Kettering University’s community engagement efforts are trickling down to the student body in the form of a College Town Leadership Summit at the Flint Institute of Arts on Saturday September 28.
Kettering student Andrew Sierra is the principle organizer of the leadership day that will bring together 30 of the top students from each of Flint’s four higher education institutions – Kettering, University of Michigan-Flint, Mott Community College and Baker College – for a day-long event to engage students in a visioning activity for the city.
“I think that many cities have put a focus on collaboration between government and universities. I think that Flint is definitely moving towards becoming a college town but in order to make that effort successful, the input of students is vital,” Sierra said. “I wanted to bring together business and local leaders and the universities but also wanted the students themselves to come together and create an output for the city - create a joint effort for the future of Flint.”
The day-long summit will feature a morning motivational session with a panel of local government and business leaders including: Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Greg Viener, Flint Community President of FirstMerit Bank and director of the Flint Institute of Arts John Henry. The lunch time keynote speaker is the executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League Dan Gilmartin while Congressman Dan Kildee will be the dinner keynote.
“It’s going to be an intense day but they should all come away with a greater sense of purpose and a renewed sense of what they are going to pursue in the future,” said Janice Henry, marketing director at the Flint Institute of Arts. “It’s an opportunity for them to network with professionals and other students on other campuses which promotes the idea of being more connected with the community in which they are attending school.”
The afternoon session will separate the 120 students in attendance into 15 teams with two students from each of the higher education institutions on each team for a case study competition. The 2.5 hour competition will culminate in a 5-minute presentation in front of local business owners and government officials who will be judging the studies based on their ability to solve the problem, create jobs, and overall effectiveness. All the case study prompts are centered on current challenges in Flint and the role that higher education institutions can play in the future of the city.
“In no other conference that I have been in so far has there been consideration for implementation,” Sierra said.
Sierra, an electrical engineering major, has previously participated in five similar leadership conferences across the country but this is the first of its kind in Flint. Sierra came to Kettering from Kearsley High School where he expanded service hours for students from 800 per year to 8,000 as the president of the National Honor Society.
His goal for the college summit is to bring new knowledge to the stakeholders in the city and then have it applied by community leaders. His long-term vision for the participating higher education institutions is to develop new leaders who will begin new ventures and bring jobs back to Flint.
“I think it’s important that we make our student leaders passionate about Flint and what’s happening in their own city so they can continue to give back and contribute and also so Flint can keep more of these top leaders in the area.”