Several Bob Jones University students had the opportunity to attend all-expenses-paid leadership conferences in Washington, D.C., and at the College of the Ozarks this March.
Three BJU students attended a leadership conference at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri on March 11 and 12.
According to their website, the College of the Ozarks emphasizes culture, patriotism, academics and vocation and Christianity. In addition to their focus on these values, their students don’t pay tuition.
Matthew Weathers, center for leadership development director, explained that the college instead has a method to provide students a way to attend. “They are a unique school in which all students work a minimum of 15 hours a week at jobs around campus and tuition is free,” Weathers said. He added that the students do pay for room and board.
This year is the first year that BJU students were invited to attend the annual leadership conference at the College of the Ozarks. Other schools invited to attend included The Citadel, the U.S. Naval Academy, Virginia Military Institute, Georgia Military College, Evangel University, Marion Military Institute and Southwest Baptist University. The U.S Air Force Academy was also invited but did not attend.
The conference opened with sessions by keynote speakers, and members were later split into small groups for discussion.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions was one of the keynote speakers. Other keynote speakers included Ruben Navarrette, a Washington Post journalist; Dr. Christine Porath, a professor at Georgetown University; and Alex Nsengimana, who works with Operation Christmas Child.
Weathers said these types of events are great opportunities for students to be exposed to leadership speakers. The main theme of the conference was civility. Weathers said one of the topics raised was the Golden Rule and how it can serve as a model or definition of civility.
BJU students who attended were Andrew Williquette, Abby McAllister and Bela Lopez Aguilar. Abby McAllister, a senior composite social studies major, said she was interested in going to the conference to grow as a leader.
“As a leader in my society, I thought that applying to the leadership conferences sponsored by the CLD would be a great way to further develop and cultivate leadership to better serve those I encounter,” McAllister said.
Weathers said conferences like this one are a great opportunity for students to learn. “It helps our students to develop themselves, learn leadership skills, practice communication and learn with and learn from other schools,” he said.
Another conference BJU students were invited to for the first time was the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, D.C. Weathers said the bipartisan organization’s goal is to improve relations between America and Israel.
The conference ran from March 24 through March 26. Vice President Mike Pence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and House Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi were some of the speakers at the conference.
Student body presidents Daniel Kim and Tori Conover were invited to the conference. However, only Kim was able to attend. “I’m very honored and grateful for this opportunity,” Kim said.
In addition to the time dedicated to political speakers, the conference included a scheduled time where attendees had the opportunity to meet with members of congress to discuss issues.
Weathers said his goal for this conference was to be a representative for Christ and speak the truth in today’s chaotic world. Students can sign up to attend future leadership conferences through the Center for Leadership Development website.
Weathers said that more students sign up than the CLD can take on trips. Because of this, students can request to attend specific conferences during the sign-up process.