Organizers of this year’s “Centennial Edition” of UTEP LIVE have planned a month’s worth of events to promote student leadership and engagement. The activities begin with “The Links of Leadership” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Tomás Rivera Conference Center on the third floor of Union Building East and continue over the next several weeks through Feb. 21.
Cortez, an El Paso native who expects to graduate in May, said her LIVE involvement led to volunteer opportunities on campus and in the community where she has further developed the leadership skills learned at the conference.
“I would come back every year (to UTEP LIVE) and learn something new. The content was never the same,” said Cortez, who will start a teacher residency program in Washington, D.C., this fall. Her goal is to be involved in teacher education reforms with a focus on special education. “What I learn helps me with networking and keeps me on top of things.”
Corey Bailey, director of UTEP’s Student Engagement & Leadership Center, said LIVE organizers expanded this year’s schedule to give participants additional opportunities to learn about leadership from students, administrators and invited guests from the community and beyond.
Bailey understands students lead busy lives, but encouraged everyone to research the LIVE programs at sa.utep.edu/live and attend the ones that would benefit them most academically, personally and professionally. Among the month’s highlights is the “Lead Like a Boss” LIVE finale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, in the Union. It will include opportunities to learn different leadership styles and to network with peers and professionals. The finale cost is $10 and includes lunch.
“Let your passion be your guide,” Bailey said. “We have tried to make these events interactive, thought provoking and fun. They’re worth going to, so come by when you can, even if all you can do is pop in and pop out.”
He said the conference’s message has resonated with the students because attendance continues to increase. More than 1,000 students participated in last year’s conference compared to a few hundred several years ago when it was called “Shape Your Life, Shape Your Future.” He credits student organizations and past participants for positive word of mouth.
Gina Nuñez-Mchiri, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology and a past LIVE organizer, is among the faculty members who push their students to attend LIVE events because leadership skills are critical to building confidence and self-esteem.
She said all students have the capacity to be a leader, but they do not take that step without encouragement. For that reason, she urged other faculty and staff to encourage the students they know to attend all or part of the LIVE experience, and then challenge students to develop their leadership abilities and take on leadership roles before they graduate.
“The more opportunities our students can have to network with others, learn from interactive workshops, and meet successful role models and mentors, the better for our students,” Nuñez-Mchiri said.
Daniel Perez is a senior writer in UTEP's Office of University Communications.