A new SUNY Oswego leadership institute called Oz Leads will launch Sept. 21, helping develop students’ skills for top positions on campus and in life beyond.

The 25 students selected for the first Oz Leads will attend a series of 20 weekly workshops designed to build skills in identity, teamwork, consciousness of self and more.

Along the way, participants will work as a cohort, create leadership projects, attend a leadership conference and visit a leadership organization, as well as hear, on Nov. 9, from noted motivational speaker Arel Moodie, best-selling author of “Your Starting Point for Student Success.”

Though non-credit-bearing, the initial institute attracted more than 50 applicants, said Dr. Jerri Drummond, associate vice president for student affairs, dean of students and coordinator of Oz Leads.

“We found there’s a need for a leadership institute,” Drummond said. “It’s totally voluntary. The students we’ve selected want to be in this program. This is geared to everyday students who have an interest in being a leader or understanding leadership. They are not really sure they have what it takes to be a leader.”

Essays submitted by applicants bear that out. “As a part of Oz Leads, I think I can get the chance to learn how to get myself out there, build confidence and take more chances with the opportunities on campus,” one student wrote.

Jackie Starr, a SUNY Oswego sophomore majoring in teaching English to speakers of other languages, said her own experience is not atypical. She didn’t join clubs or other activities as a freshman, and she was frightened of leadership.

Expecting change

“I got an email (about Oz Leads) from Dr. Drummond right after school ended in the spring. It said, ‘Do what scares you.’ So I am doing that.”

She added, “I expect a huge change in my mindset. I’m really hoping for it.”

Other participants, all sophomores and juniors, have a rich mix of majors across campus, from risk management and insurance to wellness management, from mathematics to biochemistry.

To achieve a certificate of completion for Oz Leads, students must attend all sessions and complete a leadership project developed individually or as a team of up to five people.

Faculty and staff making presentations in Oz Leads workshops include college staff involved with student success, such as Christy Huynh from Career Services and Mike Paestella from the Point, men’s ice hockey coach Ed Gosek and Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Jerald Woolfolk, along with Irene Scruton and G. Rob Scott from the School of Business.

Sponsorship of Oz Leads is thanks to a donation by alumnus William Spinelli, class of 1984, who is chair of the Oswego College Foundation board of directors. Spinelli is president of Titan Custom Homes in Naples, Florida.