UM Hosts Leadership Symposium for First Time

ACC Leadership Symposium sparks new inspirations, collaborations and realizations of social change among students.

By Renee Reneau
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 24, 2014) — Looking over the beautiful waters of Biscayne Bay at the Miami skyline, 75 student delegates from across the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) reflected on their opportunity to learn, explore and effect social change in their schools and communities.

“The Next Generation of Social Change,” this year’s theme of the ACC Leadership Symposium hosted in conjunction with the Butler Center for Service and Leadership, was alive and well Friday through Sunday at UM’s Student Activities Center – with a side-trip boat ride Saturday night. It was the first time the ACC symposium was hosted in Miami, and the feedback was incredible.

“I didn’t want it to end,” said Taylor-Elise Beauprez, a sophomore at North Carolina State. “It’s beautiful in Miami. I made so many new friends, and was able to learn an incredible amount about social justice and social change from my peers and all of the speakers.”

Check the Storify page about the symposium.

Throughout the weekend, students met with community partner organizations in the greater Miami area, attended workshops about the climate of social change in the 21st century, and participated in a service project packaging 1,500 hygiene supply kits each with a personalized note, which will benefit the 800 residents at the two Chapman Partnership homeless shelters in Miami.

Students involved in the ACC Leadership Symposium went all-in on learning about social change.

The workshops, taught by UM professors and affiliated guests, included sessions on community psychology, starting grassroots movements, the history of American social justice movement, utilizing social media to evoke change, and navigating our role as socially active college students.

“The work that some of the speakers had done left me speechless and motivated me to make a difference like they have,” said Beauprez.

Delegates also spent Saturday afternoon visiting local non-profit organizations, YES Institute and Hands On Miami inside the Center for Social Change. The sessions presented practical ways for students to engage in meaningful dialogue about their social issues and the first steps that are vital for early success.

“A lot of students want to enact social change, but they don’t,” said delegate Joshua Myers, a freshman at University of Miami. “After this weekend I know what I can do, and it’s an amazing feeling.”

The culmination of the symposium was Sunday morning, when the ten social issue groups presented their ideas for combatting each social justice issue.

“It was so powerful that in just 72 hours the students created projects that can be shared and implemented on campuses and communities throughout the ACC,” said Andrew Wiemer, director of the UM Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development. “The knowledge and conversations this weekend were just the beginning of what can be great change across the conference.”

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