Student Empowerment Series focuses students on “Building Community in Crisis”

The Student Empowerment Series focused on

The Student Empowerment Series focused on "Building Community in Crisis."

On the last Saturday in April, the Troy University stadium towers were filled with students eager to work towards “Building a Community in Crisis,” with Dr. Kelli Peterson, as part of the Student Empowerment Series.

“What we are focusing on this time is helping students understand how to build community in the midst of crisis,” said Dr. Dionne Rosser-Mims, Vice Chancellor of Troy University’s Phenix City campus.

“We have defined community to mean that you are reflecting on the groups that with which you intend to associate and do a deep dive in terms of reflecting on why you continue to engage with those same groups,” she said.

The agenda was packed with activities to help students look at themselves introspectively, plan self-development techniques, understand others using empathy, and learning how to rest intentionally. Alongside these activities, students enjoyed lunch and truly got to know one another.

Rosser-Mims’ mission was to ensure that students left the stadium towers knowing who they are and to acknowledge their identities, alongside how those identities impact the way in which they form groups.

“As a leader, we have to be very conscious and intentional to assure that the groups we engage with are diverse,” said Rosser-Mims.

“We’re not just talking about ethnicity or race, we are talking about disabilities, strengths, talents, geographic representation, languages, skill sets, age, sexual orientation — everything that factors into what makes our world so wonderful and diverse.”

However, Rosser-Mims also had the vision come full circle, because acknowledging diversity in yourself and others is the first step to becoming an effective leader. 

“Thinking about Dr. Hawkins’s vision to ensure, to the extent possible, that every student leaves this institution with the leadership skills and capabilities to lead locally, but also be effective leaders globally,” she said.

Rosser-Mims said the challenge she wants students to face is to intentionally think and acknowledge who they are hanging around.

“From a team leader perspective, you might push yourself to say, ‘who’s perspective is missing,’ because that one perspective could hold the key, or the solution, to a challenge or problem that we are trying to achieve,” she said.

Rosser-Mims said she hopes that students impact the Troy community from attending this series by understanding themselves, being an effective leader, and being capable of having constructive conversations. 

Rosser-Mims added that socially, there is tension that prevents constructive conversations.

“With social challenges occurring for years, when you really pull the onion back, it really boils down to people who neither trust each other or they don’t understand each other,” she said. “They aren’t willing to take the risks to understand.”

That’s why she believes constructive conversations are necessary to move forward against challenges you and your team will face.

“When you have people who think differently, who hold a different perspective from you, that is the way of the world. The team you lead might have someone like that on it. This is the building block for how you lead or work with these people who think so differently,” she said.

Rosser-Mims added that not only is she humbled and grateful, but she is excited. 

“As I’ve been able to sit back and watch the start of this session until where we are now, everyone in the room has had some shift in some way in their thinking. Even if they don’t act on it now, this is where it starts,” she said.

“One outcome I hope for is that everyone in the room will exchange conversations about what they have experienced today and will have some intentional self-reflection on where they can implement what they have learned.” 

To learn more about Dr. Kelli Peterson, you can visit

Learn more about Troy University’s Student Empowerment Series, by visiting

Dr. Kelli Peterson was the featured speaker for the Student Empowerment Series on April 30. (TROY photo)
Dr. Kelli Peterson was the featured speaker for the Student Empowerment Series on April 30. (TROY photo)