Relax, Slow Down, and Help Plan a Conference?

Zac Schroepfer (back row, second from left) with NJSLC student attendees from across the country.

In July 2017, Georgetown University hosted the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC), a national student leadership conference for students of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities around the country as well as for students of international Jesuit universities. NJSLC provides student leaders from these universities an opportunity to come together and cultivate skills in student leadership based in the Jesuit tradition.

Junior Zac Schroepfer, MSB’19, a student volunteer who helped plan the conference over the past year, shared his experience with us in an interview.

What did you do this past summer?

This past summer I primarily interned at a Digital Media Firm called Chong + Koster, where I gained great analytical and strategic marketing skills. I also had the opportunity to further explore the amazing city of D.C. and venture out into some surrounding landmarks, such as Harper’s Ferry.

You were on the planning committee for the National Jesuit Student Leadership Conference (NJSLC) this year. What was that like? What were your responsibilities?

Being on the NJSLC Planning Committee was an experience I wouldn’t trade for any other. This past year, I served as the chair of Advocacy Day. In this role, it was my responsibility to work with one of the co-chairs of the conference to plan the logistics, send out the communications, and execute the actual event. Advocacy Day itself consisted of us taking all 350 delegates down to Capitol Hill, where they had the opportunity to meet with their Congress-people and staff to discuss and advocate for issues that face institutions of higher education. An amazing part of being on the conference planning committee was the ability of our team to be extremely flexible. While each of us was responsible for own portfolio, we worked as a team to ensure every event was a success. The experience was not only unforgettable but also a great developmental opportunity to continue learning skills that will allow me to be a better team member in any situation.

Reflecting on your experiences this past summer, did you learn anything new?

As I mentioned before, an amazing skill I learned was how to be an impactful member of a team, without overstepping my boundaries and interfering with another person’s responsibilities. Due to the cohesiveness of our team, I was performing tasks way out of my portfolio because we all wanted the team to succeed. It was an amazing team-building activity.

Furthermore, I learned a lot about Jesuit values and the importance of encapsulating them in my everyday life. Before this conference, I already considered myself a member of the Jesuit community of Georgetown, but this conference further solidified my appreciation for the values of reflection, contemplation in action, and cura personalis.

Have these experiences affected how you will approach this academic year?

Specifically, my experience of broadening my understanding of Jesuit values in my Georgetown life will benefit my upcoming academic year extensively. By living out the values of being contemplative in my actions and really reflecting on each day and what I have learned, I hope to live a better life. I hope this conference will be a catalyst in my life for further understanding of my passions and how I can convert those passions into actions that are truly for others.

This is your junior year, what advice would you give to your freshman self?

If I could give advice to my freshmen self, it would be twofold. Relax, and slow down. While these two may seem like they are getting at the same thing, let me explain further. My freshman year was full of anxiety and rejection. Due to the club culture at Georgetown, I was getting rejected from club after club. At first, I took this continued rejection personally and I felt that, for some reason, I was not wanted here on campus. I would tell my freshman year self to relax because everything will get better. I would tell myself: “You will find friends, you will find groups that you belong to, and you will find out more who you are. Just continue to find things that you love to do, and people that you love to hang out with will come along.”

My second piece of advice, to slow down, is super relevant to me, even today. There are so many miracles that one gets to experience at Georgetown. Whether it’s getting to see an influential speaker like the Pope at Capitol Hill, or meeting someone from a culture that you typically would never interact with, or connecting with that professor that always intimidated you, or even simply taking a look at the monuments at the National Mall, there is something to make you happy about every day. Don’t let anyone dictate your happiness besides you. Enjoy the everyday miracles and let those fuel your fire to make others happy, because that is where you will find true happiness.