Each year the UNL College of Business Administration sends a select group of students to the U.S. Naval Academy Leadership Conference in Annapolis, Md. The goal of the conference is to bring together the best minds in the practice and study of leadership to exchange ideas and experiences among both military and civilian students.
This year’s participants included James Verhoeff, a management and marketing major from Cortland, Neb.; Emily Phillips, an actuarial science major from Overland Park, Kan. and Chris Spanel, a finance major from Lincoln, Neb. The three students attended the conference from January 27 - 30.
Each student took away a unique perspective from the conference. Verhoeff came to understand that being a leader means having to let go of a me-first attitude.
“A major theme that I took away from the conference was the importance of servant leadership,” Verhoeff said. “The best leader is the one who serves the rest of their group the best. Leaders always come last.”
Spanel came to a better understanding of the importance of leadership during difficult times.
“The most important quote that spoke to me was 'the only way to build perseverance is through the testing of your faith,'” Spanel said. “This quote embodies what the conference was about: leadership in the face of adversity. We are often challenged in our day-to-day lives, but by having faith in ourselves and our vision, we can overcome that so that we may lead others.”
Betsy Klemme, an academic adviser at CBA, explained that the expectation for these select students is that they bring back a couple of ideas that could be implemented to improve the college. To that end, Phillips has already begun to think about ways she can make a positive impact.
“I would like to implement a program to build servant leadership skills in the college,” Phillips said. "Most students currently think power means leadership, but we need to educate them on ways to create successful leadership based on trust and hard work, not position. I think a leadership class focused on researching, learning and practicing servant leadership would be an awesome addition to CBA.