“It has been a huge part of my experience at UBC,” said Maddy Schulte, a co-chair of this year’s Student Leadership Conference (SLC), looking back at the work she has done with the conference over the course of her undergraduate degree. Alongside fellow co-chair Neema Rimber, who studies economics, Schulte helped lead a diverse team of students to deliver this year's conference.
Schulte, who is currently a fourth-year marketing student, became involved with the SLC in her first year. It has now become a constant in her university career — and a driving force in the lives of thousands more students.
Encouraged by her peers, Schulte applied to be an Active Promotions Leader in her first year, not knowing what conferences were and what her role would be. But after being a part of the committee and witnessing students make strong connections with each other, Schulte was inspired to continue working with the SLC. “People were getting a lot out of it and so I wanted to continue to be a part of the conference.”
Although Schulte’s previous organizational involvement had given her access to varied and significant experiences, it was being a participant herself in the conference that pushed her to apply to become co-chair. “After attending the conference in my third year, I got really excited about seeing myself in the planning committee and seeing what opportunities there were for getting involved in the following year...”
Even though she has been doing this for years, the conference this year was special for Schulte. “Speaking in front of a large crowd made me nervous, it was quite a large audience,” she said, noting that she and a colleague had a dance party in a Chan Centre dressing room to battle her nerves.
The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Beyond Your Lines,’ and it held great importance for Schulte. “It is motivation to push people to try new things that maybe they’re uncomfortable with as far as leadership goes, but see the potential for growth that can come from that. Whether that’s trying something new, talking to someone new or reaching your hand up in class. That’s what ‘Beyond Your Lines’ means to me,” said Schulte.
“Speaking in front of that many people was definitely going beyond my lines for me. I think it’s different for everyone. I think it can apply to a lot of different aspects of student life.”
Organizing the conference didn’t come without its complications. In a team of 20-some students, it was challenging to bring that many people with diverse ideas to work on a singular theme. The main issue concerned members becoming set on specific ideas and not wanting to change — an obstacle that Schulte faced herself but overcame through honest and clear communication.
“Teamwork has been overarching. It’s about looking at what the team wants versus what the individual wants.”
One of Schulte’s biggest learning outcomes was “asking for help.” She shares how she is not someone to reach out for help when needed, but learnt that, “when you’re in a team there are benefits of actually communicating when you’re struggling and there’s people around you who want to support you.”
She did not realize this before, and juggling numerous responsibilities had taken a toll on her. “I’m grateful for the SLC to push me to be more communicative about where I’m at with what I’m working on.”
“I’ve met some of the most incredible people from the experience,” she said looking back, and forward into her future goal of working in large-scale event-planning after graduation. “It has provided me with a lot of opportunities and set a path for what I want to do in the future.”
She has found friends and mentors in the people she has encountered through her four years with the SLC and it has offered her the chance to develop professionally, allowing her to figure out what she wants to do after she graduates. “It has taught me how I can use the skills that I’ve learnt through the SLC, through my degree and through other involvements to make an impact on students.”
Around 1,200 students participate every year to become involved in making the lives of other students better and to improve their own leadership skills. “It’s inspiring to me that so many students care that much about how the campus is doing,” said Schulte.
“I would hope that professionally it offers some sort of direction to students, how they want to use the skills they have in their futures.” Schulte would love to come back in the future after graduating to see what is important to students and what has changed in the student leadership environment — and see to what new heights the SLC will have been taken.
“I hope people meet new people at the event too — meeting people in different faculties and using each other as tools to make things happen.”