The annual Student Leadership Development Conference is for high school students who were elected as officers for their Career Association (CA). The CA is present in every JAG high school and community program. It was established to give students the opportunity to grow as leaders and prepare for their post-secondary goals. Each CA has officer positions for president, vice president, administrative assistant/parliamentarian, public relations and marketing, fundraising, social awareness, leadership development, community service, civic participation, and career development.
During the conference, student officers completed a Program of Work that details the goals and events for the year that their program would benefit from. They also further developed their leadership skills in breakout sessions that included workshops and activities.
“I liked going into the classroom because I felt like that was the most anxious part. Everyone was kind of freaking out about that because it split up the group, but it was really easy to talk to everybody and the teacher would switch us up to get to know everybody else,” said Camp Verde HS JAG Vice President Felicia Valenzuela.
“What stood out to me as a president is that the president really doesn’t have an official thing to do, except like speeches, and basically the job as president is to encourage others and bind the whole group rather than research and finding the next thing to do, which I found really interesting because I’m usually researching everything,” said LEADS State Parliamentarian and Shadow Mountain HS JAG President Noah Chapman.
For this year’s conference, there were three honorary guest speakers, JAG Arizona President Graciela Garcia Candia; Phoenix College President Dr. Kimberly Britt and Manager of Student Life and Leadership Aris Mosier. The 2022-2023 University of Phoenix LEADS emceed the event for their peers as one of the largest LEADS cohorts JAG has had, with 14 students total.
“The Leadership Conference was a very special moment for me—it opened my eyes that I can do this. I can be in this work world. I can public speak to others. It showed me that I was ready even though I feel doubt and worry sometimes. I will always think back to that moment when it became clear that I can do this,” said LEADS President and West Point HS JAG Vice President/Secretary Jenna Flores.
In addition to leadership development workshops and activities, the conference’s Career and Resource Fair offered students the opportunity to network with the greater community. There were booths for post-secondary education recruiters, nonprofit organizations, and JAG’s employer partners.
“It’s good to get the idea of what is available for us, and I definitely thought that Eegee’s was a cool table because I have only eaten there a few times, but I know they have deep roots with Tucson, which is where I was born. I wanted to get more involved with that….Before I didn’t want to go to college but now being shown the opportunities that come with it, I think it’s really important,” said Camp Verde HS JAG President Matthew Piper.
JAG cultivates relationships year-round with employers and volunteer organizations. They are welcomed to present to JAG programs and recruit for open jobs, internships, and volunteer positions. These relationships are invaluable to the students while they explore career and education/training options during and after high school.
“One thing that I know I would like to do is something in business. I don’t know what aspect yet, and what way I want to go, but before, in my first year of high school, I didn’t want to go to college. Now, I’m thinking of going to a bigger college, somewhere far from home to get out of my circle and just do something different,” Valenzuela said.
The Student Leadership Development Conference was originally established to bring the greater Phoenix community and statewide JAG programs together for networking, resource-sharing, and fostering lasting connections. As the number of program locations grows, the conference will evolve to meet the needs of even more inspiring student leaders.
“We are grateful for our community and employer partners who continue to invest in the futures of our students and alumni. Together, we make opportunities accessible for youth across Arizona to grow and lead in life and career,” said JAG President Graciela Garcia Candia.
Stay in the know about our events and student/alumni stories at our Insider News Blog.