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Students from New Jersey independent colleges and universities gathered at Caldwell University April 4 for a student government leadership meeting where they networked with and received executive coaching from legislators and higher education leaders. “Our intent was to unify and inspire leaders from independent colleges and universities and learn from New Jersey legislators and state government leaders,” said David Reeth, a senior at Caldwell and president of the college’s Student Government Association. Meeting of The S.G.Voices was sponsored by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of New Jersey and Caldwell University.

The students made connections and received professional advice on how to be a successful leader, how to network, how to affect change on their campuses and how the skills learned in student government are applicable to the business world. Senator Richard J. Codey provided the keynote address. Participants in the breakout sessions included Senator Steven V. Oroho, Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr. Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, Elizabeth “Betsy” Garlatti, chief of staff in New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, Samantha Benson and Andre’ Maglione, of the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, Robert J. Polakowski, vice president of AICUNJ, and Caldwell Business faculty Dr. Virginia Rich and Dr. Thomas Keen.

The groups discussed: college affordability and debt management, generating school spirit and campus involvement, and acquiring and retaining talent in student government.

“The breakout sessions provided valuable dialogue which enabled us to exchange ideas that we can use to enhance the way we do our business as an organization,” said Timothy Hoffman, Student Government Association president at Seton Hall University. “We are excited to bring these ideas back to Seton Hall and are looking forward to participating in the second SG Voices next year.”

Sammie Davis, SGA president at Centenary College, was excited about the outcome of the conference. “The connections made will help to make change not just on our campus, but across all AICUNJ campuses. I cannot wait to see what the future brings.”

Reeth said his team was grateful to the state government and student government leaders for supporting what they hope will be an annual meeting. “The goal of the event was to inspire collaboration and excellence among New Jersey’s independent colleges and universities and with AICUNJ’s help, we did just that.”