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Local universities collaborate on first-ever Student Leadership Summit

Published on Mar 13, 2018 by Evangel University News

Campus leaders from Evangel University, Missouri State University, Drury University and Ozarks Technical Community College have teamed up to produce Springfield’s first-ever Student Leadership Summit.

The two-day event will be held on the campus of Drury University on Friday & Saturday, March 23 & 24, 2018. One hundred student leaders are expected to attend the inaugural event.

At the beginning of the current school year, Shane Puente, Evangel’s student body president, began dreaming of a way to bring students togetherbeyond campus borders.

“There is so much potential for students to work in conjunction with one another,” said Puente. “I had to figure out a way to create an avenue for this potential to flourish and thrive. But I couldn’t do it by myself.”

After teaming up with Brandon McCoy of Missouri State University, Dhruv Sitapara of Drury University, Rachel Stobbe of Ozarks Technical Community College and other student leaders, the group created an event to do just that.

The intent of the Summit is to bring students together in an environment that will promote networking, individual growth and community involvement.

SEE in-depth Q&A with Shane Puente about developing the Student Leadership Summit, below*

Sgf Student Leadership Summit logoEvent Highlights

• On Friday, attendees will hear from established community leaders Mayor Ken McClure, Rachel Anderson of MSU, Dr. Charles Taylor of Drury, and Dr. Kregg Hood of Convoy of Hope.

Students are asked to meet in Drury’s Findlay Student Center — registration begins at 3:30 p.m., and the Friday sessions run from 4 to 6 p.m.

• On Saturday, attendees will spend the morning of the Summit’s second day volunteering at ten local organizations including Convoy of Hope, Ozark Food Harvest, I Pour Life, and the Pregnancy Care Center. Students are asked to arrive at their assigned volunteer locations at 8:45 a.m..

After lunch, the students will meet back at Drury’s Trustee Science Center for the afternoon session of the Summit, which runs from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Afternoon speakers include Dr. Tracy McGrady of OTC, Travis D. Schilla of MSU, and Dr. Carol Taylor, president of Evangel University.

With the foundation in place, Puente and his team can look forward to what’s ahead.

“My hope is that this network grows and grows, until it overflows and covers this city with an abundance of people who are passionate about their community, and are willing to do what it takes to see it thrive,” said Puente.

For more information and a full schedule, contact Shane Puente at:

WRITTEN BY: Nate Sampson / PKL


2018-03 EU Student Leaders
Evangel student leaders registered to attend the first Student Leadership Summit with MSU, Drury, OTC and Evangel on March 23-24, 2018, debating between posing for a serious photo or a funny one. // PHOTO BY: Gabby Gordon (CLICK TO ENLARGE)


Q: Where did the idea for the Student Leadership Summit first come from? How did the idea become reality?

A: “After being elected to the position of Student Body President at Evangel, I began dreaming of a project that could provide a greater impact not only in the lives of our students, but in the Springfield Community as a whole. I wanted to do right by my students, which meant doing everything in my power to optimize their Evangel Experience.

“Part of that drive was recognizing that our students did not have enough interaction with the other students in this community. Springfield is home to over 20,000 college students, who are some of the most innovative and passionate in the whole of the US. There is so much untapped potential for these students to work in conjunction with one another. I had to figure out a way to create an avenue for this potential to flourish and thrive.

“In addition, I wanted to do what was responsible for the city of Springfield. Students come from all around the world to study and live in this community for 4 years of their lives. If we are going to be a part of this community, enjoying all it has to offer, we need to be conscious of this cities struggles, and work together to improve this place we call home.

“Obviously, I couldn’t do this by myself. I reached out to the student offices of the other schools here in town, (and) the faculty in all of these schools put me in contact with their student leaders. Through various phone calls and emails, these leaders — Brandon McCoy, Student Body President of MSU, Dhruv Sitapara, Student Body President of Drury, and Rachel Stobbe, Honors Society President of OTC — and I began to dream together, began brainstorming how we could reach in to this opportunity and provide the best means of accomplishing our goal.

“After about a month of electronic communication, we decided it was time to meet face to face. Our first three meetings were held at Brick and Mortar Coffee, where, through our brainstorming, the winning idea became the Leadership Summit; a two day event that would educate students on the Springfield community, give them the opportunity to interact and network with other students, and help them to cultivate leadership skills.

“Through conversation, debate, and discussion, we began to narrow down exactly what we wanted. An event like this has (as far as I know) never been attempted in Springfield. That being said, we had the freedom to shape this summit however we wanted it to look. It has been student lead, through and through. While this idea, and the initiative started here at Evangel with myself, this project could never have went through without the cooperation and dedication of the other great schools here in Springfield.”

Q: In what ways do you believe the Student Leadership Summit will impact the community, both in the near and distant future?

A: “My hope for this summit, and the effects there-of, are both grand and simple. This summit is going to be an incredible step forward in inter-school cooperation. There will be 100 students in attendance. Each school will be sending their best students — the kind of people who don’t need someone to hold their hand to get through a project. That is not our goal. We are simply pointing these students down the right path; a path that will intersect with other students, who will run a long side them, and help them establish all sorts of new community projects.

“My hope is that my personal leadership team (those who have helped create this summit) will be able to regularly check up on the teams that will be formed during the summit. In following up with these teams, we hope to be able to encourage them to move forward with new projects, provide them with resources, and to push them forward to the goals they have established. My hope is that, in 5 years’ time, this summit continues to flourish and thrive, growing bigger and stronger, until it becomes a model that can be replicated across the United States, in cities similar to Springfield. This starts in our city, but this has potential to reach across to all sorts of universities, that are dedicated to improving the lives of their students and of their communities.

“As I said, though, my hope is also simple. In part, I have already achieved my goal. This leadership team that has been working by my side are no longer just colleagues. They are resources. They each have skills that I do not have, and I have built the connection there that allows us to work together even after this summit is over.

“Yet, even more important than that; they are my friends. They are people that I can enjoy being around, outside of the context of our business. If this summit were to fall through, or some catastrophe prohibited it from happening, I have still built connections, both professional and personal, across the city of Springfield, which will benefit myself and them for the rest of my life.”

Q: What do you hope Evangel students, as well as other students involved, will take away from the Student Leadership Summit?

A: “My hope is that our students will walk away from this summit with a passion for this city, and a desire to work alongside their peers to accomplish the impossible. I want them to walk away, having heard from leaders in our community, with a greater understanding of the specific struggles our Springfield faces, and I want them to walk away with a greater understanding of how vital they are in this community, and how they can be leaders in their own right. I want them to walk away with new experiences, and with the confidence to put that experience into action. I want them to walk away with new connections, new friendships, and to become part of a network of exceptional students across this city.

“My hope is that these connections don’t stop with the 100 students at the summit. My hope is that this network grows and grows, until this level of exceptionalism overflows and covers this city with an abundance of people who are passionate about their community, and are willing to do what it takes to see it thrive.

“My hope is to see our students lead projects that lessen or even obliterate food insecurity in our city. My hope is to see our students lead projects that help people improve their lives and end the poverty in our great community. My hope is to see students lead projects that speak out in awareness and break the cycles of domestic abuse in Springfield. My hope is to see our students lead projects that encourage and love on students and end depression and suicide in our home. My hope is to see our students lead.”