Weekend Event Recap: #BULEADS

 

This Saturday, September 21st, I had the privilege of attending the first ever #BULEADS (Boston University’s Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Activism, and Design Summit). Student Activities hosted the six-hour event in order to “explore the connection between innovation, collaboration, and social action.” This summit was not only a way for three hundred student leaders to acquire knowledge from fellow and former BU student speakers, but also to network with each other.

BULEADS had an amazing lineup of ten speakers for the day. The “Agenda” included Alumna Talks, Student Talks, and Guest Talks, supplemented by round table discussion questions.

The first agenda point was A Conversation With: Ronnie Cho. Cho was kind enough to make his first public appearance at BULEADS since completing his position as the White House Liaison to Young Americans. Cho encouraged the audience to be concerned with what’s happening in our nation’s capital. Although it may seem like we are powerless as young people, we experience issues such as student loans and employment; our generation has to lead the way to better futures for the next.

The next speaker, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, graduated from BU’s College of Arts and Sciences just two years ago. Since graduation, Ocasio-Cortez has founded her own publishing enterprise and serves to better the generation to come at Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator. She presented a stellar speech that exposed the problems with the current education system in urban communities.

Current BU College of Engineering student, Kelsey Warda, provided the audience with insight about collaboration, asserting oneself at work, and how to approach problems. She reassured us that asking for help from colleagues/classmates is not a weakness and that there is no one right answer to an issue. 

Then, another present BU student, Laurens Spethmann, took the stage. He shared information from the perspective of an entrepreneur, but I later realized how applicable it was to student leadership (and life) in general. His advice for building an organization, company, or just getting through a project: “you need to believe in your idea or vision” or else, who will?

Laurens’ speech segued effortlessly into a presentation by the founder of Cambridge Innovation Center, Tim Rowe. Rowe presented some interesting facts about collaboration and innovation. For instance: coworkers whose offices are in the same corridor are much more likely to collaborate than coworkers merely on the same floor or in the same building. He also suggested that students attend the Venture Café on Thursdays (between 3-8PM) at the CIC offices for an incredible networking opportunity.

David Blanding’s speech shifted the gears to the strategies of achieving social justice. From his experience in academia and personal struggles working in political campaigns, Blanding enlisted BULEADS’ audience to “lead with [their] ears.” In other words, listen to your community: what do people want? Need? How can you acquire those? What is the root issue and how can you solve it?

Sasha Goodfriend is no stranger to answering such challenging questions. As a seasoned coordinator for the Center for Gender, Sexuality and Activism, Sasha has been organizing with other students to combat the issues of rape, housing, and other oppressions on campus. Her talk taught us how to turn “bad press” into “good press” (do it yourself!), take action, create spaces for the community, and practice self-care (because all of that gets tiring!).

The final student speaker, Marc Salerno, led the audience through a mental journey to turn thoughts into ideas, and ideas into reality. He reminded us that college is not all about the GPA; it’s about the experience! Salerno encouraged us to lead our lives by sticking with our passions, because that is what we’re going to remember years from now.

Nicole Fichera’s presentation was one of the best of the day (sorry not sorry!). Fichera earned a degree in Architecture from Northeastern and now serves as the Innovation District Manager at Boston Redevelopment Authority. She used her expertise in architecture and physical space to introduce us to the idea of creativity and innovation within these spaces. To sum up her presentation: a space (whether it be political, social, or physical) will foster creativity if it is integrated, sustainable, aesthetically energizing, and supportive.

The final presenter, Baratunde Thurston, humored us with his take on social justice, racism, and the Twilight series. Thurston has quite the resume: author, stand-up comedian, bouncer, and Harvard College grad. All of his experiences led to an impressive Twitter following, successful creation of Cultivated Wit, and How To Be Black book sales. His presentation restored my faith in the power of humor, humanity, and our generation.

Overall, BULEADS was chockfull of lessons, discourse, and ideas. I hope Student Activities rounds up a bigger and better set of speakers for next year (or semester?) so we can keep up the momentum. BU deserves it.

 

Photo source: http://www.bu.edu/studentactiv...