Aggies Leading the Way! 2018

The fifth annual Aggies Leading the Way! Undergraduate Leadership Conference was held on February 24, 2018.

This event was free for all undergraduate students and open to students in all majors. With workshops, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities, this event helped students reach their leadership potential and practice their professional skills!

ALW 2018 Theme


Conference Video



Conference Mission

This year’s conference theme was Leadership Amplified. When an individual amplifies their leadership, they draw upon unique perspectives to bring awareness to things they care about, foster collaboration with the people around them, and empower their communities to work together toward positive change. By amplifying leadership, people can create more energy, expand spheres of influence, and increase their impact in the world.

Through a variety of interactive workshops and large-group activities, the conference aimed to help students: 

  • Develop their unique perspective
  • Foster collaboration with others
  • Empower their communities


Conference Agenda

Conference Registration & Continental Breakfast
Conference Welcome
Ancestral Blessing
Workshops - Session 1
Lunch Break & Networking
Workshops - Session 2
Workshops - Session 3
Snack Break & Networking
2018 Resolutions
Voices for Change
Moving Forward & Taking Action
Closing Remarks & Evaluations
Raffle Prizes & Thank You
Conference T-Shirts

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Special Performances

"2018 Resolutions"
Val Sierra

Val SierraValentín “Val” Sierra (Yoeme, Mexicano) is an intergenerational Native artist, scholar, and activist protector. He currently works at the Sacramento Native American Health Center as a Youth Peer Support Specialist and recently completed his undergraduate studies at UC Davis in Native American Studies. Val works to unsettle and decolonize oppressive systems through education in the name of liberation and self-determination. He centers himself by practicing traditional Native American beadwork, reading/writing poetry and watching Youtube makeup tutorials.

"Voices for Change"
Rohan Singh

Rohan SinghRohan Singh is an aspiring poet from South Sacramento, California. He is in his second year at UC Davis and is majoring in English. Rohan is a founding member of the Social Justice and Equity Collective that aims to educate students and enact change through discourse and taking action. His passion for social justice manifests within his art and poetry. Through Singh’s raw delivery and unflinching exploration of life and his lived experience, he attempts to draw in audiences to deliver his message of change, and to build a sense of solidarity and collectivity among all people.

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Main Conference Workshop Areas

Developing Your Unique Perspective (Session 1)

Workshops in this session focused on helping students find and develop their unique perspective by using personal lived experiences to bring awareness to things they care about.


  • This Is My Story: Finding Leadership in Your Own Voice
  • Presenter: Maia Huang
    In this interactive workshop, participants will have the opportunity to give voice to their own personal stories through small group discussions and community sharing. By speaking about their identity and life experiences, participants will recognize how their unique perspectives and personal narratives contribute to their leadership skills.
  • Yes, YOU Are Creative: Put Your Imagination to Work
  • Presenter: Kelli Sholer
    Creativity has become a vital component of being a leader in the 21st century economy. And yet, there is the myth only artistic people are "creative". This workshop will dismantle this myth by examining how there is creative potential that exists in each of us and how we can tap into this potential to approach the problems that need solving in our world. Through group participation and breakout activities, the workshop will explore skills and abilities that will equip participants with further insight about developing their own creativity individually and collectively to impact the world in meaningful ways.
  • The Keys to Setting Your Personal Mission
  • Presenter: Erica Lin
    Throughout the roller coaster ride of college, we tend to be overwhelmed by the present. Whether its essays, exams, or extracurricular activities, students may feel stressed with their never-ending to-do list. In this session, students will learn more about the advantages of gaining self-awareness. From this introspective process, students will receive guidance in creating their own personal mission statement--a unique statement that keeps us inspired and motivated throughout life’s challenges. This personalized message summarizes our purpose and aspirations. Students will have the opportunity to decorate their own keychain, which will serve as a daily reminder of their personal mission statement.
  • Mindfulness Based Leadership
  • Presenters: Maria Victoria Bundang and Trent Capurso
    Mindfulness Based Leadership is about being aware of ourselves and the actions that we may take as leaders. It is about understanding our own identities and how they impact our leadership style. Mindfulness centers around being conscientious of ourselves and the environment we are in as well as the environment that we create in the workplace. It becomes about how to navigate as an individual in the spaces that we enter. In an interactive activity, we will explore how to preserve ourselves despite the restrictions that institutions may place on us. We will be creating art as a means to learn about our individuality in the work place. We will paint abstractions, find meaning in it, and define what it may say about us.


Fostering Collaboration (Session 2)

Workshops in this session focused on helping students understand the value of fostering and expanding collaboration with others.


  • Effective Collaboration Realization
  • Presenter: Kristin Dees
    Collaboration is a vital skill that employers are looking for in candidates. Can you articulate your collaboration style? What are the pros and cons of collaboration? How do you initiate a collaboration? What is effective collaboration? These are the questions this session will address and provide you a template for a collaboration action plan.
  • Building Your Team through Relationships, Group Process and Results
  • Presenter: Alejandro Vilchez
    This interactive workshop will focus developing cohesion within a group by examining team dynamics such as trust, gossip, perceptions, assumptions, and leadership. The session incorporates hands on activities and discussions that will build capacity and confidence when working with others. By the end of the session students will be equipped to facilitate challenging situations and harness the best of their teams for maximum performance. 
  • Establishing Professional Boundaries as a Student Leader
  • Presenters: Kristopher Disharoon and Juan Blanco
    Come learn how to create professional boundaries between you and others as a student leader. We will examine the differences between expectations and boundaries. We will look at boundary issues that may arise with others through case studies and professional/personal area exploration. In the end, we will explore understandings of how to take initiative in setting your boundary limits and how to communicate these limits to others.
  • Rise of the Warrior
  • Presenter: Odisea Macias
    What makes a warrior? Is it their supernatural fighting abilities, awesome outfits, or incredible basketball skills? This workshop is designed to equip participants with simple tools that will enable them to rise into action when working with others. By fostering and cultivating crucial relationships, we can empower and encourage others to work toward a common goal.  We will discuss our unique roles in our communities, collaboration with others, and sharing a common vision. Join us, and learn how to suit up for action!
  • Democratizing Leadership: Success through Supporting Others
  • Presenter: Nicole Garcia
    As the leader, you're often looked to for critical decisions, direction, and overall vision. How do you know where to start in untangling the process ahead? In this interactive workshop and presentation, we will navigate the pathway to balanced leadership by discussing strategies for team building, collaborating, leading by example, embracing honesty, and much more. Whether you're new to leadership or more experienced, the variety of topics covered will enable anyone to improve their skills.


Empowering Your Community (Session 3)

Workshops in this session focused on helping students engage at the community level. This can occur by creating united messages, developing other leaders, and expanding their involvement.


  • Building Coalitions: Issues to Action
  • Presenter: Lina Mendez
    Students will learn how to prioritize, build partnerships, and execute tier ideas with concrete follow-up steps. Participants will work as a team to identify an issue in their community/school that needs to change and together they will decide what steps/resources are needed to create this change.  This workshop will allow participants to collaborate and partner with a diverse group students to solve a common issue while learning the importance of strategizing to solve problems.
  • #Activism & You: Creating Change in 140 Characters
  • Presenter: Val Sierra
    Do you own a smartphone? Do you love connecting with others on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc? Have you ever used a #hashtag? In this workshop, we will examine the ways in which social media has been used to mobilize entire political movements with the use of hashtags and other viral means. Participants will uncover the power of #Activism as a valuable tool for social change. Come join us as we empower ourselves and our communities in advocating for change around the issues that matter to us!
  • Utilizing Community Engagement to Effect Change
  • Presenter: Alejandro Vilchez
    We all know that change does not happen in a vacuum. Leaders need to collaborate with other leaders and community members to advance causes and make an impact.  This workshop will highlight strategies on how to get involved with community groups to help tackle challenges and influence decisions.
  • Bridging the Community Divide Through Dialogue 
  • Presenters: Dhvani Thakkar and Tessa Oates
    This workshop will highlight how leaders can improve community capacity to engage differences as strengths while learning how to move from talking about issues to action.  The concept of Dialogue will be introduced and how it difference from a discussion or a debate.  Since Dialogue focuses on learning from and about real experiences of others, we will provide tools to help build empathy and relationships across lines of difference. Tools of Dialogue such as mindful listening, sharing personal experiences instead of facts, determining intent vs impact, will be explained.
  • Empowerment through Political Awareness and Activism
  • Presenter: Romae Aquino
    This workshop, hosted by a representative of La Raza Pre-Law Student Association, will focus on introducing ways to be politically active and aware amongst the current political climate and various societal disparities. This interactive workshop will help participants understand methods of advocacy and tactics to pursue necessary changes to disproportionate systems. In the midst of numerous tensions within our communities, this workshop intends to promote ways to navigate such tensions in order to positively empower our communities.

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Presenter Biographies


  • Romae Aquino     Undergraduate Student - International Relations, Political Science, and Spanish, University of California, Davis
  • Romae is a third year International Relations, Political Science, and Spanish triple major who is interested in becoming a foreign service officer with the United States State Department. A fun fact about Romae is that when she studied abroad in Fall 2016, she traveled to 15 different countries through 28 flights, 14 trains, 13 buses, and 12 airports. All in 7 months!
  • Juan Blanco, B.A.     Student Life Supervisor - Center for Leadership and Development, American River College
  • Juan received his BA from Chico State in Child Development and Psychology and his MA from the University of Denver in Higher Education and Student Affairs. His primary fields of interest are Social Justice and Equity Work in a higher education setting. A personal fun fact about Juan is that he drinks milk with ice. If you want to know why, feel free to find him and ask!
  • Maria Victoria Bundang     Undergraduate Student - Psychology Major and Education Minor, University of California, Davis
  • Maria Victoria Bundang is a 4th year Psychology Major with a minor in Education. Her goal is to eventually go to grad school and get a PhD in Counseling Psychology. She currently on board of several organizations on campus. Maria Victoria is the Secretary for the Davis Personal Development club; Membership Chair of Psi Chi, the Psychology Honors Society; Publicity Director and one of the facilitators for The Happiness Project; and the Deputy Director's Assistant for the UC Davis Mental Health Initiative. She is also one of the Smoke and Tobacco Free Ambassadors on campus. Despite her busy schedule, she still manages to have time for herself, her friends, and binge watching shows.
  • Trent Capurso     Undergraduate Student - History Major and Education Minor, University of California, Davis
  • Trent is a 4th year history major with a minor in education. He is also a peer leader for the Center for Leadership Learning, Vice-President of the Davis Personal Growth Club, and Treasurer for the Star Trek Club. After they graduate in the spring, Trent wants to earn a M.A. degree in history and potentially a PhD so that he can become a history professor at the community college level and continue to stay active and advocate in local communities. A quote from Tommy Wiseau that motivates Trent to persevere is, “You have to be the best you can be. And never give up.”
  • Kristin Dees, Ph.D.     Director - Center for Student Involvement, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Kristin Dees is the Director of the Center for Student Involvement at UC Davis. Center for Student Involvement provides leadership consultation and training for registered student organizations and campus-wide programs. Kristin received her Bachelor’s Degree from Texas Christian University, her Master’s Degree in Education specializing in College Student Services Administration from Oregon State University, and her Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from California Lutheran University. Kristin's fun fact is that she loves to mentor students and has over 45 college student mentees during her 12-year career.
  • Kristopher Disharoon, M.S.     University Union Engagement Coordinator - University Union, California State University - East Bay
  • Kristopher received his BA from Western Carolina University in English with a concentration in Film Studies and his MS from Radford University in Counseling and Human Development with a concentration in Student Affairs Administration. His primary fields of interest are student activities and student unions, including engagement and educational opportunities that are offered through student involvement with them. A personal fun fact about Kristopher is that he loves comic books and his favorite character is Spider-Man.
  • Nicole Garcia     Undergraduate Student - Communication Major, University of California, Davis
  • Nicole Garcia is a fourth year Communication major. Throughout her time at UC Davis, she has served as the Director of Aggie Reuse Store, the campus' student-run center for sustainability, for the past 3 years. She has also co-founded the organizations Davis Women in Business, where she currently serves as President, and PERIOD, where she serves as the Program Director. Her interests include leadership, women empowerment, environmental advocacy, and social equity. After graduation, she hopes to launch her own business focused around these values. In her free time she enjoys reading, painting, and spending time with cats.
  • Maia Huang, M.A., LMFT     CAN Community Counselor - Women’s Resource and Research Center and LGBTQIA Resource Center, University of California, Davis
  • Maia Huang has a MA in Counseling Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a specialization in expressive arts therapy. She has worked with young adults and college students from a variety of different backgrounds, including clients from the LGBTQIA community, ethnically diverse clients, and clients with disabilities, among others. She uses the arts and psychotherapy to assist clients to address issues such as LGBTQIA identity concerns, chronic illness, women's health and wellness, multiculturalism, life transitions, trauma, self-esteem, polyamory, and relationship issues in straight and same-sex couples. Fun fact: Maia tried skydiving many moons ago and managed to land on her feet still smiling.
  • Erica Lin, B.S.     UCD Alumna – Class of 2017 - Psychology/Sociology Double Major and Education Minor, University of California, Davis
  • Erica graduated from UC Davis in June 2017.  She double majored in Psychology and Sociology, with a minor in Education. Throughout college, Erica worked with Student Housing for three years, where she was able to guide first year students in their college journey.  Her experiences at Davis have inspired her to pursue a career in counseling and public services. Fun Fact: Erica like all forms of potatoes, especially waffle fries.
  • Odisea Macias, B.S.     UCD Alumna - Class of 2017 - Communication and Managerial Economics, University of California, Davis
  • Odisea Macias is an UC Davis alumna. She graduated with a degree in Communication and Managerial Economics. She wants to pursue a MBA at the UC Davis School of Management. Odisea is passionate about public speaking and empowering the youth. She currently serves as a youth group counselor and does outreach for different organizations.
  • Lina Méndez, Ph.D.     Associate Director - Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Méndez is the Associate Director of the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Student Academic Success at the University of California, Davis. In 1999, she received the Gates Millennium Scholarship which helped her believe that her educational goals could become a reality.  She applied to one of the best universities in the world and eventually attended Harvard University for her master’s degree. She is very passionate about teaching and mentoring others.  Throughout her educational career she has tried to open doors for the next generation of students who would become the professionals their communities desperately need. Her work has always revolved around social justice issues and building bridges through meaningful partnerships.   
  • Tessa Oates     Undergraduate Student - Religion Studies Major and Human Rights Minor, University of California, Davis
  • Tessa is a senior studying Religion and Human Rights and hopes to pursue a Master’s degree in Human Rights Education. As a trained moderator and an officer for the Sustained Dialogue student organization here at UC Davis, she is particularly interested in exploring how Dialogue and other thoughtfully constructed communication spaces can allow humans to better listen to, think about, and understand other people’s perspectives and life experiences. Tessa is especially fascinated by the way storytelling about personal experiences can create a shared feeling of trust and compassion among a group. Some other topics that interest her include nonviolent communication and thought, self-appreciation and mental wellness, and conflict resolution techniques.
  • Kelli Sholer, M.S.     Undergraduate Advisor - Department of Anthropology and Sociology, University of California, Davis
  • Kelli is currently an undergraduate advisor at UC Davis in the Anthropology and Sociology departments and has 10 years of academic advising experience at UC Davis. She received her Master’s degree in Counseling with a specialization in career counseling and generally uses approaches such as happenstance learning theory or integrative life planning in her work with students. She has specific enthusiasm for helping students navigate through their career exploration process. Kelli embraces self-care through going to musicals, trying new restaurants with her husband, and discovering new shows on Netflix.
  • Dhvani Thakkar     Undergraduate Student - Design and Psychology Double Major, University of California, Davis
  • Dhvani, which is pronounced “The One E”, is a double major in Design and Psychology.  She fathoms complexities – the mysteries that surround us – evolving humanity, our desire to share our stories, and our potential to be collectively compassionate.  Currently, Dhvani is a Student Assistant at the Campus Dialogue Department, University of California Davis.  She thrives on bridging divides by unraveling personal experiences. Creativity and empathy are core to her personality. Travel and Dialogue have taught her to embrace the ambiguities in differences. Let’s just say, Dialogue transformed her perception on bridging divides and revealed to her the road less traveled.
  • Alejandro Vilchez     Founder and Owner - AV Consulting
  • Alejandro is a seasoned and recognized leader in the field of violence/gang prevention. He is a highly sought facilitator, trainer and public speaker with the ability to capture audiences in a fun yet focused manner in both English and Spanish. His areas of concentration are conflict resolution, youth development and non-profit organizational management. In 2004 he developed the Strengthening Neighborhoods Program that is now a model for law enforcement and neighborhoods working together to reduce street violence. He has served in multiple roles as a direct service provider, community liaison, grant writer, senior director and school administrator. Today he serves as an independent to consultant to schools, local governments and non-profit organizations seeking support in the areas of safe school climate, team building, positive youth coaching and community engagement. He is a facilitator for Center for Leadership Learning at UC Davis, a certified trainer of Restorative Practices and author of “Off 2 Play”, a workshop dedicated to icebreakers and activities. Alejandro is native to the San Francisco Bay Area and earned two Bachelor Degrees from Bethany University (Cross-Cultural Communications) and Notre Dame de Namur University (Human Services).  He loves baseball, classic Chevy’s and reading all things C.S. Lewis.

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The 2018 conference is funded and made possible by the UC Davis Center for Leadership Learning and Undergraduate Education.

Thank you to the following campus partners for their generous raffle prize donations:

  • Campus Recreation and Unions
  • Campus Stores
  • Center for Student Involvement
  • College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences
  • College of Biological Sciences
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Letters & Sciences
  • International Academic English - Summer Start Program
  • First Year Aggie Connections
  • School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Student Academic Success Center
  • Summer Sessions
  • Transfer Reentry Center
  • UCD Athletics Department
  • Undergraduate Research Center
  • Women's Resources and Research Center

Thank you to the conference planning committee for their dedication and hard work:

  • Jaime Allen - Center for Student Involvement
  • Sara Blair-Medeiros - Women's Resources & Research Center
  • Cirilo Cortez - Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success
  • Letia Graening - College of Letters and Science Dean’s Office
  • Corrine Hawes - College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
  • Hope M. Medina - Transfer and Veteran Services
  • Liliana Robles - Student Recruitment & Retention Center
  • Eddy Ruiz - University Honors Program & First-Year Seminars
  • Helen Schurke Frasier - Undergraduate Education
  • Joanna Villegas - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual + Resource Center
  • Tanya Whitlow - Leadership in Engineering Advancement, Diversity and Retention (LEADR) Program

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