More than 400 Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas (JAG-K) students and staff gathered at Wichita State University this week for leadership development and inspiration from some of the organizations’ foremost supporters.
Elected officers from the state’s 104 JAG-K programs were invited to participate in the organization’s annual Leadership Development Conference (LDC) in the Rhatigan Student Center at Wichita State on Oct. 12, an event sponsored by ADM. The venue sponsor was the Wichita State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Students participated in workshops, campus tours and training activities, and listened to speakers on effective leadership.
“We put great emphasis on student leadership in our local programs,” said JAG-K President/CEO Chuck Knapp. “LDC is a highlight of every year because it brings together student leaders from across the state to an event that allows them to network and gain skills to further develop their leadership abilities.”
Students were welcomed to the conference by a video message from U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, who acknowledged the attendees’ accomplishment of being elected by their peers.
“They recognized your character and values. You proved yourselves leaders among your peers and they selected you to represent your entire chapter,” Marshall told the gathering. “The best leaders use their abilities to positively influence those around them. They get the most out of their peers and motivate them to be the best they can be in pursuit of an overall goal.”
Conducting the official meetings were the newly elected officers for the 2022-2023 school year (Pictured right to left): President Nuru Abdallah, Wyandotte; Vice President Liberty Gilkey, Kiowa County; Secretary Hailee Black, Hutchinson; Treasurer Ta’Mijha Nichols, Shawnee Heights.
This year’s LDC focused on equipping elected officers from each program to more effectively guide the Career Association at their respective schools. The student-led Career Associations link JAG-K participants to those from other schools, uniting them for development and service opportunities.
In student-guided workshops, the officers learned how to conduct meetings, cast vision and involve members of their respective programs. They discussed plans for the school year, which include a statewide service-learning partnership with Habitat for Humanity.
The keynote address was delivered by Byron Samuels, a retired college basketball coach and nationally renowned motivational speaker. He encouraged the gathering of Career Association officers to devote themselves to the benefit of others.
“Leadership is not exercising your authority,” Samuels said. “Leadership is influencing the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of others. Leadership is vision. Leadership is drawing others to you and working together.”
Also addressing the leadership conference was Kevin Like, retired Vice President of Strategic Accounts at ADM and a member of the JAG-K Board of Directors. Like described his rise from rural poverty to be the first of his family to graduate from college.
JAG-K is a multi-year, in-school program for students in grades six through 12 that offers tools to successfully transition students into post-secondary school, the military, or directly into the workforce with marketable skills. Participants in the program face multiple barriers to success that their JAG-K Career Specialist helps them overcome through a nationally-accredited, evidence-based model.
The 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization is a state affiliate of the national JAG program network which operates in 38 different states and territories. It is primarily funded through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant to the State of Kansas administered by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). In addition to school districts and DCF, JAG-K partners with the Kansas Department of Education. Other JAG-K funding sources include ADM, AT&T, Evergy, Goldstein Charitable Trust, John Deere, the Kansas Health Foundation, the Kansas Insurance Department, the Kansas State Bank Commissioner, Stormont Vail Health, Synchrony Financial, the Taco Bell Foundation, the City of Topeka, United Way of the Plains and Walmart.
To learn more about JAG-K, visit www.jagkansas.org, ‘Jobs for America’s Graduates-Kansas’ on Facebook, and on Twitter at @JAG_Kansas.