CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Though summer break is just beginning for college and university students across West Virginia, one group is already preparing for the coming academic year.

More than 70 student government leaders are in Lewis County this week for the 2019 West Virginia Student Leadership Conference at Jackson’s Mill.

“I just think that this conference is amazing and it’s very helpful for students,” said Danica Rodrigues, the secretary of Shepherd University’s Student Government Association and a Martinsburg native.

Student accountability was one of her priority areas.

For Alisha Bragg from Webster County, the vice president of the New River Community and Technical College – Nicholas Campus Student Government Association, better communication was a goal.

“I hope to bring communication between our higher reps in our school with the students,” Bragg said.

“I kind of stand in between them, so I hear the voices of the students and then I take that to our higher powers so that they’re heard.”

Ways to put those goals into action was just one of the topics Rodrigues, Bragg and the other attendees were covering, according to Dr. Tom Segar, vice president for student affairs and information technology at Shepherd University and the conference chair.

“I want them to tap into their capacity as leaders, learn more about themselves and learn about how to lead and be effective on their campus and also to recognize they do have the capacity to be even more effective than what they might believe at the onset,” he said.

This year’s conference was his ninth as chair.

“I believe this is how we create the next generation of effective leaders, effective citizens. It starts here,” Segar told MetroNews.

“We have some remarkable students in West Virginia and I think this conference is a one-of-a-kind experience that I don’t see replicated throughout the country and I believe this makes a difference.”

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia sponsor the Student Leadership Conference coordinated through Shepherd.

It was scheduled to wrap up Wednesday.