Atlanta conference gives Brandywine students a new take on leadership

MEDIA, Pa. — Neeka Pharaud, a junior business major and president of Brandywine’s Student Government Association (SGA), thought she knew what to expect when she left for a student conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

“I’ve attended lots of leadership conferences as SGA president,” she said. “I went into the conference thinking it would be your typical leadership workshop — a chance to bond with my SGA executive team and learn more about practical leadership techniques.”

The conference, Confidence-Con, turned out to be very different than she expected.

While typical student leadership conferences focus on the functional tools of campus leadership, Confidence-Con focuses on leading from the inside-out — building inner confidence and making self-care part of the leadership process.

According to its website, Confidence-Con is “the first and only conference that focuses on a full-service approach to improving confidence and self-esteem.” The conference brings speakers together from a variety of professions to teach mental health, confidence building, relationship building, motivation, physical and financial fitness, diversity and other topics.

Conference speakers included motivational speaker Stan Pearson, founder of Max Results Fitness Davius Billingslea, Women's National Basketball Association all-star Rita Williams and Amazon best-selling author Crystal Stretching.

For Pharaud, Confidence-Con’s “inside-out” focus offered a fresh angle on the demands of leadership.

“A lot of leaders think they have to care for everyone else, but fail to ‘choose themselves,’” she said. “But ultimately, when you take that inside-out approach and focus on self-help first, you’ll be a better leader, more emotionally secure and more prepared to help others.”

Confidence-Con gave students the chance to think “inside-out” not only as individuals, but as leadership teams. Brandywine’s SGA officers attended the conference together, providing them with a shared experience to relate back to their duties on campus.

“This was the first time I’ve had my whole executive board with me at a conference,” Pharaud said. “We built a special bond. I think it will give us a better level of communication on campus. We also have a new sense of resolve. It’s easy to get pessimistic when you think about obstacles, but as a team, we have a new resolve to finish off this year a little stronger.”