The Festa Graduate Leadership Fellowship (established by Fred Festa '81 and MaryLynn Barbero Festa '82) offers full-time graduate students at SUNY Oswego a unique opportunity to model effective leadership styles and practices in a variety of organizational settings.

The fellowship traditionally provides the opportunity to shadow a corporate CEO or organizational leader, work on a public policy issue with a legislator or public official, or develop a significant project for a non-profit organization. The major goal of the fellowship is to provide a mentored experience that will help advance leadership skills. Applicants will propose a self-designed learning experience to help attain leadership goals which has been approved by the proposed site mentor, along with graduate advisor or program director/department chair. The fellowship award is typically $4,000, but varies depending upon the scope and merit of the proposed budget.


To be eligible for the Diversity Graduate Fellowship Program at SUNY Oswego you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a SUNY Oswego graduate student matriculated into any graduate degree program.
  • You must be interviewed by the potential site mentor and receive an endorsement from the site placement based on your plan of study.
  • Your graduate advisor or program director/department chair must be willing to monitor your performance.

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Deadline: April 1

Achievements of Festa Fellows

Each year, several SUNY Oswego graduate students are given the opportunity to have hands-on learning experiences in professional settings, with the support of the Festa Graduate Leadership Fellowship. Alfred and his wife MaryLynn Festa, both graduates of Oswego, established the Festa Fellowship to encourage work-integrated education in order to help students gain experience and become more marketable in the workforce. The Festa Fellowship is designed to financially assist students while the students gain experience in his or her field through a work site placement. During the placement, students work with an on-site mentor in order to fully understand the company or organization. Festa Fellows have been placed in leading local companies like Welch Allyn and CenterState CEO, national offices, and globally.

“There are elements of understanding that can’t be taught without entering the physical atmosphere in which they take place,” said Micheal Pittavino, who graduated with a Master of Arts in History in December 2013.

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Pittavino spent his summer working for The Diplomacy Center in Washington D.C., a museum in the works and part of the U.S. Department of State. “As someone who has expended considerable effort studying the history of American foreign policy,” Pittavino said. “To be inside the Department of States adds a level of understanding to the work involved with respect to the U.S. being a major global player.” Pittavino is currently working in research and exhibit development within the local history field, but his ultimate goal, stemming from his Festa experience, is to work for a federal or state agency responsible for big picture cultural and historic preservation.

Justin Mastrangelo chose to stay local and put his skills to work at Zink Shirts in Oswego N.Y. He graduated in Dec. 2013 with a Master of Arts in Art and is working at Zink full time, creating new shirt designs and aiding in the growth of the business. “My successful future will be furthered by the valued perspective I gained through a creative small business,” Mastrangelo said. “Currently, I plan to establish Zink Shirts’ connections with the college through internships and outreach with student organizations.

Jon Zella, graduate student in the department of history, also stayed local and spent his summer at the Safe Haven Museum near Fort Ontario, where he focused on event planning, social media and museum operations. “I would really like to work in a medium size museum where I would have a variety of responsibilities,” Zella said.

Jason Macleod, MBA student, took the fellowship as an opportunity to intern at the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology (IAGT) at Cayuga Community College, working directly with the CEO to help restructure the organization. “The opportunity to work side-by-side with a CEO significantly expanded and sharpened my abilities to speak and write in professional settings,” Macleod said. Macleod learned about and worked with Geospatial Information Technology (GIT) during his Festa Fellowship experience.

Ahmeda Hrustranovic decided to travel back to her home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, to work with Bosnalijek Pharmaceuticals and explore her options as a Professional Science Master's (PSM) student with a concentration in chemistry. “While at Bosnalijek, I developed skills and techniques that were directly applicable to my careers in both chemistry and business management,” Hrustranovic said. “In the last few weeks of my fellowship, I was offered to help with the development of a new drug that Bosnalijek was working on.” Throughout her fellowship, Hrustanovic gained the ability to adapt to different cultures, communicate and work with individuals from different parts of the world and learned about the importance of collaboration. Hrustanovic graduates in May 2014 and plans to travel during the summer.

The Festa Graduate Leadership Fellowship seeks accomplished and motivated students who are looking to transition from academic to professional experiences. Applicants propose self-designed learning experiences to help attain leadership goals and unlike traditional internship experiences, Festa students learn about the company with hands-on experience, contributing to meetings, projects and other day-to-day business. “The fellowship truly is designed for those who desire to lead in their respective fields as it provides the opportunity to seek out experiences at the collegiate level that I never thought were possible,” Pittavino said. Students can earn up to six credits during the fellowship period and funding is provided through the proposed budget students complete during the application process. The budget covers housing, transportation and other living expenses.

Ahmeda Hrustanovic '14, Jason Macleod '14, Justin Mastrangelo '13, Micheal Pittavino '13, and Jon Zella '14

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