Student Diversity Leadership Conference

Mia Van Mater

Each year, independent schools across the country and abroad hope to get a spot in the competitive lottery for student admittance to the NAIS Student Diversity Conference (SDLC). Gwynedd, fortunate enough to receive four slots to the conference this year, sent an inaugural group of students to attend on December 1st-4th. Due to the pandemic, SDLC was held virtually, which allowed for over 2,000 students around the world to attend the multicultural, multiracial, and diverse assembly of high schoolers. Centered on self-reflection, social justice, forming allies, and understanding other cultures, the conference provided a safe space for students to have important conversations about current issues. The wide variety of activities and speakers taught students ways to raise awareness, promote activism, and create change in their schools.

Sahiba Tandon ‘21, Jordan White ’21, Ava Harvest ’23, and Mia Van Mater ’22 had the opportunity to participate in SDLC. When asked about her experience, Sahiba Tandon passionately gave her account on the event.


“The conference was rewarding in ways that are hard to put into words. Over the course of four days, I met people from all across the country and heard stories that I will never forget. I was inspired by many young men and women and got the chance to vocalize my opinions as well as learn from others through the greatest art of listening. The conference challenged my knowledge and perception of the world and gave me a new sense of hope I had been searching for the last couple of years. Through difficult discussions on race, gender, sexuality, inequity, and other matters involving social injustice, I got a glimpse into the lifestyle of those who are less fortunate than I and learned from them on how to create a more inclusive and accessible environment.”


SDLC also offered numerous affinity groups, which participants joined based on their personal identity. Affinity groups are small groups formed around a common, shared identity. Affinities gave students the chance to connect and discuss a range of topics with others who identify themselves with similar characteristics, such as race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Jordan White spoke about the conference’s impact on her. She stated, “being around large groups of people who not only support me but look like me was a positive and emotional journey that I am so glad to have had the opportunity to experience.”


At the beginning and end of each day, the girls had a check-in meeting with chaperones, Ms. Roberson and Ms. Fasano. The meeting served as a great time for conversation, reflection, questions, and ideas regarding information learned in the conference. Another attendee, Ava Harvest, shared about her experience at SDLC and her hope for future change. Ava said, “I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to listen, learn, and lead these last four days. I have made connections to last a lifetime and have returned a more empowered and capable person. The tools

and resources I’ve gained are the first small steps that act as catalysts for real, tangible change within our community. I couldn’t be more grateful.”

The girls, who all came back inspired and full of ideas, hope to return to the conference next year. In the meantime, they are working alongside DEIJ leader, Ms. Roberson, on ways to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within the Gwynedd community.