Four political science majors -- Vickie Hawkins-Stewart, David Schaller, Fernando Luciano and Arayon Washington -- were selected to represent UNT Dallas at last week's 15th Annual Diversity and Leadership Conference at the Hilton Anatole Dallas, where they heard speeches from General Colin Powell, President Barack Obama and actress America Ferrera.
"My favorite part of the conference was being with being with my fellow classmates," Schaller said. "The Anatole and the conference is something everyone should experience, and it was an honor to represent my school in such a professional environment. Did I mention Barack Obama, Collin Powell, and America Ferrera?"
Each of the four students was selected for being among the outstanding performers in political science courses, and all have taken several courses in political science that deal with the politics and history of race, ethnicity and diversity.
Throughout this special, three-day event, the students also attended panel discussions and developmental workshops.
Hawkins-Stewart said she found the "Most Powerful & Influential Women Roundtable," particularly meaningful. She represents many students at UNT Dallas, those who have taken a non-traditional approach to earning a college degree.
"The journey of obtaining my undergrad degree has been a long one," she said. "I started, then stopped. I became a wife, a mother, my sister's guardian, just life in general took over. During this journey, I questioned myself and my choices. How ironic that question would be answered during the 'Most Powerful & Influential Women Roundtable.' Michele Harradence [Senior Vice President, Gas Transmission & Midstream Operations at Enbridge], I do believe you were speaking directly to me when you said, 'You don't grow if you always have a safety net. You are never your own development and growth.'
"My family was my safety net," Hawkins-Stewart continued. "Once I let go of the doubt, stepped out on faith and remembered my WHY, my safety net became my biggest support system and here I sit, a senior. A senior who will always remember my why."
Each student came away from the conference with new perspectives.
"The conference gave me a whole new set of goals, as there are so many successful people in many fields," Schaller said. "It broadened my mind, which is the purpose of education."