Thousands of Alabama students gather for leadership conference

Students gathered at the BJCC for leadership conference.

Five thousand students from across the state are in Birmingham to learn how to lead.

These students figured out that in order to be a good leader they will need what employees call "soft skills", and that won't come out of a textbook.

Yvonne Avila and roger Lugo are engineers for Alabama Power. Looking at them, you may not guess one is a breast cancer survivor, and the other was once a troubled teen headed down a path of self destruction. They say their stories are just right for this generation of students. "They need to see somebody who has been walking through those hard times already and really be equipped with what they need,"

Avila shared her story of achievement with students gathered at the BJCC to learn character building, money management and decision making skills. All necessary to become strong student leaders and future employees. "Leadership skills are skills you will use all your life. I mean there are some things that you learn in school that you may not use in your career but leadership is always used everywhere you go," said Shelby Wages, a tenth grader at Athens High School.

She says she expects to take back fresh ideas to organizations within her school. Wages already has demonstrated the ability to step forward. "I did a project on childhood cancer awareness and I advocated for a specific law that didn't get funded," she said.

For students who have goals for government careers, state leaders were there as guides. State Representative Mac Buttram from Cullman county says what's learned in this room will help these young people transition into the world they will one day lead. "This helps these students see the possibilities of what's out there after high school. What I love to see is that there are jobs available for right after they leave high school. They can go to work immediately. And those who want to go to four year college and get advanced degrees there are opportunities for that too," said Buttram.