The National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference

NJSLC at Niagara FallsOn a warm summer evening in Buffalo, New York, I stood with the Georgetown delegation on the observation deck overlooking the Niagara Falls. In the fading light, the conversation shifted from the day’s events to our lives at Georgetown and then to popular sporting events. As we waited for the lights behind the Falls to turn on, I started to reflect upon all that I had already experienced at the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC). As I continued to mull over the theme of the conference, “Be the Light,” I quickly realized that this theme was particularly relevant in my life at Georgetown—very similar to our group’s desire to see the lights turn on at Niagara Falls.

In one of the lectures that I attended, a philosophy professor from Canisius—Dr. Tanya Loughead—spoke about the importance of a renewed usage of critical thinking in everyday life. She then discussed issues of power and privilege, and encouraged us as leaders at our respective institutions to think critically in our interactions with fellow students who may have different views. Instead of simply dismissing their view, she encouraged us to consider how our society molds their consciousness so that these views are possible. As I listened to students from other Jesuit universities throughout the United States discuss similar problems that they have encountered on their home campuses. As they spoke, I started to consider how I could use these experiences in my own service at Georgetown. In my service with several different social justice campaigns at Georgetown I regularly encounter people with beliefs that are different than my own. Before I attended the conference, I would often become discouraged when I encountered people who felt differently about the work I was engaged in. Motivated by the theme of the conference, I believe that I will be more active in my conversations with other students in order to stress the importance of preserving the Jesuit value of caring for the whole person. Instead of waiting for the opportunity to stress the importance of service (like the lights at the falls), I hope that my service will encourage people to volunteer who may not regularly do so.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have attended the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference at Canisius College. I would like to thank both the Office of Campus Ministry and the Center for Student Engagement for making it possible for me to be present at the conference. I am incredibly excited to return to the Hilltop in the fall and to share my experiences at the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference.

Written by Alek D. Ball (new window), C ’17

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