UP Leadership & Professional Development Conference

Save the date for the 2023 Conference!

New World, New Horizons

Get ready for the 2023 UP Leadership and Professional Development Conference on February 8-10, 2023. This conference will feature 2 keynote speakers, student-led sessions, professional development and leadership skills breakout sessions, an alumni networking luncheon, networking with employers, raffle prizes, and more!

Registration will cost only $10. More details will be coming soon!

2023 Featured Keynotes

Dr. Camille Nelson, Musician

Dr. Camille NelsonTake away Camille’s guitars, passport, marathon medals, and degrees, and you still have her undying passion and creativity. Camille Nelson credits much of her creativity to her experience as a touring musician and her opportunities traveling and learning languages abroad. She’s traveled to more than 70 countries singing, performing and running marathons on all seven continents.

Camille grew up in a family of musicians and plays several instruments. She most recently signed to the Utah label Stone Angel Music and releases her next album late summer 2017. Camille has been recognized for her success in triathlons, bodybuilding competitions, and more than 15 marathons spanning all seven continents, including the Boston Marathon, the Great Wall Marathon, and the Antarctica Marathon! Competitive athleticism has shaped Camille’s relentless enthusiasm for team building, leadership, and perseverance.

Camille holds an MPA from the University of Utah and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University. She has taught college courses in management, communication, and leadership for over ten years. Camille recognizes that creativity and change are a way of life and utilizes the power of music and words to relay her inspirational message.


2023 Session Descriptions

  • Check back soon for complete conference program information!



Past Conferences


    • Title
    • KEYNOTE: Lessons Learned
      Jeffrey Thorpe,
      Judicial Caseload Data Manager, Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts
      Taking on leadership roles is an opportunity for you to learn valuable lessons. These lessons learned will help shape your professional future and help you reach your goals. In this incredibly motivational session, Jeffrey Thorpe will provide an anecdotal approach to leadership. From holding the position of Secretary-General for the National Model United Nations, to holding the position of President and Team Manager of the Atlanta Bucks Rugby Football Club, Inc., all while serving as the Judicial Caseload Data Manager for the Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts, Jeffrey Thorpe knows how to take on leadership roles. Often described as a busy body, Jeffrey offers a collection of lessons learned from decades of leadership positions. He will discuss how these lessons have benefited him and their value on his experiences. You will leave with an understanding of how leadership can create positive outcomes in your professional career.
    • Talk With Me, Not At Me
      Austin Heller,
      Junior, KSU
      This session will go over ways to be an effective leader and why it is important to gain an understanding of all perspectives of ideas or thoughts you may come across as a leader. The presenter will discuss how to create a habit of active listening and how to reflect on thoughts, ideas, and opinions of others. 
    • Written in the Stars: Charting Your Relationship with Leadership  
      Nicholas Trotter, 
      Program Coordinator, New Student Programs, KSU

      Alexandra Mastorakis, Enrollment Advisor, Noodle
      Self-awareness is a major part of developing one's identity as a leader and teammate. Using the guiding analogy of natal charts and the zodiac, the participants will dive into the relationship between self-assessment and self-awareness. In addition, this session will explore how they relate to the development of one's personal leadership philosophy. You will be able to connect your own self-assessment to your leadership and professional development.  
    • Liberal Arts Mythbusting: Yes, You Are Employable
      Matthew Waller, Undergraduate Advisor & Lecturer of Geography, KSU

      Christine Jacobs, Academic Advisor, RCHSS, KSU
      Parents and students may think that majors in the Humanities and Social Sciences aren't able to get (good) jobs. We want to counter that narrative with practical tips to help students be ready for the job market. This session will take a deeper look at how to use your soft skills and other qualifications based on courses you have taken to your advantage during your career search.  
    • Code-Switching Like a Professional: Knowing Yourself and Your Audience
      Dr. Sabine Smith, 
      German Studies Program Coordinator, Professor of German, KSU 
      In this interactive session, participants are introduced to different leadership and communication styles based on Chapman (2019) “5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” and Christfort & Vickberg (2018) “Business Chemistry.” Participants 1) complete a brief self-assessment on workplace preferences; 2) discuss the merits of developing competency in multiple work styles; and 3) apply knowledge of seemingly incompatible approaches to problem-solving and task completion in connection with real-world challenges.
    • Mindfulness at Work
      Karlia Brown, 
      Alumna, KSU
      When was the last time you felt stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed in the workplace or leadership roles? Mindfulness can help you deal with daily stressors, and it can be beneficial in the workplace. It can make you more productive and increase your satisfaction at work, but most importantly, it helps you be present in the moment and enjoy life for "what it is." In this session, the presenter will discuss how to be more mindful at work! Let's talk about the benefits of being aware of our thoughts and emotions and bringing a sense of peace into the workplace.
    • Defining and Promoting Your Leadership Image
      Diane Winslow, 
      Senior Recruiting Specialist, Meditech
      Did you know that you can be a leader without the "leadership" title? This session aims to: debunk the leadership myths of position, destination, and influence. We will discuss how to identify strategies and techniques to effectively lead yourself. You will analyze the importance and benefits of leading up. Participants will be able to recognize that peer relationships are critical to career satisfaction. You will learn how to apply the strategies discussed to design a personal leadership action plan. 
    • The 5 Pillars of Professionalism
      Jessica McLeod, 
      Program Coordinator, Student Affairs, KSU
      Presenting yourself professionally is a key component of being a leader and is a skill that you can take into your next career step and beyond. This session will dive into the 5 Pillars of Professionalism. 1. Being able to communicate in an effective, detailed, and respectful manner. 2. Having a collected presentation. 3. Being present and fully invested in whatever you are doing. 4. Being aware of how your actions affect others. 5. Having a heart of fire and a mind of ice. Participants will learn what each pillar means to be able to identify their areas of strength, areas of growth and how to apply them in their leadership roles.  
    • Growth Mindset and its Influence on Career Competence
      Dr. Daniel Niederjohn, Faculty Athletic Representative & Associate Professor of Psychology, KSU
      Research has shown that a growth, compared to a fixed, mindset is critical in helping people strive towards their goals. The pathway to one’s career is fraught with challenges and some level of failure. If we can help our students and alumni recognize these failures as stepping stones and reframe challenges as opportunities to grow, we can help build successful leaders. This session will focus on using growth mindset techniques and how to see the value in applying them in academic and occupational settings.
    • That’s Right Where You Need to Be
      Macey Roache, 
      Graduate Student, KSU
      Unsure where you'll go after Graduation? That's okay, none of us usually do!  Being open to change in uncertainty is an imperative part of developing into a new position or positions after college.  Allow me to share a few experiences that helped mold me into a coachable student, employee, and person.
    • Title
    • KEYNOTE: Getting Back Up
      Blake Eason,
      Journalist, Producer, and On-Air Personality with a passion to tell stories and start conversations. He currently sits behind the desk and out in the field for WRBL in Columbus, Georgia, serving as a weekday morning news anchor and producer
      Imagine this: you are a KSU student with your whole life ahead of you – then a worldwide pandemic hits. What do you do when life hits you hard and turns your world upside down? One of Blake Eason’s many passions is creative storytelling. He will cover his journey from his time at Kennesaw State University, graduation, the pandemic, and a career change – and the lessons he learned along the way. He will share the value internships, networking, and leadership has had on his life and will incorporate humor throughout.
    • Lead From Where You Are
      Carrie Roeger, 
      Part-Time Instructor of Constuction Management, KSU 
      Did you know even if you don’t hold a leadership position you are still capable of being a leader in your current role? Leadership happens in all positions. In this session, you will learn how to be a leader in your current occupational or professional role. Participants will see that they do not need a specific title or responsibilities to lead. They will learn how to connect a diverse group of people in a variety of positions within an organization. They will walk away knowing that their leadership journey can start immediately. 
    • The Keys to Critical and Dynamic Thinking
      Keith Scott,
      Deputy General Counsel & Chief Litigation Officer, Motrex, LLC
      Children don’t think critically and dynamically; adults can and should, but many of them don’t. When you make your way into the world will you distinguish yourself by thinking critically and dynamically, or will you disappear into the crowd? This session will highlight examples of critical and dynamic thinking, defining what it means and illustrating its importance.
    • Re-Engaging Your Community
      Melanie Bandoo,
      Senior, KSU
      As we recharge, restart, & reboot our world from the pandemic, students need to know how to get re-engaged with their communities while remaining safe. Re-engaging with their communities through service, social awareness, and much more can provide tremendous opportunities. Participants will create a game plan for taking action to help others.
    • Feel Good, Look Good, Work Good
      Rhodis Eason,
      CRO and Lead Designer, Sidohr, LLC
      In this session, we will cover the importance of intrapersonal development, and how it directly correlates to how we show up and dwell within the workspace. Attendees will learn about the key components of developing resiliency, how persistence is the key that will unlock doors, and the importance of developing SMART Goals that are reasonably attainable within their line of work.
    • Interpersonal Communication: Who Are You and Why Are You Here? Introductions and Elevator Pitches 
      Dr. Lara Smith-Sitton, Coordinator of Undergraduate Programs & Associate Professor of English
      The National Association of Colleges and Employers and the Council for Advancement of Standards in Higher Education concur that students need to develop strong interpersonal communication skills for career success. This session, recognizing that networking leads to as much as 85% of jobs and career advancement opportunities, will focus on how to advance current skills and develop new, meaningful communication practices. Participants will learn how to prepare to meet other professionals in a range of settings and craft elevator pitches for many purposes that will enable them to be better prepared to share their strengths, build strong connections, and articulate their unique abilities. 
    • Self-Care Your Way to Success
      Nora Rayfield,
      Junior, KSU
      Self-Care Your Way to Success
      Nora Rayfield,
      Junior, KSU
      During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic many students were forced to stay home while our country was in a state of emergency. During this time, many students were afforded the opportunity to be more mindful of their healthy habits. Now that students have begun to transition into their "new normal" lives, they can sometimes feel like there is too much on their plate. This session's purpose is to help students figure out how to balance their lives so that they can Self Care Their Way To Success.


    • Title
    • #BOSSMOVES - The Master Blueprint for Career Leadership Success!

      Dr. Joshua Fredenburg,
      Nationally acclaimed speaker, author of seven books, leadership/diversity consultant, member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Tedx Speaker, and President/Founder of the Award Winning Circle of Change Leadership Experience

      Based on his experiences and the lessons he has learned over these past ten years as a career leadership development coach for student leaders all across the country, Dr. Fredenburg has created a transformational career leadership program that not only helps students position themselves for career leadership success after graduating, but more importantly, he talks about the keys to landing a job in the 21st Century, maximizing your professional experiences within an internship or first job, and attaining career leadership success after graduation within your area of expertise.
    • Back to Basics: The Importance of Values in Finding the Best Professional Fit

      Karen Boettler,
      Assistant Director

      In challenging times we often find ourselves reevaluating where we are headed personally and professionally. During those times it is important to know what is at the core of what sustains and motivates us but also what it is at the core of the organization we work for. By clarifying your individual values and identifying the spoken and sometimes unspoken values of the organizations you are a part of, you can better determine if you are where you should be.
    • Communication Confusion

      Dr. Diane Fennig
      Career Coach & Part-Time Instructor of Management

      Kirstie Colin,
      Career Coach & Internship Advisor, Part-Time Instructor of Organizational Leadership

       In this new world order, many are questioning the best protocols for seeking employment and related follow-up. Join Kirstie Colin and Diane Fennig for an interactive session as they discuss best practices related to LinkedIn, texting, video calls/interviews, voice mails, old fashioned phone calls and thank you notes. Be "masked", armed and ready for the next rules of engagement with employers.
    • Capitalizing Internship Experiences to Enhance Future Career Opportunities

      Lola Owokoniran,
      Program Manager of CIFAL Atlanta

      Xiaoxiao Ji,
      Program Manager of CIFAL Atlanta

       Internships give students the unique opportunity to utilize their skills from the classroom and gain practical experience necessary to embark on their intended careers. During this presentation, CIFAL Atlanta program managers will discuss the importance of practical career experience and how it can benefit students in obtaining their ideal positions after graduation. The presenters will highlight how to virtually excel while working for an organization, which has become more common due to the pandemic, and give tips for standing out and working effectively. They will also detail how teamwork and effective communication can enhance your internship experience and foster key transferable skills instrumental for any future career path.
    • Title
    • What Happens Next? Maintaining Self-care Practices With Intention
      Dr. Raé Lundy,
      Healthy Hearts Counseling Coaching
      This session will take a deeper look into wellness and self-care practices (introduced in the keynote), and assist participants in developing their own self-care plan(s). Participants will identify accountability partners to assist them on their journey and cultivate a greater understanding of how to maintain personal emotional wellbeing.
    • The Future of Remote Work: Best Practices for Impactful Interviews, Meetings, and Presentations in Virtual Spaces
      Dr. Lara Smith-Sitton,
      Assistant Professor of English and Director of Community Engagement
      Global Workplace Analytics provides that by the end of 2020, 25-30% of the US Workforce will work from home. With estimates that employers can save as much as $30 billion a day by moving to remote work models, virtual conferencing platforms will remain essential communication tools. This session will explore how to be impactful and maximize your time in virtual spaces whether participating in an interview, meeting, or presentation. You will be prepared to stand out and make an impression . . . and show that you are flexible and resilient regardless of the work environment where you find yourself!
    • When Shift Happens!
      Raushanah Butler,
      Associate Director of Alumni & Constituent Engagement
      Change is inevitable, and sometimes it forces us to make a shift we aren't ready for or don't want to make. Whether you are in college attempting to figure out a career path, an alum that's changing careers, or at a point where you feel stuck, shifting your perspective changes obstacles into opportunities and stumbling blocks into steppingstones.
    • Being Culture-ish While Professional-ish: The Virtual Workplace Sitcom

      Aleksandra Ninova-Parris,
      Assistant Director of Cultural and Community Centers

      Brandon Jackson,
      Associate Director of Cultural and Community Centers

      In this session, the presenters will examine the ways in which identity and culture play out in the virtual workplace. The session will explore various ways to honor one's culture and identity while maintaining professionalism in a virtual environment.
    • The Mamba Mentality: Building your Professional Brand
      Shantra Laye,
      Campus Programs Consultant
      As defined by its creator, Kobe Bryant, the Mamba Mentality “is the belief that hard work outweighs talent — every time". It's a mindset. A constant quest to be better today than you were yesterday. Your personal brand is a vivid indication of the best you have to offer – the performance, contributions, and value others can – and should - expect from you. The brand you communicate marks your reputation and is in some respects, your personal pledge. ‘The Mamba Mentality: Building your Professional Brand’ is aimed at helping you to assess and hone your professional brand, regardless of where you are in your career journey. Whether you are currently in the process of looking for a job, jumping into a new profession or starting a new business, your professional brand is forever critical to your immediate and long-term success as it reveals 1. Who you are 2. What your brand stands for and 3. What your brand will deliver. Most importantly, you should understand how your brand evolves and grows as you evolve and grow, becoming better each day. You will walk away from this session feeling equipped and inspired on how to best present your brand and subsequently, boost your professional reputation and advance your career.
    • Leveraging Multipotentialite Magic

      Anne Winn,
      Director of Student Success

      Jasmine Jackson,
      Student Success Manager

      Does everyone have one true calling? Are you a specialist or could you be a multipotentialite? Some find themselves at a disheartening crossroads when their many interests don't seem to lead to a singular career path. Discover how having diverse interests can add value to teams and create new ideas. This session will shed light on unique opportunities afforded to those with varying interests called ""multipotentialites"" in Emilie Wapnick's 2015 TED talk. Whether you are a multipotentialite or a specialist, learn how collaborations can help everyone achieve more. Participants are encouraged to fully connect with the presenters as we co-create a growth-centered experience.
    • Finding Your Silver Lining: How to Shine in 2021
      Diane Winslow,
      Senior Recruiting Specialist
      After attending this session, students will be able to leverage their current skills and experience and confidently display their career readiness. We will discuss creating a Personal Board of Directors, as well as getting ready for first contact with employers. Regardless of the hiring landscape, students will be able to recognize the silver lining in their own journey.
    • Using a Growth Mindset to Increase Career Resiliency
      Dr. Daniel Niederjohn,
      Faculty Athletic Representative and Associate Professor of Psychology
      Research has shown that a growth, compared to a fixed, mindset is critical in helping people strive towards their goals and develop resiliency. The pathway to one's career is fraught with challenges and some level of failure. If we can help our students and alumni recognize these failures as stepping-stones and reframing challenges as opportunities to grown, we can help build successful and resilient workers. This workshop focused on practical ways of using a growth mindset to increase success and improve mental health in the process.


  • Breakout Sessions:

    • Professional Networking
    • Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
    • Using LinkedIn to Increase Your Impact
    • Positive Engagement in Organizational Politics
    • Aligning Values with Career Choices
    • Focusing on the Interview
    • Being Employable
    • Leveraging Your Digital Life
    • Connecting Passion to Skills
  • 2020 Agenda


  • Breakout Sessions:

    • LinkedIn & the Job Search
    • Professional Electronic Communication
    • Video Resumes & Biographies
    • Critical & Creative Thinking
    • Employability of Humanities & Social Science Majors
    • Education Abroad & Transferable Skills
    • Personal Brand Management
    • Navigating Culture in the Workplace
    • Gaining Experience Outside of the Classroom 


    • Self-Care & Wellness
    • Volunteering
    • Building Your Brand
    • Avoidance/Fear in the Job/Grad School Search
  • Special Thanks to the Army National Guard & Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta for Sponsoring our 2019 Conference

    national guard logo



    federal reserve bank

  • Download the agenda from our 2nd Annual Event here. 


  • Download the agenda from our 1st Annual Event here. (New information will be available here soon, please check back often)

  • Conference sponsors: Atlanta Braves

    If your organization is interested in being a sponsor of this event, please visit our employer homepage and find the section for "Additional Sponsorship Opportunities."


What Past Attendees Had to Say:

  • It was a great opportunity for students just starting college. I enjoyed going back over the things that I need to be doing, and reminding myself to stay on top of everything.”

  • It was very informative and there was a lot to take away that I feel like I could apply to my career.”

  • I enjoy the conferences. They are well put together...Thank you for all of your efforts in always putting together a meaningful experience for the students and Alumni. ”

  • I learned some valuable information about my career choices and how to market my skills in the job market”

  • The conference gave me great tips to develop myself professionally and market myself to employers”

  • "[The Conference] was extremely helpful in making the most (professionally) of your college experience”

  • My favorite part of the conference was networking with the employers. I have a better idea of a career that I want to pursue, and I got to know the employers better.”

  • Not only did the conference provide valuable learning opportunities and networking opportunities, it was extremely motivational.”

  • Very helpful information that helps students become more career ready for a reasonable price. Any student with an interest in developing professional skills should jump at the chance to attend.”