August 4, 2020

Student Leadership Institute Changes its Focus in Response to COVID-19

By the Office of Student Life

SUNY Empire’s Student Leadership Institute (SLI) is accustomed to providing help; in fact, helping to create lasting change is the basis of the entire program. Through various workshops, informational interviews, individual volunteer projects, social action projects, and a host of other modalities, the SLI program takes students through the process of transforming themselves from individual leaders into team leaders. It is an intensive and uniquely rewarding program.

Under typical circumstances, Spring Term finds the SLI students creating new programs or finding creative ways to enact positive change within their communities and environments. In fact, responding effectively to a changing environment is one of the skills that SLI students work to build throughout the year-long program. For this year’s SLI class, the ability to do so was placed front and center as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The 2019-2020 SLI class brainstormed dozens of ways to effectively service their communities and had already begun work on these “Social Action Projects” before Governor Cuomo enacted the “NY State on Pause” initiative in response to Covid-19. Several SLI students, recognizing the need to assist their local communities, immediately tacked away from their original project plan and toward new projects that could assist their local communities. Some students chose to circulate petitions calling for special grocery store hours for senior citizens and immunocompromised persons; some began holding virtual wellness workshops. Others stepped up to provide support behind the scenes. Still others, already working within businesses deemed essential, devoted additional time to their jobs to help ensure the health and safety of all. Their ability to reevaluate their circumstances and consider how best to provide leadership within the parameters of their own unique situations, is a true testament to their abilities as leaders.

With the onset of COVID-19 and the additional stressors it created, continuation in the SLI was made voluntary. In spite of their changed situations and circumstances, several SLI members asked to continue forward. In response to this request, the Office of Student Life, in conjunction with Julie Gedro, dean of the school of business, offered workshops centered on Leadership within the Virtual World.

SUNY Empire’s Student Leadership Institute is open to all matriculated SUNY Empire students, in all degree programs. Applicants must have completed at least one full term at the College and demonstrate a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA. The application window for the 2020-2021 SLI class is currently open. For more information, please visit the Student Leadership Webpage.


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