Scrolling Headlines:

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

UMass students inspired at leadership conference

By: Gisel Saillant

Collegian Staff

All photos courtesy of Gisel Saillant

This is my perspective on the 24th Annual Carroll F. S. National Black Student Leadership Development Conference in Washington D.C., which I attended from Jan. 8-11. Aside from a one hour flight in a matchbox of a plane, the trip to D.C. was smooth. When we arrived at the Hyatt Hotel, we were very impressed with the hospitality and our rooms. We spent the afternoon sightseeing at Union Station and Capitol Hill before heading back to dinner at the hotel.


The next day we had to be in the ballroom by 8 a.m. No breakfast was being served, and it was too late to buy something at Starbucks. So I had to pay $6.50 for a muffin and a banana from the hotel’s breakfast vendor. This was alarming! I tried to hustle another muffin, but the lady was not budging.


Luckily, the workshops that day made up for my bad breakfast experience. In the Collegian article published Jan. 27, Kimya Hedayat-Zadeh gave great detail on the keynote speakers that presided during the weekend conference. This post focuses on the workshop I attended. This included an array of presentations from “Did I Ever Tell You That You Were My Shero?” to “Beyond Talk: Best Practices for Helping College Men of Color Find Success.”

One of the more outstanding workshops was entitled “Black Thighs, Black Guys, and Bedroom Lies,” after the facilitator, Hasani Pettiford’s book. I honestly remember just following the crowd for this workshop, since I forgot my agenda. Regardless of how I got there, I’m glad I stayed for this intense workshop!


Mr. Pettiford not only lectured, but created scenarios that helped us understand the tangled web of sexual issues in relationships. His presentation was appropriate for the college students present, because most of the scenarios dealt with social games that happen on college campuses, like “who is the player and who is getting played.” He created an interesting scenario demonstrating how sex isn’t just physical but also mental. He picked a number of people from the audience and created a chain behind one person to demonstrate how the people you have sex with deposit their emotional complexities on to you. If you have sex with several people, regardless of any “friend with benefits” agreement, that person is still emotionally attached to you and you to them.

Another workshop I attended was entitled, “Changing the Leader Within.” It was hosted by Jeff Johnson: BET host, producer and author also known as “Cousin Jeff.”


I personally took notes that detail strategies that can enhance the relationship between a student leader and the campus community. In this workshop, it was helpful that Johnson infused his personal failures and successes as part of the learning process in becoming a student leader. He mentioned that throughout his life in a leadership position in the NAACP, he felt he was the “Biggest negro since King.” He used this experience to transmit a level of humility that everyone must have, so his or her accomplishments do not become his or her universe. Cousin Jeff mentioned that surrounding yourself with people that are honest about your actions is essential.

“’No one around me held me accountable’… is a formula for insanity,” Johnson said. He broke it down as follows. Having leadership means that you are an example for people, and people can still follow you in your mistakes. This can be attained by admitting you are not perfect, learning to exist in silence and by surrounding yourself with people that can help you change.

Overall the conference was a reflective experience, at least for me, to know that people all around the nation are engaging in discourse about race, privilege, leadership, ethics and religion; as well as how to enhance your campus experience and exploring these complexities.

Gisel Saillant can be reached at

One Response to “UMass students inspired at leadership conference”
Leave A Comment