Three of Holy Trinity’s top female student leaders had the opportunity to attend the National Student Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. this summer. 

Shaisy Ortega ‘23, Joannaly Sanchez ‘23, and Monay Vaca ‘22 were each awarded full scholarships for travel, lodging, and attendance at the conference, which gives students from around the country a chance to participate in enrichment programs such as hands-on seminars, guest speakers, career fairs, leadership training, all while living on a college campus. 

Once they arrived in Washington, the days at the conference were filled with engaging sessions that allowed each student to dive into the types of leadership qualities they already have and how best to use the skills they possess. Joannaly ‘23 was challenged to step out of her comfort zone. In participating in conference sessions, she had to be outgoing, interact with many different people, and share her thoughts and opinions – things she is not used to doing. “I realized that being a good leader as well is being vulnerable. It helps you [have] a better connection with other people,” reflected Joannaly. 

Part of being vulnerable is being able to talk about the things that matter to you. That is a lesson Shaisy learned at the conference and she has been able to incorporate in her daily life back in Chicago. She has started having important conversations with her friends and classmates about the many issues facing our society today. Before the conference, her friends would not have talked about these topics. Shaisy’s time at the conference allowed her to see the importance of being a leader who is open and willing to have hard conversations. “I learned that if we don’t talk about how we feel, we won’t have a collective group to help figure out a solution.” Shaisy has already begun putting this into practice among her peers and plans to continue this in her leadership roles at school. 

Monay ‘22 learned many valuable lessons at the conference, and as a senior really valued the insight she gained on the college experience through her interactions with conference leaders. Monay enjoyed hearing from the conference TA’s, current college students, who were able to share about their transition to college life. “I will be the first in my family to go away to college, and to have someone share their experiences with me was very useful,” Monay said. She is now beginning her college application process and is looking forward to a career in emergency medicine and disaster relief with the goal of working with the FBI or FEMA one day in the future. As for current Tigers interested in attending the NLSC next summer, Monay could not recommend the experience more. “Holy Trinity should send students to the conference again, 110%. It was a life-changing experience.”

The conference also included a service project, allowing our Holy Trinity students to put their Holy Cross values into action outside of the Chicagoland area. Shaisy, Joannaly, and Monay each went to a local food bank and helped package meals and other essential items for those in the Metro DC area who are in need. “To be able to help someone outside of our community and normal circumstances was a fulfilling experience,” Monay said. 

We are grateful for the generosity of The Salisbury Foundation, whose support made this experience possible for our students. We know Joannaly, Monay, and Shaisy will only continue to grow as leaders and shape the Holy Trinity community in a positive way because of their time at NLSC. 

To learn more about the National Student Leadership Conference, visit their website

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