Changing the World: Lessons Learned at the 2016 University Student Leaders Symposium | Thomas De Maio

There is educational value in learning from a variety of perspectives. One of the most advantageous ways to expand your horizons is to travel abroad. There are countless opportunities for students to see the world, including enrolling in an intensive two-week course in South America or studying abroad in Europe for a year. Higher education institutions around the world open their doors to people across the globe who seek to diversify their educational and cultural experiences. These opportunities are not limited to undergraduate students; in fact, there are a plethora of chances for graduate and professional students to learn abroad. As the world becomes more and more interconnected, it has become increasingly crucial for students to expand their learning beyond their current institution’s walls. As a Higher Education Leadership M.Ed. student at Florida Atlantic University, I had the great privilege of attending the 7th annual – 2016 University Student Leaders Symposium in Hanoi, Vietnam. Events like the University Student Leaders Symposium take participants outside of their comfort zone and allow them to learn about the real life educational and humanitarian needs that exist around the world. The purpose of this article is to share the lessons I learned by attending the 2016 University Leaders Symposium in hopes of motivating other students (including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students) to seek opportunities to study, volunteer, and/or travel abroad.

Written by Thomas De Maio of Florida Atlantic University.


The Experience

One of the most valuable things that attending the conference taught me is how privileged we are in the United States to not only have the ability to obtain a higher education, but also the fact that our universities are staffed with academic advisors and student affairs professionals whose job it is to help students succeed. One of the Symposium’s speaker, Dr. Angelina Yeun, Vice President of Hong Kong Polytechnic University discussed the cultural factors and challenges that they face in Chinese society.  For example, Dr. Yuen (2016) noted that in many Eastern cultures people are less likely to engage in community service and/or charity events focused on helping people other than their immediate family or friends. Without the sense of societal benevolence, there tends to be increased poverty and inequality within pockets of Eastern society. As an antidote to this problem, Dr. Yuen emphasized the importance of servant leadership. She noted that the concept of servant leadership already started to positively impact the city of Hong Kong. She also mentioned that in Eastern countries, such as China, higher education institutions do not have a student affairs staff. However, she did mention that demand is increasing for her higher education Master’s degree courses to learn more about leadership styles and the benefits of student affairs within higher education.

Implementing leadership styles and strategies that are taught in our higher education classes can help positively impact the world. One issue that higher education students and professionals can address is the impact of education on individuals, families, and countries. In Asia, a large percentage of women still do not have access to any formal education. If we can help educate and advocate for the rights of all people to have access to formal education, we can prepare people across the globe to address the challenges they face.

Some of the most memorable moments of my time in Vietnam were the multiple learning journeys that allowed attendees to volunteer their services. For example, attendees donated thousands of books to a local school and we helped build small bamboo bridges across a local river so villagers could traverse them on their way to school and work (HumanitarianAffairs, 2016). One of the most life-changing experiences on my trip to Vietnam was having the opportunity to visit Duong Lam, an ancient village. At Duong Lam we met with the villagers and learned firsthand about their ancient culture, religion, and traditions. My fellow humanitarians and I rolled up our sleeves and stepped outside of our comfort zones to assist the villagers with their daily chores, such as plowing and watering the fields, as well as prepping and cooking traditional Vietnamese dishes that have been made for centuries by these villagers and their ancestors. The work was difficult at first because of the hot sun and lack of clean drinking water or air conditioning. Although as the day wore on, the experience made me appreciate even more the daily tasks that these villagers complete to keep their village running.


Higher education graduate students are vested with a great privilege: the opportunity to obtain a high quality education in which the individual is equipped with the knowledge of making a positive impact in the world. The potential is there for us to not only impact students at our institutions, but to also enact change throughout the world. I encourage you to pursue opportunities that will allow you to study abroad through formal programs and/or by attending conferences like the University Student Leaders Symposium. We can, and I would argue are morally obligated to make the world a better place. In doing so, we make ourselves even better student affairs administrators and human beings.




HumanitarianAffairs (2016, Aug 7). 7th USLS 2016 . Retrieved from

Yuen, A. (2016, September 12). Angelina Yuen at the 7th USLS 2016 . Retrieved from


Incorporating Entrepreneurship into Higher Education | Jean Enock Denis

Never has it been more important to help our students reach their full potential while we have them in front of us! Entrepreneurship is a great asset HESA professionals can utilize in our work to make valuable to our students. How are you incorporating entrepreneurship into your time with your students? How can entrepreneurship be utilized better by us professionals? Do you have a side hustle that you’d like to share with our profession? Leave your business in the comments! -Michelle

This piece is written by Jean Enock Denis of Florida Atlantic University

Students are enrolled into colleges and universities to gain knowledge that will allow them to successfully secure employment after graduation. Increasingly, employers are seeking employees who are ready to bring new ideas to the workplace. Therefore, today’s college graduates need to be nimble, flexible, and lifelong learners. Teaching students about entrepreneurship is one way to prepare students to be successful candidates for employment. The Kauffman Foundation defines entrepreneurship as, “the transformation of an innovation into a sustainable enterprise that generates value” (Kauffman Foundation, 2007, p. 4). Higher education can help students prepare to lead, disrupt, and innovate throughout their careers by teaching them the principles of entrepreneurship. The purpose of this article is to explore how student affairs professionals can help to incorporate entrepreneurship into higher education.

Entrepreneurship in Higher Education

Student affairs professionals may introduce entrepreneurship into higher education by segmenting the Kauffman Foundation’s definition of entrepreneurship into a three-step framework: innovation, sustainable enterprise/practicality, and value. (Kauffman Foundation, 2007).


Innovation requires critical and creative thinking. Students involved in leadership positions on campus can practice being innovative through the programs that they develop. Student affairs professionals can challenge students to not just repeat the same program over and over in the name of tradition. Instead, they can be challenged by student affairs professionals to think bigger and bolder by asking students questions like, “If you were charged with completely overhauling this annual event, what would you do differently?”

Sustainable Enterprise/Practicality

Students should be encouraged to analyze the sustainability and creativity of solutions to the problems they encounter. Great entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs, design products that are complex, yet are presented in a simple and elegant way. Students would learn how to formulate practical solutions. Moreover, solutions must be sustainable. For instance, after the students have come with the innovative way to do the event the student affairs professionals would ask questions such as “how do we deliver this innovative event in a simple and elegant way?” or “how do we create a system that allows us to constantly improve our offerings?”

Generating Value

Entrepreneurship is almost always the result of the search for solutions for the greater good, utilitarianism. Whether it is for a department, a school, a company or a specific industry. Students should be encouraged to analyze the value their solutions will generate.  For example, in planning an event for a campus club, students need to carefully consider what added value this event might bring to members of the club and to the campus. Would this event leave a better image and impression of the club once it is over? Would this event promote the mission and values of the club? Would this event encourage more support for the club?


Training in entrepreneurship is an invaluable tool for college graduates to have as they seek employment. Student affairs professionals are in a unique position to prepare innovators, entrepreneurs, and problem solvers by teaching them the principles of entrepreneurship. The ultimate goal is to help students develop the entrepreneurial mindset that gives them a competitive edge, not only for seeking employment but for their entire professional career.


Kauffman Foundation. (2007). Entrepreneurship in American higher education. Kansas City,

MO: Carl J. Schramm.