By Brooke Coupal
Izzi Giles is entering her junior year as the vice president of the Accounting Society. But before the academic year starts, the accounting and finance major from Kingston, New Hampshire, has one major goal: “I want to learn how to be a good leader.”
So she, along with 24 other students, attended the second annual Summester Leadership Academy hosted by the Office of Student Activities and Leadership (SA&L) at University Crossing.
“The students receive an interactive and dynamic experience, not only from our presenters but also from their peers, that they can take back to their clubs,” says SA&L Asst. Director Cheyenne Alexander, who organized the event.
The students, most of whom are on club executive boards, took part in breakout sessions that dove into topics including recruitment and retention, event planning, marketing, student life and well-being, inclusivity and civic engagement.
Chemical engineering major Enzo Biagini, a rising senior from Lowell, was eager to gain insight from the breakout session presenters as he prepares to serve as the president of the Blue Crew, an organization that leads the student section at athletic events.
“I figured this would be a good way to find extra tips and tricks that could help me run the club,” he says.
Biagini stopped by the civic engagement session presented by SA&L Asst. Director Michael Kennedy, where he says he learned how to broaden Blue Crew activities beyond the campus.
“The hope for this session was to allow our club leaders to see how easy it is to infuse civic engagement into their club by looking at the values that they stand for and connecting them to options both at UMass Lowell and within the Greater Lowell community,” Kennedy says.
Dorcas Ruhamya, a chemistry major and president of the Catholic Student Union, gained hands-on experience during the marketing workshop alongside Yemi Shimomoto, a rising senior psychology major and co-vice president of the Japanese Student Association. Jessie Santer, SA&L assistant director for promotions and media, showed Ruhamya and Shimomoto how they could use Instagram Reels to gain attention to their clubs. The two students then ventured around the fourth floor of University Crossing making their own Reel.
“I’m excited to use what I’ve learned to make the Catholic Student Union bigger and better,” says Ruhamya, a rising junior.
Student Organ Donation Advocates (SODA) President Anthony Milisci, a rising junior majoring in public health, discovered how to plan a successful event with Giana Panagiotakos, University Crossing Operations’ assistant director, before meeting with the Office of Student Life and Well-being and learning how they can support clubs through wellness trainings and event collaborations.
“Our hope was that students would leave feeling inspired to prioritize well-being for their club in this upcoming school year,” says Office of Student Life & Well-being Asst. Director Hannah Monbleau, who presented alongside Director Ruben Sança.
SODA treasurer Rebekah Oliveira, a rising junior nursing major, gained knowledge about the impact of inclusivity from the Office of Multicultural Affairs after discussing how to improve club recruitment and retention with SA&L Assoc. Director Joanne Dunbar and SA&L graduate fellow Laura Smith. She then linked back up with Milisci to compare notes about what they learned from the presenters as well as from the other students in attendance.
“You don’t often have a bunch of executive boards in the same room, so it’s a great opportunity to be able to collaborate with other student organizations,” Milisci says.
“Getting to know other people and their goals on campus is so amazing,” Oliveira adds.
Following the breakout sessions, students gathered for treasurer training, where they learned how to use their organization’s budget. They also heard from the Office of Student Conduct about the positive effect that student leaders have on their peers.
The students left the Summester Leadership Academy with a new set of skills that they can apply to their clubs and to their day-to-day lives.
“Everything the students learned is really important to help run their club, but it can also be transferred outside of their club, so this academy helps develop them as humans too,” Alexander says.