SD CEO Creates Wave of Expertise For Student Leadership Event


Jeff Smith, Senior Editor

The “Student Leadership: Focusing on the Future 2015” event will be held on the Black Hills State University campus on March 28 in the Student Union Jacket Legacy room. The event is being organized by the South Dakota Center for Enterprise Opportunity office and is sponsored by Coeur Wharf mine.

The event is focusing one day for BHSU women to develop their leadership style and confidence. Registration for the event is $10 and is open to all female juniors and seniors at BHSU.

As the only Women’s Business Center in South Dakota, the organization provides a unique opportunity for women leaders who are students. This leadership conference is a spin-off from the Women in Leadership: Focusing on the Future series presented by SD CEO. This special student leadership series was established from the overall curriculum. There are nine presenters and they range from highly accomplished business professionals to BHSU professors and administrators.

BHSU assistant professor of business, Dr. Looney is set to lead a session called “Seize Now, Propel Later: Making Goals Produce”. The focus of her presentation comes out of her work with students in business communications, “I teach a junior level managerial communications class, which is business writing, and so from that class I am aware of the workplace issues and where students would want to be angling themselves- so I’ve taken a few ideas from that class and expanded them,” said Looney.

SDCEO has an exceptional history in providing high quality programs. Although most of the programs so far have been targeted to women who are already in the workforce,SDCEO offers many programs throughout the year meant to attract both men and women from all walks of life.

“Celebrating Women’s History Month: Weaving the story of Women’s Lives” will be held in Rapid City on March 13. In May there will be a 2-day kickoff for the “Women in Leadership: Focusing on the Future” 2015 series. This series runs all summer and the participants graduate at the Women’s Business Conference on October 23 at the Lodge at Deadwood.

There are also various workshops held throughout the year that vary from financial management, human resources, marketing, and general guidelines of successful business practices, along with tools and tips to help people in their professional training.

Helen Merriman, SD CEO director, sees the Student Leadership event in March supplementing the other events that SD CEO does, “This is really a compliment to what we do, it’s another service, another program-but it’s very intentional in terms of building confidence and giving women some additional tools and techniques to help them in the business world,” said Merriman.

The Women’s Leadership series and Student in Leadership event wouldn’t have been possible without sponsorship from the Coeur-Wharf mining company. Mine Controller said that this event is fitting to be sponsored by Coeur Wharf as they have their own internal program directed toward women finding their voice and place in the corporate industry.

SD CEO Director Merriman worked with BHSU mass communication professor Dr. Mary Caton-Rosser and a planning team to select presenters and establish the curriculum for the Women in Leadership series.

SD CEO wants to stress that the points are just not for business students, the points of all the presentations are applicable to students of all backgrounds and desired careers.

There is also going to be a focus on networking – as there usually is at any SD CEO event. Erica Whitiker, BHSU student engagement and programming coordinator,is going to be leading a networking ice breaker where she will be going over the importance of first encounters, a proper handshake, tone at that time, eye contact, and other basic advice for first meetings with prospective employers.

“There is an array of leadership skills available now and I think that it is building women to feel very confident as they enter their workforce,” said Whitiker.

Whitaker said she believes intentional effort is crucial for women as they enter the workforce, and when leadership training is done there should be an effect that shapes them to be better than they were.

SDCEO said they hope to get 50-60 students to attend the Student Leadership event in March. To register go to or email [email protected]