Peru State students attend Phi Beta Lambda Leadership Conference

Peru State students attend Phi Beta Lambda Leadership Conference

Peru, Nebraska– Twenty-seven Peru State students travelled to New Orleans for a National Leadership Conference hosted by the Phi Beta Lambda organization. In addition to attending the conference, students toured local historical sites and attractions, including the Café du Monde, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, and the Mississippi River.

Dr. Kyle Ryan, professor of Kinesiology, and Dr. Sheri Grotrian-Ryan, professor of business, accompanied the students as part of a new Student Engagement Enhancement project initiated this year. Students from around the nation who have an interest in business and leadership attended PBL’s fall leadership conferences.

On Thursday, before the conference, participants met for lunch at the Hard Rock Café, where they listened to the General Manager of the Hard Rock, Ed Ennis, speak about his business operations. Students also met with the Hard Rock head chef, retail store manager and entertainment manager for more business and professional insight.

Peru State students at Hard Rock Cafe

Peru State students at Hard Rock Cafe.

Students toured the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC) on Friday. The NOBIC is a “nonprofit business incubator dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and supporting Louisiana innovators as they develop life-saving new technologies,” according to the NOBIC website.

Grotrian-Ryan said, “We met with Margery Gilbert, Event Planner, and David Bode, Commercialization Director. These individuals shared some great information about the organization and provided a tour of the facilities.”

At the National Leadership Conference, Ryan and Grotrian-Ryan held a workshop entitled, “Making Sense of College Wellness.” Their workshop focused on balancing the different domains of wellness while in college; nearly 100 students and sponsors were in attendance.

Dr. Grotrian-Ryan and Dr. Ryan presenting during the conference.

Dr. Grotrian-Ryan and Dr. Ryan presenting during the conference.

Other various workshops and professional development sessions were held throughout the day with a keynote speaker, Rhett Laubach, after dinner. Rhett Laubach is a professional speaker, leadership trainer, author, presentations coach and owner of YourNextSpeaker, LLC.

On Saturday, students attended more breakout sessions that focused on business etiquette, careers in accounting and social media marketing, coding and web design, college preparation/wellness, discovering leadership styles, ethics, fundraising campaigns, interviewing skills, IT and cybersecurity, overcoming obstacles in leadership, principles of persuasion and project and stress management.

Another keynote speaker, Patrick Perez, spoke Saturday night. says the motivational speaker, “empowers students to break through their challenges and break free from their excuses.”

Peru State won an award for having the largest college group at the conference. The state of Nebraska was also recognized for having the largest attendance at the conference; however, Peru State made up the entire Nebraska representation.

Sunday was left as a free day for students to explore New Orleans. Some students attended a free tailgate at Champions Squire before the New Orleans Saints game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Other students spent time at the National World War II Museum, one of the top tourist attractions in New Orleans.

Students met with two PSC alumni, Ryan Arnold and Amanda Jo Cleek Arnold, who live in Houston, Sunday evening to discuss their college experiences, the transition from college to the workplace, moving to a place where they previously did not know anybody, and their experience living through Hurricane Harvey. The Arnolds both currently work for Verizon.

Grotrian-Ryan said, “Dr. Ryan and I felt it would be beneficial for students to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ from others who were just recently students and have gone through many of the same challenges and been faced with many similar decisions. It always seems to mean more when students can visualize and relate to those who have recently been students.”

Throughout the trip, Ryan and Grotrian-Ryan organized a “NOLA scavenger hunt” to keep students engaged and entertained. Students were supposed to take pictures at different locations to participate in the scavenger hunt. Before the students departed Monday morning, winners of the scavenger hunt were awarded Mardi Gras masks.

Peru State students in New Orleans.

For more information about the National Leadership Conference, contact Dr. Sheri Grotrian-Ryan at or Dr. Kyle Ryan at


Ashley Peiman contributed to this release.