Big Day 2014 will host volunteers from the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester chapter for a day of workshops and leadership activities. Coordinated by Aminata Dansoko ’15, with the support of a Cohen Fellowship and the Centennial Center for Leadership (CCL), the Monday, Dec. 15 event will bring together approximately 120 high school “bigs” from across Ontario County, nine high school liaisons, four Big Brothers and Big Sisters (BBBS) staff and HWS student volunteers.
Dansoko, who herself was a “little” in the organization’s New York City chapter, says that the “Big Day 2014 will provide additional effective training for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester school-based program.”
A double major in environmental studies and critical social studies, Dansoko is in the process of earning an HWS Leads certificate and has served as home group leader during the annual Leadership Institute. Now, her leadership project, the Big Day conference, has been awarded the Cohen Fellowship through CCL.
The fellowship, funded by HWS Trustee Dr. Stephen L. Cohen ’67, began this summer, though “Aminata has worked closely with the Centennial Center since her first year at HWS,” says Susan Pliner, director of CCL. “As a campus leader, she has consistently been drawn towards issues of social justice and also really loves working with children. We’re really proud of her work to organize this conference. It should be a full day of thoughtful development for high school leaders.”
The event’s workshops feature themes of leadership through empowerment, accentuating “the positive,” proactively preparing for the future and introverted leadership.
Workshop leaders will include Dansoko and Pliner; Katie Flowers HON’11, director of the Center for Community and Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL); Associate Director of CCL Amy Forbes; Health Promotions Administrator Tempe Newson ’11; and Associate Dean of William Smith College Lisa Kaenzig HON’10. HWS Chaplain Lesley Adams HON’12 will be the keynote speaker, delivering an address titled, “Leading by Serving.”
Dansoko — who was introduced to the BBBS of Greater Rochester through CCESL when she was the civic leader for the Geneva Boys and Girls Club — says that through this event, the “students in the school-based program will gain more knowledge on how to be better mentors, role-models and leaders, as well as have the chance to learn about themselves and become aware of other opportunities that can help them in the future.”
“Big Brothers/Big Sisters is a fantastic organization that Aminata really believes in,” Pliner says. “She’s has learned a lot through the process and we expect she’ll be able to take these experiences into her career, hopefully, one day as an educator.”
Support for this event also comes from CCESL; the Offices of Admissions, Student Activities, Intercultural Affairs, and Conference and Events; and Sodexo dining services.