Fall Leadership Conference

“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas;
they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.”
― Russell H. Conwell, Acres of Diamonds

There’s no doubt in my mind, Russell Conwell was a very smart man.

A preacher living in the rough neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, Dr. Conwell made a simple decision to tutor an underprivileged man and a few of his friends. That class took place 130 years ago and that one decision sparked an entire university based on one principle — finding the diamonds in the rough and nurturing them to their full potential.

I am one of Dr. Conwell’s diamonds, a testament to the spirit that lives on long after his death. Temple gave me the tools and it was up to me to take responsibility and mold my own diamond.

This weekend, I was asked to return to the house that Russ built as a co-facilitator to the Fall Leadership Conference — a gathering of more than 400 student leaders, hosted by the Diamond Leaders. As a Diamond Leader, I gained the self-confidence to be bold enough to follow my dreams, and nothing excited me more than the prospect of giving back to my alma mater and empowering students with that same confidence.

I couldn’t have been more energized knowing some of my favorite campus leaders and mentors would be sharing their insight — Joe Urbanski, Lauren Bullock, and Kate Schaeffer. The conference couldn’t have come at a better time. Joe was giving one of his signature seminars — Preventing the Miserable Career Journey — and it’s one I’ve tried to stick to since hearing it for the first time six years ago.

He preaches finding and adhering to your real GPA — your genius, your passion, and your achievements — knowing that “life is too short to do the things you suck at.” It was a poignant reminder, especially as I look for the next big step in my life.

The students sat in Mitten Hall, listening intently, filling out worksheets, and taking notes…but little did they know, their facilitator was in the back row, doing the exact same thing. I was amazed how, after a year of growth, experiences, and self-discovery in Atlanta, my answers had evolved.

After the morning seminar, I finally got to meet my students. We lunched next to Dr. Conwell’s grave in Founder’s Garden, and then returned to the OwlCove for intense discussions about applying the findings from our self-discovery to our own lives and our responsibility to one another. They brought such unique and new perspectives to lessons I’ve been helping teach at these conferences for so many years. I absolutely learned as much from them as they were meant to learn from me.

Everyone has bumps and bruises on their road to happiness, but remembering your genius, your passion, and your achievements will keep you on the right path.

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