STARKVILLE, Miss.--More than 75 high school juniors and seniors from around the region participated in the 14th annual Donald W. Zacharias Leadership Conference at Mississippi State.
Sponsored last weekend (Jan. 31-Feb. 2) by the university's Student Association's Freshman Forum, the campus event is designed to help students nearing graduation further enhance their leadership and goal-setting skills. "Keep Calm and Lead On" was this year's conference theme.
Lynn Fitch, state treasurer of Mississippi, was the featured speaker.
"In past years, the selection has been limited to two candidates per high school," said junior Caitlin King, the forum's co-director.
King, an elementary education major from Chatham, said forum leaders decided for 2014 "to allow as many students as wanted to attend and experience a weekend full of MSU and leadership."
The conference is among campus memorials to MSU's 15th president whose 1985-97 tenure is the second-longest in the land-grant institution's nearly 137-year history. Zacharias died last year in Starkville after a long illness.
"He was an incredible leader who took MSU to a new level during his term," said King of the former chief executive who continued to interact with students long after retirement.
King said the annual conference--the largest event put on by MSU freshman--has become a major event for both the institution and student government. "It brings students to campus that may have never been here before and gives the Student Association a chance to tell students ways to get involved when they get to college," she said.
"This is an opportunity that not all colleges offer to high school students, and it gives you so much background into the way student governments work," King continued. "We wanted every student to leave feeling as though they gained leadership skills that they can use the rest of their lives."
Other featured conference speakers included Jimmy W. Abraham, retired associate vice president for development and alumni and MSU Alumni Association executive director; SA president Michael A. Hogan of Memphis, Tenn., a senior management major; and MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin. Also addressing participants were members of the SA Cabinet and Alumni Delegates Roadrunners, Orientation Leaders, and Maroon VIP student organizations.
Schools represented at this year's gathering included (by state):
ALABAMA--Hewitt-Trussville High School and Sulligent High School.
MISSISSIPPI--Biloxi High School, Calhoun Academy in Calhoun City, Carroll Academy in Carrollton, Cathedral School in Natchez, Central Academy in Macon, Heritage Academy in Columbus, Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Jackson Preparatory School in Flowood, Northeast Lauderdale High School in Meridian, Long Beach High School, Loyd Star Attendance Center in Brookhaven, Madison-Ridgeland Academy in Madison, Meridian High School, Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus, Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Ocean Springs High School, Parklane Academy in McComb, Pillow Academy in Greenwood, Pontotoc High School, Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg, Puckett Attendance Center, Quitman High School, Starkville Academy, Starkville High School, Tupelo High School, Washington School in Greenville, Wayne Academy in Waynesboro, and West Lauderdale High School in Collinsville.
TENNESSEE--University School of Jackson.
For more about the conference, visit www.sa.msstate.edu or contact King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about MSU is available at www.msstate.edu.