BC Students Attend SDLC


Introduction & Peer Facilitating

By DeAndra Forde, 12th grade

The Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) is a multi racial and cultural conference that students within independent schools can experience, from grades 9-12. SDLC allows students to reflect, learn, and think about themselves in a new light; a way in which they have never thought of before. Students walk away with a newfound understanding of themselves, the way in which they see the world, and this is all while connecting with new peers in the process.

The conference is led by a variety of adults and peer facilitators from different backgrounds.  This year I had the chance to be a peer facilitator. As a facilitator, I was able to take everything that I had learned and experienced from when I attended SDLC my freshman year, and truly applied it to myself this time around. Not only did I learn more about myself, but I was able to go full circle. I helped lead discussion and activities to help my SDLC peers find and create a new appreciation and development of their own identities.

Family Groups

By Aidan Gilmartin, 10th grade

One of the first things we did when we arrived at SDLC in Indianapolis was getting put into our family groups. Because of the amount of students at the conference, (more than one thousand), it would have been hard to socialize, connect, and most importantly have a discussion where everyone is able to participate with that many kids. Our family groups consisted of 50 kids ranging from 9th grade to 12th grade. We came from all different places and ethnic backgrounds. All different races and upbringings. This was helpful because it gifted me with unique perspectives and stories that I wouldn’t get otherwise. Within this group, you had an even smaller group that you would break up into. This was your family, you stayed with the same group each day so you could bond and get closer with each other. It really made me feel like I was in a family. We did many things in our family group. We talked about our experiences, discussed privilege, participated in activities, talked about social justice and how making a difference at such young age is so important. It helped me realize that our generation is going to be the one to make these changes; the world needs us to. And we need to step up to the challenge. I will never forgot the experiences I had at SDLC and the friends I made. It was truly a life changing weekend. For those few days, I was a part of something bigger than myself. Not just a family, but a movement. A movement that will change the world one day.


Affinity Groups

By Cal Goodin, 12th grade

Over the course of SDLC, you get the opportunity to meet with Affinity Groups twice. Affinity Groups are spaces where everyone in the room shares a common identity—most often a racial identity, but that is not always the case. It’s important that groups are split over two days, because it means you can attend two different groups. That’s awesome, because if, for example, you identify as black and latina, you would have the time to go to both groups. You wouldn’t be forced to choose which aspect of your identity is the most important to you.

I attended the LGBTQ+ affinity group for both days. I’ve never seen a more supportive group of people. The first day, all we did was introductions. Each person addressed the room by saying who they were, how they identified, and if this was their first time saying so. Each person received roaring applause and cheers. These did not weaken as we got towards the end of the 70+ person group. This group was super humbling for me, because sometimes I forget how lucky I am. I live in NYC, have easy access to not just one, but two LGBTQ+ centers (and I can get to them without my parents’ help), and there are many out faculty members at BC. Having conversations with LGBTQ+ students from all over the nation, I was reminded that for many the situation is very different. One kid I spoke with mentioned there were only two gay people in his town, and others were crying because they had never seen so many LGBTQ+ people before. Affinity groups are an integral part of SDLC because they create a sense of belonging, and put some concrete meaning to the phrase “you are not alone.”

Guest Speakers

By Toluwani Roberts, 10th grade

Both POCC and SDLC opened with an amazing speech from Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. He captivated the audience with his humor and energy. His speech ranged from race in America to gay rights. Despite the diversity in age and cultural background of the audience, there is no doubt that everyone who listened to him was attentive and entertained. The message I received from his speech was that change is necessary and we all can contribute.

The second day, students had their own guest speaker, Cheryl Brown Henderson, the daughter of Rev. Oliver L. Brown who filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education. This famous case came to be known as Brown v. Board of Education. She led us through the process of filing the lawsuit, emphasizing that it was not spontaneous, but was instead led by the NAACP. Many textbooks and educators continue to portray the idea that Oliver Brown and the other parents were just tired and angry, resulting in this case. This showed me how important integrity is in history, especially when black history is not often taught in schools.

Lastly, we were fortunate enough to view Sonia Nazario’s speech on Immigration and Motivation on the last day of the conference. She gave us personal insight into the desperation of illegal immigration, attempted by both adults and young children. She herself tried the tough road to the United States through train tops, encountering violence and pain — twice. However, along this journey she also saw great things: when the freight train would slow down, residents in the town would throw food and water to those who were riding on it. Despite immigration being a controversial issue in the United States, her story allowed the listener to sympathize and understand why it is necessary and dangerous for emigrants.

The diversity in speakers and topics really reflected the diversity of SDLC. I can say that I learned something new from each of them, and it was an amazing experience.


New Experience

By Selena Bahadur, 11th grade

SDLC was a moving and enlightening new experience for me. Being surrounded by a large group of diverse people from across the nation with similar sentiments on the importance of diversity made me feel supported, and provided a perfect environment for growth. I received a “little fish, big pond” kind of experience, which had nothing but benefits in all aspects of the conference. I personally found it amazing that one could feel their safest among a group of 1,600 people.

I have grown and learned so much more, beyond merely discussing the basics of diversity. I’ve learned to further appreciate people just because they’re people before anything else, which is necessary in every aspect of life and am glad I was fortunate enough to have taken part in such a positive event.

New Experience

By Avery Smith, 10th grade

SDLC was definitely an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. Normally, I don’t get to have as many deep and profound conversations about identity and the effect society has on people’s lives as I did on this trip. I couldn’t believe that I was surrounded by 1,599 other people who were completely different than me but still somehow understood everything I felt, thought and said. Never before had I been so comfortable within a group of complete strangers.

In my normal everyday scenario, I can’t help but notice that I’m different from everyone else in an infinite number of ways. I move through the world worrying about the judgements and criticisms others may secretly have in store for me when instead I should be enjoying my life. At SDLC this was not the case at all. I felt less like a tiny broken shell and more like a peacock with fully spread wings. Knowing that I was always “seen” by people who I somehow knew I could trust and become close to was one of the best feelings in the world.

Typically, it feels scary when I try to meet and start conversation with someone I do not know. I seem awkward and uncomfortable. On this trip however, I made better friends with people in ten minutes than I did with people who I’ve known for years. I’m definitely going to miss all the new people I met on this trip and I will of course miss that feeling of home and safety. But now, it’s my job to take everything that I learned and experienced on this trip and share it with as many people as possible. I did, after all, promise someone that I would.


Adult/Student Affinity Groups

By Sabrina Quintanilla, 12th grade

SDLC has a second affinity group meeting where the genders are divided and adults are added into the conversations. My experience in the Hispanic/ Latina/girls affinity group was one of the most meaningful experiences at SDLC for me. My group of four students and four adults went around in a circle answering prompts such as “How does it feel to be Hispanic/Latina at your school?” as honestly as we could. With each conversation I realized that something was missing within my Berkeley Carroll experience. There were no Latino teachers or faculty (with the exception of maintenance) who I could relate to, talk to about my concerns, and guide me through the process of finding my identity as a Latina. When the workshop was over a few teachers gave me their numbers in case I needed someone to talk to in the future. As Diversity Day gets closer, however, I think about all the Latino students who haven’t had my experience, who may need a Latino adult in school to help develop identities. I think this is especially important considering how vital these few years of high school are to our growth as students.


By Darrell Pona, 10th grade

SDLC is a great place to talk to and meet new people from all around the country who would have the same interest in inclusion as you would. Having people come from almost every state and even other countries really allows students to make connections with people who could possibly lie in their near future. Being a very outgoing person definitely helped me introduce myself and make a lot of connections to only a few of the 1600 other students there, but for students who may be more shy, SDLC still allows for a lot of networking. Within each student’s family group there is such a diverse group of interesting people that it would actually be difficult to find someone they cannot connect and speak with. I became very close to nearly everyone in my family group, and their acceptance towards anything that I thought or believed really made me feel like they were extended family members. Then within the family group, our home groups allowed students to meet and connect with really cool people. Aside from splitting into these smaller groups, the large meetings such as the lunches and dance are another chance to give and receive Facebooks, Instagrams, Snapchats, and phone numbers to stay in touch with the many great people you meet at SDLC. So, aside from the immense amounts of learning available at SDLC, the many people one can meet for lifelong connections or even friendships is another amazing reason to attend the Student Diversity Leadership Conference.