Bianca Kajy is a junior studying marketing at the Broad College of Business. She is currently vice president of communications for the Broad Student Senate, a student organization that serves as the liaison between the college’s faculty and students.
In August, I participated in the Broad College’s inaugural Leadership in Action Summit, where student leaders had the opportunity to hear from faculty and staff at MSU and beyond. With a dedication to growth and learning in the realm of leadership, I was enthusiastic about spending a day surrounded by like-minded and accomplished individuals.
Binnu Patta Hill, associate dean and chief DEI officer at the University of Wisconsin, was a keynote speaker. She emphasized the importance of putting ourselves in uncomfortable situations and embracing diversity, as these are fundamental for stimulating growth and nurturing fresh relationships. As Binnu mentioned, “Inclusion is just the process, diversity is the desired outcome.”
One point that resonated with me was Binnu’s observation about how implicit biases often influence decisions, a situation that should be avoided at all costs. For instance, it’s common for students to say, "They just won't fit in," when considering new additions to an organization. But why? Is it because they don’t mirror our own experiences or backgrounds? And if so, does that justify exclusion? The truth is diversity cannot thrive in the absence of inclusion.
Binnu also spoke on the habits we should practice to become strong and inspirational leaders. Like having the willingness to speak up on matters, even if they do not directly affect us. Also, when addressing an issue to someone, outlining the impact their actions had on you, and not just the action itself. Additionally, creating an environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to express their views; this builds trust and will foster deeper connections within our student organizations.
Beth Hammond, director of the college’s Center for Ethical and Socially Responsible Leadership, facilitated a presentation on ethical conduct. This session included an insightful exploration with an ethical lens inventory exercise. This experience was enlightening as it offered a valuable perspective on the alignment of my ethical stance along with my peers.
Attending this conference was undeniably an exceptional opportunity and one that I hope many other students can experience. Establishing new connections allowed me to meet people I might not have otherwise. As MSU Interim President Theresa Woodruff, Ph.D., wisely advised, "Have people want to follow you and get people to want to go on that path with you." This conference has not only broadened my horizons but also equipped me with valuable insights on leadership that I aim to apply in my future endeavors.