OCCC president uses wisdom, music to inform

Good leaders are good followers too, OCCC President Paul Sechrist told an audience of 170 college students on Oct. 10 at a statewide leadership conference.

“The most effective leaders run out of great ideas after a while and rely on others to generate them,” Sechrist said. “Good decisions require that everyone contribute.”

Sechrist was the keynote speaker for the 2013 Leadership Retreat hosted by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education at Embassy Suites in Norman.

Student leaders came from across the state to hear Sechrist’s address, attend presentations, and network with other student organizations.

Sixteen students from various campus organizations, including the Engineering Club and the International Student Association, represented OCCC.

Bobbie Wilson, nursing student and public relations director for The (Student) Leadership Council, said she was hesitant about taking the time to attend the conference but found it to be a great experience overall.

Wilson said she loved Sechrist’s speech and also enjoyed his piano performances that were woven into the message.

Sechrist performed songs on the piano to complement the points of his speech. One piece, entitled “Follow,” was played after Sechrist stressed how important it was that good leaders know when to consider the input of others.

Sechrist said consulting others is what makes a good leader because if others accept a decision, it increases its effectiveness.

“You only get high quality, effective decisions that are accepted when people are able to participate,” Sechrist said.

“[People] question being told what to do all the time … [but] people champion the things they help to create.”

Sechrist said innovation and creativity are expected of good leaders as the world continues to change and develop. He said finding a passion and pursuing it is a great way to live.

Psychology major Parthenia Smith said she was inspired by Sechrist’s address because he began his career by working at menial jobs before earning his degree.

“The insight he gave, like how he used to work at a gas station and at Furr’s (cafeteria), and now he’s the president [of OCCC], lets you know that dreams really do come true,” Smith said.

“With the information that I’ve learned, I think it will help me to lead more effectively.”

Chris Reece, diversified studies major and president of Leading Individuals for Equality (LIFE), said the information he gained at the conference will benefit him in both his personal and professional life.

“I took away from [Sechrist’s] speech that [leaders] must be followers when necessary,” Reece said.

“And that you have to have change and innovation to be successful. You have to change with the times.”

Reece said any student at OCCC can be a leader. He said to start small and become a member of an organization before holding office because officers get their best ideas from their members.

“It only takes one person to spark that collaborative muscle,” Reece said.

Reece said he’s changed as a leader because he learned strategies he can implement into his academic and personal life, such as knowing what your personal mission statement needs to be.

For more information about student organizations at OCCC, visit www.occc.edu/studentlife.

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