A packed luncheon hall of student leaders Thursday, April 14 from Mississippi’s 15 community colleges was a perfect venue from the state’s top leader – and community college grad – to address the topic of leadership.
“I think leaders are very credible,” Bryant told the 2016 Mississippi Community College Student Leadership Conference during a keynote address to the annual session, held this year at Eagle Ridge Conference Center on Hinds Community College’s Raymond Campus. “The leaders I have met always have been. It’s impossible for you to be a leader if you do not have a positive attitude about life.”
Bryant, a 1975 graduate of Hinds, addressed a conference themed “Guiding the way into the 21st Century.” Study sessions amongst student leaders attending this year’s conference, many of them members of each college’s student government associations, included education in the future, organizational change management, strategic philanthropy, and encouraging student involvement on campus, among other topics.
The second-term governor spoke of recent economic and workforce development projects in the state, including Yokohama Tire Corp., which opened plant in West Point in 2015, and Continental Tire, which plans to complete a $1.45 billion facility in western Hinds County in 2019.
He also mentioned the kinds of skills current student leaders need to become leaders after they graduate.
“Life is full of difficulties for leaders,” he said. “You have to have that faith you can do remarkable things. But, remarkable things come with tough decisions. I will tell you, leaders, that you will have to make difficult decisions that a lot of people will not like.
“If you’re going to be a leaders, you’ve got to understand the pioneers take the arrows. The guys out front are going to be the point of the spear. You’ve got to take criticism, because nothing gets done without other people being critics.”
Student leaders said they’re already applying their own experiences in top roles on campus to what they want to do in their chosen area of study.
“The speech was very inspirational to me, for how I can change of the minds of my peers and the minds of people older than me,” said Kadaymen Johnson, of Florence, district president of Hinds’ Associated Student Government and president of the organization for the Rankin Campus. Johnson is an Exercise Science major and aspires to be a personal trainer and own his own business.
“It reminds me I can do different things that make this world and country we live in a whole lot better,” he said. “Opportunities presented to me, I have to take advantage of them.”
Taylor Pace, of Vicksburg, plans to major in criminal justice at Delta State University after his leadership days at Hinds are over.
“I really think he made a good impact on the leaders in the room here today,” said Pace, president of programs for Associated Student Government and president of Alpha Omega Chi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at the Vicksburg-Warren Campus.
“He spoke to how Mississippi how it’s grown from what it used to be, in that companies who are choosing between other countries to put in a business and they choose Mississippi over other countries and other states. That’s saying something. It’s very impressive.”