Everyone needs a good role model, especially when you’re in high school. We need someone to guide us away from possible mistakes, while showing us the positive things we might miss as we strive for our goals. But how do you find these mentors?

St. Ursula Academy, an all-girls Catholic college preparatory high school located in Walnut Hills, has decided to bring potential role models straight to their students with its third annual Leadership Conference on Saturday, March 8. The conference aims to give all SUA students an opportunity to meet successful women before leaving high school.

“When we were looking at programming, one of the things we realized is we do a lot of programming with our freshmen … and we do a lot of programming with our seniors,” says Sarah Catlin, SUA director of admissions and student life. “We saw an opportunity to increase programming towards our sophomores and juniors, in preparation for the leadership roles that they would have as juniors and seniors.”

Catlin and SUA saw an opportunity to do this when they took a look at their own alumni. “You look around at our alumni, and you think, ‘How do we get these women around our students?’ ” laughs Catlin.

The Leadership Conference helps students develop leadership skills while they’re still in school by meeting successful women. Every guest speaker is chosen based on how she found success in her life’s work, as well as the lessons they learned about responsible leadership along the way. It’s an opportunity for young women to look at what these leaders have learned and apply it to their lives.

“One of the things when we first started talking about this concept is [that] when you say leader, [high school girls] think student council president,” says Catlin. To give students a broader understanding of what a leader is, each year has a different theme. Last year’s was communication and leadership while this year’s is passion and leadership.

This year’s speakers include Jan and Rachel Tepe, a mother-daughter dentistry team who provide dental care in undeveloped nations; Mary Ellen Mitchell, co-founder of Lydia’s House for the Homeless; Eva Floyd, music director for the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati; and Lydia Jacobs-Horten, director of facilities and real estate at Proctor & Gamble. Among the previous guest speakers are Deborah Platt Majoras, former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and current chief legal officer of P&G; Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco, Hamilton County coroner; and Margarita Kalmikova, a two-time Olympian and swimming and diving head coach at Tiffin University.

Catlin feels that the most important things the students gain from the Leadership Conference is a new understanding of leadership in both others and themselves.

“I think they get some confidence because I think they see themselves as leaders [afterward] in ways that maybe they didn’t before. For the freshmen and sophomores, … they see juniors and seniors and they can start to see themselves in those girls. That’s really powerful. And then even better is they see alum and women doing things that they hope to do, and they start to understand, ‘That’s leadership and that could be me.’ ”