De-Kia L. Battle
National Black Student Leadership Conference-WILLEAD Education Foundation
January 5th, 2012- January 8th, 2012
What is leadership? Before Thursday, January 5th, 2012, I could have said simply that
leadership is governing others (followers) in some form whether within an organization or in day
to day life. I have seen it, could describe it, from my own personal experiences; however, as I
had the pleasure of attending the WillLead Foundation, National Black Student Leadership
Conference, my opinion was altered. Honestly, coming into the conference, I had no idea of what
to expect. Did I have apprehension at first? Yes, but I had confidence that this conference would
be worth coming back earlier by a few days from winter break. In this blog, I know that to hit
every point that happened in the past few days would take many pages. Instead of doing that, I
decided to touch on a few points that may be of interest to some people whom also considers
themselves to be leaders whether within the Poole College of Management or even in their own
personal daily life.
On Thursday evening, I arrived in Raleigh and went to the Marriot Hotel where the
conference was being held. I met a few familiar faces from North Carolina State University and
many new faces from other colleges and universities along the east coast of the United States.
We were introduced to Ms. Bev Smith. I had never heard of Ms. Bev Smith before this event. To
keep it short of whom she exactly is, I will say that she was a powerful investigative reporter at
the start of her career, is a popular radio correspondent, had a show entitled “Our Voices” on
Black Entertainment Television, and has received over 300 numerous awards. This woman really
inspired me. She is someone who triumphed over adversity, a true leader. When she was shot at
over eight times, she kept on going. When there was a bomb threat placed over the area where
she was holding convocation, she kept on going. Another thing significant about this bomb threat
is that instead of people fleeing the area, they stood up right beside her. That is the remarkable
thing about people who speak up for what they believe and overcoming others who do not want
the truth to be known. There are times in our lives when it is clear what a leader is, what type of
person they are, because of the people who choose to follow them.
Continuing on with the conference the next day, there were many workshop choices to
choose. The first one I chose was entitled ‘Where Are You?’ by Darryl Lester. This session was
a reminder of how much volunteering I have done in the past. Philanthropy is important along
with stewardship. “Success is not what you leave to, but what you leave behind-John Maxwell”.
“Given a certain amount of treasure and time what would I do with it?” Sometimes people only
volunteer, because it “makes them look good”. Sometimes people do it out of the goodness of
their hearts. We should give back, because we are now the future. Where we are and how we got
there was not on our own. We must take the initiative to meet others goals and to help them get
to where we are. Otherwise, all that others did for us would be a waste. Mr. Lester mentioned
how tithing is not only in the church. Tithing happens regardless, because we should always be
giving back to someone. People will most likely not remember how much you owned, but what
you did in society.
While I am not a president of an organization, I still found it beneficial to attend the
“Retaining & Motivating Organization Members-The 5 I’s of Retention”. The first “I “ was to
keep members interested. Doing the same thing over and over again could be simple, because it
has already been done before; however, members may become disinterested overtime with a lot
of repetition. The second “I” was inclusiveness. There are many organizations on NCSU and
within some of these organizations are cliques. This workshop really hit on point for me here. I
could think of an organization that I belonged to where the members failed to really bond with us
as new freshman. It automatically set us off from them and in the future would lead to discord.
The third “I” was informed. It is absolutely critical that a group connects with each other and to
make certain that everyone know exactly what is going on. The fourth “I “ was invested.
Whenever you are joining an organization, you want to make sure it is worth sticking around for.
If half the e-board seats are available, it may not seem like the best place you would want to be
unless you were willing to take one of those spots and build it up to what it is supposed to be.
The last “I” was invaluable. Back to the same example of an organization I happened to belong
to, they did not treat the new members as being very valuable. This workshop reinforced how I
should be as a leader and how the experience I went through really shaped me to become a better
person within my organizations.
I was pleased to attend a workshop by our very own Dr. Tracey E. Ray entitled
“Confronting Racism”. I am always interested in how to combat it and I know that racism is not
dead. Dr. Ray emphasized how to confront it, we must analyze the ways of people and why they
say or do the things they do. Personally, I always found the study of people to be fascinating. Dr.
Ray showed us current evidence of racism, including an HP camera that would not follow a
dark-skinned black male, but would follow his white co-worker’s every move. Now this example
was not out right racist, but the problem is the camera obviously was not tested with people of
different complexions when manufactured. Dr. Ray emphasized how to really and truly combat
racism, we must have more diversity within any environment, whether the workplace or
To conclude with my overall experience, I will speak briefly about the most enjoyable
session at the conference. It was “True Colors: Do You Really Know You?” It was presented by
a man who was not black as many people might assume that since the conference was entitled
“National Black Student Leadership” all the presenters must be black. This workshop was based
on four colors: gold, green, blue, and orange. Through this workshop, I found that I knew exactly
who I was and with this more instilled confidence, I would be able to lead more efficiently. This
workshop helped me refine my strengths and weaknesses, because my personality is something
that cannot be helped. Yes, I could change, but who would want to change into something that is
not a true reflection of oneself. I enjoyed this experience very much. There were many times that
I was a leader and had no idea that I was leading. There were times that I was a follower. What I
learned from this conference is that it is okay. I take away knowledge to go forth and put a toe in
the water. Albert Einstein once said “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and
hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” A leader should be good, because it is ordained
for them to pursue greatness for the simple fact that they have all the potential needed to do so.