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Conference Connects Student Diversity Leaders from Around the Globe

Conference Connects Student Diversity Leaders from Around the Globe
Jim Norman

Four of our students—Yueanshu “Angel” Fu ’25, Jack Greenberg ’24, Rahee “Ren” Kim ’25, and Tyrese Taylor ’23—had the experience of a lifetime when they attended the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) last week in San Antonio, Texas.

Presented by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders (grades 9-12) from across the U.S. and abroad that focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. This year’s theme was We the People: Leveraging Our Community to Preserve Our Humanity.

The opportunity to be among so many students of all races and cultures was especially meaningful for our Saints in attendance. “Meeting new people and talking about our own stories takes courage,” Angel shared. “I was happy to chat with students who have similar experiences and feel the same way I do. These connections were the most important takeaways from the conference for me. I made some lifelong friends.”

Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, students developed cross-cultural communication skills, designed effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learned the foundations of allyship and networking principles. The conference included large-group sessions and smaller groups allowing for on-on-one dialogue and sharing.

The Canterbury students were accompanied by Edward Ogundeko, Assistant Director of Admission, and Olivia Pena, English Teacher and Coordinator of the School’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Programs. While in San Antonio, Ed and Olivia attended the NAIS People of Color Conference, the organization’s flagship commitment to equity and justice in teaching, learning, and organizational development. Now in its 35th year, the conference continues its mission of providing a safe space for leadership, professional development, and networking for people of color and allies of all backgrounds in independent schools.

By the conclusion of the SDLC, Ren felt a special kinship with all of her peers in attendance. “Having conversations with students in the program was easy and comforting,” she said. “We were all there for the purpose of listening to others and their stories, so being aware that people were there to listen to me felt good. This whole experience made me feel like a different person and educated me about standing up for myself and for others.”