USI Essence of Excellence Summit to focus on “Excellence as a Mindset,” feature first-generation educator


The 12th annual University of Southern Indiana Multicultural Center Essence of Excellence Summit is set for 3 p.m. Friday, September 29 in Carter Hall, located in University Center West. This year’s theme, “Excellence is a Mindset,” aims to provide all college students, especially those of historically underrepresented backgrounds, the knowledge, tools and skills to achieve better versions of themselves.

The 2023 keynote speaker will be Dr. Lamara Warren, Founder and CMO of Mustard Seed Motivation, LLC. Warren is an innovative practitioner-scholar with over 20 years of experience in higher education in the areas of admissions, sorority and fraternity life, student affairs, multicultural affairs and residential life. She has spent her professional career leveraging leadership development, stakeholder engagement and program improvement to accelerate change and achieve strategic aims within large, complex organizations.

Warren has a strong research background and professional experience in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. She is adept at collaborating with faculty, staff and administrators across disciplines to identify and implement inclusive practices and policies that nurture a sense of belonging and help students succeed. She is also the co-creator of “The Game of Oppression,” an interactive tool available through NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education), that encourages and challenges individuals from diverse backgrounds to engage in authentic dialogue.

The Essence of Excellence Summit is an inclusive program designed to address topics relevant to students at the University, especially those of African American and/or Latinx heritage. All students are welcome. Workshops discuss, teach and provide students with knowledge and application pertaining to a specific skill or topic that will aid in students’ success during their collegiate journey and beyond.

“At this event, students have the opportunity to engage and learn with their peers and professionals for the purpose of focusing on their goals, improving themselves and exploring their own personal development,” says Jada Hogg, Outreach Coordinator and Student Mentor for the USI Multicultural Center. “It is the Multicultural Center’s hope that students take steps towards exceling at becoming the best version of themselves while here at USI.”