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Mark Conference speakers set for March

Cathy Bao-Bean, a popular author, spoke at last year's Mark Conference. This year's conference will take place on March 5. – Photo by Michelle Klejmont

Students and other members of the University community will soon listen to a neuroscientist, a poet and the founder of a non-profit organization, along with more than a dozen other speakers at the Mark Leadership Conference.

Rutgers is set to hold its fourth Mark Conference, a day devoted to leadership, surprises, inspiration and connection, on Saturday, March 5, 2016, in the Livingston Student Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Robyn Ginese, director of Leadership and Experiential Learning.

“The Mark Conference is a student-driven, innovative event that showcases a diverse array of speakers that rose to the occasion and made their mark on society in a variety of different ways,” Ginese said.

Each year, 15 to 20 different speakers take the stage and ignite a spark in the audience.

“Whether it be science and technology, non-profit work, athletics, business and entrepreneurship, fitness and wellness, communication, overcoming obstacles or feminism — there is a speaker at this conference that will empower students to find their niche and lead with integrity,” she said in an email.

This year's lineup includes Carvens Lissaint, a Haitian-American international award-winning poet, actor, singer and playwright, Wise Young, founding director of the W.M Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience and one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists and Sir Jose Bright, founder of the Teboho Trust in South Africa.

The conference inspires students to become leaders and to pursue their passions, said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Felicia McGinty in an email.

Students can get leadership experience by becoming an Ignite Speaker. Every year, eight students are trained to be Ignite Speakers to tell their story.

Ignite Speakers are trained extensively on skills like public speaking, story telling and slide design, Ginese said. 

“(The Ignite Speakers) work hard to master for the Mark Stage,” she said. “They have five minutes to inspire others while they talk about their mark.”

The Ignite experience is a favorite at the Mark Conference. The audience’s response to the vulnerability and presence of the Ignite Speakers is "magical," she said.

While the attendees at the Mark Conference are primarily Rutgers students, the event has become so popular that other nearby institutions have started purchasing tickets as well.

Students at Rutgers should take advantage of the full experience, Ginese said.

The conference has many surprises in store including laser tag, balloon pits and the speaker sessions.

“I encourage strongly students to attend, you will be inspired,” McGinty said in an email.

The early-bird tickets for Rutgers students are $20 while supplies last.

Students can also get involved with the Mark Conference by applying to be Mark Captains. The applications will go live at the conference.

“(The Mark Captain) is a leadership position in its own right,” Ginese said. “Students learn event planning, strategic planning, peer management, marketing and promotion, details and logistics, creative problem-solving and how to critically think out of the box.”

The purpose of the conference is to encourage students to think critically about the mark they will leave on the world around them.

According to the website, the Mark Conference is a leadership development program that is "imaginative, innovative and intentionally designed."

“We think its important to empower students now and help them realize that life and purpose don’t first start after graduation,” she said. “We want to celebrate the mark and legacy the students will leave, and empower them to realize it now.”

The conference is a student led and initiated event, McGinty said.

“It highlights the fact that students can be agents of change on campus, in the nation and across the globe,” she said.

Anybody could find something for them at the event, Ginese said. Attendees would just need to ensure they take full advantage of the offerings.

“Be present in every way. Engage with each other, meet someone new, introduce yourself to a speaker, go to the energizers and cheer for your favorite speaker,” Ginese said. “(The Mark Conference) is a full day of leadership, surprises, inspiration and connection."


Ria is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in genetics and minoring in psychology. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. You can find her on Twitter at @riarungta.

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