Retreat Builds Skills and Confidence for Student Leaders

Student Leaders at CUNY SPS August 2023 Retreat

The Student Association and Urban Male Scholars (UMS) at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) sponsored a special retreat for ACE and UMS mentors, student club leaders, and Student Association members —a first for the School.

The “Elevate Your Leadership” retreat was created in conjunction with the Office of Student Life and developed into a series of workshops to foster leadership skills.

The workshops took place right before the beginning of the Fall Semester, from August 15 through August 24, to ensure that student leaders could begin the academic year properly prepared for their leadership roles. Each workshop had a different theme, allowing students to build a diverse skill set. The topics covered in the virtual workshops were: Understanding Your Strengths; Team Building; CUNY SPS Leadership Essentials; Culture of Respect; Time Management; and Goal Setting. To wrap up the series, the last session was a special team-building game night held on campus as an in-person affair.

Associate Director of Student Life Anthony Sweeney explained why the retreat training series was created. “I expanded the co-curricular programming offered by the Office of Student Life here at CUNY SPS over the past couple of years. We established a strong base for clubs to thrive,” Sweeney said. “So leadership development is the next step in our students’ personal development. It provides them with the skills that so nicely align with their academic work and their professional goals.”

The number of student clubs at CUNY SPS has grown at an astonishing rate. The first clubs started in the ’20-’21 academic year as a response to the frequent student requests for pathways to build a more cohesive and engaged student community. Today, there are a total of 20 clubs, and the number continues to grow as new groups are organized each semester.

Reshma Jaigobin, student development and leadership coordinator, shared their enthusiasm for the new skill-building training program. “Our students are superheroes for taking on leadership roles while also balancing personal, familial, and academic responsibilities,” said Jaigobin. “I saw this retreat as a way to honor our students and their commitment by providing leadership workshops that create a sense of community and instill confidence.”

Students appreciated this special recognition. The workshops garnered a large and dedicated group of student leaders each night. Attendees for the workshops included student government representatives from the Student Association; mentors from the UMS and Ace Scholars programs; as well as club leaders representing 18 other various organizations such as the Pride Club; Disability and Access Coalition; the Painting Club, and the Psychology Club.

CUNY SPS Health Services Administration BA student Shanice Drakes applauded the training program. "I enjoyed the connection I have made with other student leaders. This retreat has given me the tools to become a better leader for the CUNY SPS student body and beyond,” Drakes shared. “I recommend the retreat to any student leader wanting to improve their professional and personal skills."

Herman Caballeros, a Psychology BA student who also serves as a UMS mentor, weighed in on the benefits of student leadership. “People often think to themselves, ‘This will look good on my resume,’” Caballeros said. “And although this is true, the bonds and skillsets acquired [in the retreat] supersede the added resume experience…The time we have in the program is limited, but the relationships and knowledge gained last a lifetime!”

Lennyn Jacob, a Disability Studies BA student who serves as a co-chair of the Student Association, a UMS mentor, and participates in multiple other organizations, offered advice to students who may be on the fence about pursuing leadership roles. “People come to college for all sorts of reasons. But what we all have in common is a desire to have ‘the college experience.’” Jacob continued, “We can spend our time focused on our academics...However, it isn’t until you make room for the experiential learning opportunities that we really get value out of the college experience.” 

For more information on student clubs, please contact the Office of Student Life.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York, and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

Press Contact
Andrea Fagon
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer