attendees including Campus Legacy Awards Honorary Chairman Senator Dick Lugar, Sri Lankan Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, and Farah Pandith, the first-ever Special Representative to Muslim Communities for the United States State Department.
The inaugural Campus Legacy Awards Luncheon honored former Vice President Joe Biden, Farah Pandith, Sam Zwerling, UC San Diego’s Basic Security initiative. NCLC Board Chair, Carlos Reyes, announced NCLC’s Student Body President of the Year — Georgia Tech’s Nagela Nukuna.
"Receiving the inaugural Student Body President of the Year Award last week was such an honor, especially amongst all the incredible leaders sitting in the room. Being a part of a group that celebrates service to and for others to the highest degree was a moment I will never forget,” said Nukuna.
Amidst the bustling activity of PLS17, it’s evident the most memorable aspect was the instant connections and friendships that emerged over the weekend.
“The principles taught at the Presidential Leadership Summit prepared me to enter my presidency with confidence. Even more important is the friendships I formed. These leaders will continue to provide a network of idea sharing and collaboration for the rest of our lives,” said Michael Scott Petters, Student Body President at Utah State University.