Midwest Service Leaders Conference Friday

  • Tomorrow through Sunday, Marquette will host students from different colleges for the Midwest Service Leaders Conference.
  • The conference will aim to help students develop "skills, passion and knowledge to inspire meaningful service projects" at their different campuses.
  • Neil Willenson, the founder of the Milwaukee-based community organization One Heartland, will be the keynote speaker for the event on Saturday.

The Service Learning Program, Manresa Project and the Community Service Program will hold the Midwest Service Leaders Conference tomorrow through Sunday.

It will aim at "helping students develop skills, passion and knowledge to inspire meaningful service projects" at different campuses across the Midwest, according to the conference's description.

"The Midwest Service Leaders Conference will be a meeting of minds," said Kalyn Gigot, the conference's coordinator. "It's an opportunity for students from different Midwest colleges and universities to talk about their service programs, compare them and exchange ideas."

According to Gigot, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, 18 colleges and universities from Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota will be taking part in the program. Marquette, St. Norbert College, Loyola University Chicago, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ripon College, Milwaukee School of Engineering and DePaul University are just a few of the institutions that will be taking part in the workshops held over the weekend.

Laura Johnson, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the student-led workshops will include program logistics, community involvement aspects and leading and reflecting with peers.

"Professionals will also come in to talk about their vocations and how community service and social justice are incorporated into their jobs," Johnson said.

Neil Willenson, the founder of the Milwaukee-based community organization One Heartland, will be flying in from California to be the keynote speaker on Saturday morning, Gigot said.

"He's phenomenal," Gigot said. "When he was a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he made a career out of community service."

According to the group's Web site, "One Heartland is a national non-profit organization committed to greatly improving the lives of children, youth and their families impacted by HIV/AIDS and other significant life challenges worldwide."

Gigot said that 103 students are registered for the conference so far, and she's excited to see that more students are registering every day.

Melissa Galick, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, plans to attend the event.

"I'm really looking forward to meeting people from different schools and learning more about community service from them," Galick said.

There are no specific activities planned for Friday, as the bulk of the event will take place on Saturday and Sunday morning, Gigot said. The closing address is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

"It's a way for Marquette students to orientate themselves on what community service is about or to simply revamp students who are already involved within the community," Gigot said.

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