Students embrace faith at leadership conference

Elizabeth Shewan, Staff writer

A group of Mercyhurst students recently attended Leadership Together, a conference held at Slippery Rock University.

More than 200 students attended the event, including four from Mercyhurst: Chandler Brandetsas, sophomore Hospitality Management major; Sarah Brennan, senior Public Health major; Mackenzie Ryan, freshman Forensic Anthropology major; and Emilie Yochim, sophomore Sports Medicine major. They were accompanied by Jenell Patton, assistant director of Campus Ministry.

Leadership Together is a creation of the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), an interdenominational Christian ministry. According to its website, the CCO “calls college students to serve Jesus Christ with their entire lives.”

The CCO works with college campus ministries, designing the ministry to meet the needs of each individual campus.

Leadership Together is only one of many events hosted by the CCO. According to the CCO website, “Leadership Together is a gathering that challenges college student leaders to live out their biblical worldview on campus and invite others to do the same.”

The Mercyhurst group was excited for the opportunity to learn.

“The idea is they want to do some sort of group training for student leaders,” said Patton. “The students who attended are leaders of various ministries within campus ministry.”

Patton led her own session during the conference, focused on growth mindset and created specifically for student athletes — a group she is familiar with thanks to her time spent coaching volleyball. She also intended it for individuals who struggle with perfectionism.

“So then we looked at what’s the biblical model of self-care, and looking at the model that Jesus offers us … that there’s a way of living all of life as a form of worship,” said Patton. “So he actually offered us the idea of self-care before that language came into existence.”

Mercyhurst students who attended the conference attended sessions and afterwards shared what they learned with each other.

“It was a very rewarding and educational experience for me,” said Brennan. “We got to touch on things that I hadn’t thought of before. My breakout session was going through the Bible in 80 minutes and I felt like, even in that short amount of time, I was able to gain a lot more knowledge and a better perspective on the Bible than I had before.”

The conference was a great opportunity for the students to learn new leadership skills and also share what they learned with their peers.

“We were able to have a group time as well as breakout sessions where we were able to interact on a more personal level with fellow students and the teachers,” Brennan said.