Students discuss role of faith and values at Missouri Governor's Student Leadership Forum

Thursday, January 17, 2013
An outside look of the Missouri Capitol building in Jefferson City, Mo. Students heard from a number of speakers at the Missouri Governor’s Leadership Forum, including former Missouri Speaker of the House Rod Jetton and Gov. Jay Nixon. (Jeff Roberson ~ Associated Press)
Students were given the opportunity to tour the Missouri Capitol building during their stay. This is a bird’s-eye view of the rotunda.

The 26th annual Missouri Governor's Student Leadership Forum was held in Jefferson City, Mo., Jan. 9-11, hosting more than 65 college students from across the state and focusing on faith and values in leadership. Students were given the opportunity to share their own experiences and beliefs with each other in order to become stronger leaders in their communities.

This year, two Southeast Missouri students were invited to participate in the forum.

Cape Girardeau native Meg Goodman is a junior at Southwest Baptist University. As her university's student association president, Goodman was nominated as a representative because she is a campus leader.

"Our university president nominated students who were all leaders in different areas on campus," Goodman said. "They wanted us all to bring back what we learned and use it to lead our different groups."

At the forum, students heard from guest speakers who shared thoughts on leadership and the role of faith and values.

Among these speakers was Rod Jetton, the former Missouri Speaker of the House who pleaded guilty in 2011 to misdemeanor assault after admitting he choked and struck a woman in the face during a sexual encounter.

Goodman described Jetton's speech as surprisingly honest and candid.

"He told us that in school, people will be positive and give you a lot of encouragement, but you have to be realistic," Goodman said. "You have to realize being a leader won't always be easy, problems will come, so you shouldn't be prideful."

Students were also given the opportunity to tour the Capitol building and the governor's mansion, where Gov. Jay Nixon gave a speech and answered questions from the group.

"I liked that he took the time to talk with us," Goodman said. "The governor actually gets to choose whether or not he wants to continue the forum every year, and I think it's great that he realizes how important it is to continue this."

Kris Cook, Scott City native and sophomore at Missouri Baptist University, agrees that the governor's forum is a unique opportunity for student leaders.

"I was one of the students nominated to help get our student government off the ground," said Cook. "We want to bring what we've learned about leadership back to campus and apply it."

Cook said the experiences that stand out to him took place during student group discussions. Between the speeches and tours, the students were split into small groups and allowed to share and discuss their own thoughts on leadership.

"I got to meet leaders from other campuses and discuss new ideas with them," Cook said. "We all got the chance to really think about the concept of servant leadership."

Like Goodman, Cook found the guest speakers not only informative, but sincere. From CEOs to sportscasters, Cook said listening to the experiences of leaders from "different walks of life" gave him a unique perspective.

Cook also said he learned not to overlook the importance of group work as a whole.

"It's important to find a group that compliments each other," Cook said. "You want to make sure that everyone in your group works together, not just a few."

After attending the forum, Cook said he is ready to better serve his campus as a stronger leader.

Two student leaders from Southeast Missouri State University, Kevin Magnan, student representative on the university's board of regents, and Jerrid Snyder, an officer in the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, were also nominated to attend the event.

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