Together Navigating Tomorrow

The 4th Annual Ontario Student Leadership Spring Conference

Until the Conference!

Riley McMullen

Riley McMullen has been involved in student leadership for over 25 years, and he is thankful for every opportunity that he has had along the way. He is proud to have served as president of his high school student council (Go Red Rams!) and as regional representative for the Ontario Secondary School Students’ Association. It is through this organization that he attended his first leadership conference, “State of Mind ’93,” which changed his life. In 1994, he organized his first leadership conference along with the student council presidents of the other local high schools. It was called “F.L.Y. (Forever Leading Youth) ’94.” Looking back on it now, this name seems appropriate, as he’s still leading youth, though in a different capacity. More than twenty years later, Riley is a secondary school teacher, a proud staff advisor of Tagwi Secondary School’s Student Council, and one of the driving forces behind “Tagwi Trek,” his school’s annual leadership camp. Riley was one of the original campers at the first Youth Leadership Camps Canada and went on to be a counselor at several YLCC camps thereafter. It is his great pleasure to be here, this many years later, passing on the torch to the amazing young leaders of today and tomorrow.

Workshop Description For “High Impact Student Leadership: Leading With A Vision”
There’s a lyric by the amazing songwriter Jason Isbell that asks, “Are you living the life you chose, or are you living the life that chose you?” What an amazing question this is! As leaders, and indeed as conscious, self-reflective human beings, we must all step back from time to time and examine our lives, our values, our relationships and our goals. It is all too easy to drift through life and to lose sight of what really matters, whether by focusing too much on the little things or by not focusing enough on anything. One way or another, we can find ourselves becoming misguided, complacent or even resentful if we don’t take the time to reflect upon why we have chosen to accept the responsibility of leadership and what we want to accomplish through our role as a leader. Sometimes we feel like we’ve lost control.

In the mid-19th Century, the American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, frustrated with the pace and values of contemporary society, left the comforts of his home to live in a cabin in the woods near Concord, Massachusetts. He lived there for over two years in solitude and contemplation, reflecting on the purpose of his life. In his famous memoir, “Walden, or Life in the Woods,” he wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” While we may not have two years to spare or a log cabin in the woods, each and every one of us can, and should, take the time to ask ourselves important questions about what exactly we’re doing here. Riley will challenge each of you to take a good look at what defines you as an individual and to prioritize your goals accordingly so that you can live the life that you choose and not to discover, at the end, that you have not lived.