Learning to Take the Lead

December 14, 2016

In November, NYIT student leaders headed to California for the Circle of Change Leadership Conference. Alexandra Hermanowski (vice president of judicial affairs of the Old Westbury Student Government Association and president of the Health Professions Club), Mellisa Mahadeo (president of Old Westbury Student Government Association), and Ansel Shibu (executive vice president of the Old Westbury Student Government Association) reported on their experience for The Box. Read their story below:

For three days, 19 NYIT student leaders from the Old Westbury and Manhattan campuses attended the Circle of Change Leadership Conference in Dominguez Hills, Calif., to learn about what it takes to be a good leader and how to be a good follower, and to work on personal and professional development. The Student Government Association from both the Old Westbury and Manhattan campuses organized the trip. The conference featured keynote speakers, engaging executive panels, and inspiring group discussions. Also on the agenda was CareerFest, which allowed the student attendees to work on their professional development through résumé and LinkedIn workshops, as well as the opportunity to practice job interviews.

NYIT students at the Circle of Change Leadership Conference

NYIT students at the Circle of Change Leadership Conference in Dominguez Hills, Calif.

After the keynote addresses, attendees had the opportunity to participate in smaller break-out sessions in areas that they felt they needed to improve upon, like “Creating Your Professional Leadership Brand!” or other sessions that delved into topics the students had an interest in. For example, “How to Develop a Successful Path Towards Career Leadership Success” featured a panel of women leaders who work in areas such as higher education, health, business, and entrepreneurship. The women discussed their successes and how they navigated failures. Their advice included to: 

  • Identify mentors early on.
  • Never let an opportunity go to waste, even if it is not immediately relevant to your cause or mission.
  • Never let anyone define you because if they define you, then they control you.
  • In order to go up, sometimes you have to give up.

They also noted that students will often dwell on their struggles and spend too much time worrying about them. One should know when to ask for help and when to follow instead of lead, they said.

The group came away with valuable advice that they will share with their fellow NYIT students through meetings, collaborations, and student leadership retreats hosted by Student Involvement and Leadership Development. The experience also helped build a stronger bond between the Old Westbury and Manhattan campuses. The student leaders were able to discuss with each other how the conference made them grow and feel more empowered, and they are looking forward to working together on upcoming events using the skills they learned.