In her opening keynote address at Worcester State University’s third annual Leadership Symposium, Amma Marfo discussed the effects a two-year global pandemic has had on psyches. People have gone from burnout – mental collapse because of stress – to languishing – “a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life.”
“I think we’ve all been here at some point over the last couple of years,” Marfo said.
Marfo’s talk kicked off the April 1 symposium, which drew 25 students for workshops, lectures and activities designed to build professional and interpersonal skills and to network. “The Leadership Symposium provides a unique opportunity for students to challenge their ideas and assumptions about what makes an effective leader and learn skills that they can apply to their own leadership roles and experiences,” said Sarah Potrikus, assistant director of the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development. “Reflecting on the experience, many students share that they enjoyed networking with other student leadership and workshop facilitators, and feel better prepared to return to their leadership roles.”
This year’s theme was wellness, and, to that end, Marfo, an education, writing, and marketing professional, encouraged students to be kind to themselves. She had the audience write down on paper, “I will go easy on myself about ________” and then throw their paper into the recycling bin.
In her talk, Marfo also encouraged action, giving the audience time to draft a plan for a goal they have, then to identify one thing they “can do tomorrow to get to that goal.”
Throughout the event, students attended breakout sessions on topics such as practicing mindfulness, motivating others, effective collaboration, and combating procrastination. When not in sessions, students could visit tables featuring books on leadership and information on counseling services, student involvement, the University’s Wellness Center, and Active Minds, a student organization working to increase awareness of and provide resources for mental health issues.
In his closing address, Dr. Satya Mitra, a member of the Worcester State Foundation Board, shared the story of his path from losing his mother at age three and growing up in poverty in India to earning a Ph.D. and being president and CEO of The Guru Tax and Financial Services in Worcester. Mitra emphasized, the generosity and aid given to him by family, friends, and even strangers – such as the travel agent who paid for Mitra’s plane ticket to the United States for a postgraduate program. “He not only paid for my ticket,” Mitra said, “he instilled in me the idea of paying forward.”
Again and again, Mitra stressed how much he owed to the help he received from others and the importance of helping others in turn. It is this attitude that led him to provide pro-bono tax work for asylum seekers in the Worcester area and to encourage associates, employees, and acquaintances to achieve success. “A good leader produces other leaders,” he said.
He advised students to “be a leader that others would be proud of” and to dream. “And dream high,” he said. “Why not? It costs nothing.”
Beyond the Classroom
Student organizations, athletic teams set to raise funds in Chandler's Challenge
Thirty one student teams from across the university will compete next week in Worcester State’s annual Chandler’s Challenge to raise money for athletics, student clubs and community . . .