Summit examines ‘struggles of leadership’

The Rev. Jerry Cobb of Seattle University Speaks at a student summit.
The Rev. Jerry Cobb of Seattle University Speaks at a student summit.

The Office of Student Development and The Manresa Project hosted the Student Leadership Summit Saturday, exploring this year’s theme, “The Struggles of Leadership.”

Every year, a group of students and staff from the Division of Student Affairs meets and chooses a theme for the summit, which has been held since 1998.

Kate Trevey, coordinator for student affairs and leadership, said a group of students and staff met and decided on “The Struggles of Leadership” because OSD has developed a theoretical model for leadership, yet that model does not address any of the struggles leaders may face.

“It’s really great to have the theoretical model,” Trevey said. “But one of the things that was really missing from that was … walking students through the journey of the struggles and challenges of leadership.”

During the summit, participants engaged in group discussion and personal reflection based on a presentation by the Rev. Jerry Cobb, visiting from Seattle University. Cobb used five paintings that detail five crucial points in the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola to comment on the struggles Ignatius faced as a leader and how his life can relate to the lives of modern college students.

“In a sense, he was way ahead of his time in seeing the kind of leadership we need today,” Cobb said. “He was somebody who experienced warfare firsthand. He experienced the need for a rigorous education and the importance of hands-on solidarity with the poor … and the need for a strong interior life.”

After Cobb spoke about Ignatius’ life, the participants were given time to reflect personally on his questions before coming together in small groups to share their reflections and ideas.

“We need a new kind of leader for the new problems we face, and yet some of the graces that Ignatius experienced are perfectly appropriate,” Cobb said.

Holly Peterson, a senior in the College of Business Administration, attended the summit because she thought it would help in her role as a Marquette Student Government senator.

“I think it’s always just beneficial to sit down with people you’ve never met or people that you’ve never expected to encounter in your years at Marquette,” Peterson said.

She said it was good to hear other people’s experiences with leadership and struggles and compare them to her own.

Yadi Leon, a senior in the College of Business Administration, agreed with Peterson.

“It was good to hear from the small group discussions other people’s struggles or other people’s concerns and how to form conclusions from that and how to improve experiences of your own and other’s experiences,” Leon said.

There were 130 students at the Leadership Summit.

“I’m impressed this many students were willing to take a Saturday off to do this,” Cobb said. “It shows a big commitment to leadership.”

Cobb ended the day by sending students out to use what they had learned at the summit, telling them, in the words of St. Ignatius, to “go forth and set the world on fire.”