U-Lead inspires student leaders

“My purpose is all about helping people understand their purpose, lead with intention, and go after big and courageous goals,” said Cindra Kamphoff.

Kamphoff was the keynote speaker at the 10th annual U-Lead Conference held in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom this week. Kamphoff is a professor in Sport and Performance Psychology at Minnesota State. Her book, “Beyond Grit: Ten Powerful Practices to Gain the High Performing Edge,” is an Amazon Bestseller. 

She has also provided mental training for the Minnesota Vikings for the last four years, working one-on-one with the players.

“Sometimes you can get starstruck working with the players we watch on TV, but they are humans just like us. When you know that, it becomes easier to be down-to-earth and put their mental health in the spotlight,” said Kamphoff.

Kamphoff’s keynote speech Wednesday concluded one of the largest leadership development opportunities for MSU students. Several different groups and departments worked together to bring on this year’s event, including Kearney International Center, Interfraternity Council and many more.

“Something that stuck out to us about Cindra was that with the growing focus on mental health in our society, she is finding ways to channel it in a way that our students can apply it to their own lives,” said MSU sophomore, Jaegar Cossette.

Cossette is a member of Phi Kappa Psi and MSU senior, Natalie Horn, is a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha. They took lead roles in coordinating this years’ events as vice presidents of member education and development on the interfraternity council. 

“Working with people outside of the Greek community that wanted to step up to be student leaders was a great experience for us,” said Cossette.

Over three nights, different speakers and organizations came together to have discussions with MSU students about several topics. 

“We wanted students to walk away from this event with more confidence in themselves, believing that they can be a leader and be comfortable in doing so,” said Horn.

The sub conferences brought nine different sessions focusing on leadership skills and new ways to be a better student. 

“Our goal was not only to spread our message to student leaders, but everyone who wants to learn new ways to better themselves,” said Cossette.

Monday, an exploration of Supreme Court precedents which shape lives and a discussion on how to combat a non-trusting mindset while working in groups kicked off the event at 6 p.m. Following the first two sessions, MSU Student Organization Leaders shared their experiences in their own journeys, and a rundown on understanding employment benefits.

Tuesday included a panel of community service leaders discussing how professionalism and integrity are necessary to produce tangible results. Other sessions consisted of an exploration of the difference between team-consensus and tyrannical leadership styles while the other offered advice on how to plan a healthy meal at a low cost. The 7 p.m. hearings were “How to Create an Inclusive Culture” and “How to Study Less and Learn More.”

With a lot of hard work and commitment from many student groups and academic departments, this year’s U-Lead conference provided students an opportunity to better themselves, meet new people and get in touch with student groups around campus. 

“I think this was a really great experience for everyone. We got to explore different organizations and now we have something that helped to bring us together,” said Horn.

Header photo: Cindra Kamphoff, main speaker of the conference, talked Wednesday, Nov. 16 about understanding personal potential through a balanced mindset and ways to improve mental performance. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

Write to Hayden Lee at

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