Student Leadership Academy picture NY Cares Day

The Student Leadership Academy (SLA) at Hostos has made a profound impact on countless people, from its members to those in the community they serve, and beyond. 
The SLA is a volunteer-based organization that offers students the opportunity to participate in College programing, get involved with community and leadership-based activities, attend conferences, and represent Hostos and The City University of New York. SLA participates in at least 52 projects or events annually, and student members lead, conceptualize, and execute many of those activities in four main program areas: the Hostos Student Ambassador program, the Student Orientation Services team, the Emerging Leaders program, and the Hostos Community College Volunteer Corps. Each initiative has its own set of pre-requisites and provides participants with various kinds of leadership experiences. 
Current and past SLA members have participated in the American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event at Orchard Beach and are involved with two programs dedicated to raising Alzheimer’s awareness. They have also volunteered at the Part of the Solution soup kitchen, painted murals throughout the city, planted trees in local parks, and participated in the National Model United Nations in Washington, D.C. 
“They’re making an impact in society,” said Jason Libfeld, the SLA’s long-time coordinator. “They understand the value of it, from the smallest thing they do, whether it’s handing a book to a child or singing to senior citizens in Chinatown.”
Student Maritza Martínez joined the SLA’s Student Orientation Services (SOS) team in 2018 and has since participated in numerous on- and off-campus activities, conferences and workshops. Martínez, a Liberal Arts major, credits her experience with helping her step outside of her comfort zone and gain confidence, all while helping others. “The workshops have helped me grow as an individual and as a leader,” said Martínez, adding her participation in the organization has also aided her in obtaining a scholarship.
The leadership academy’s influence expands beyond the members’ time at Hostos. Several Hostos SLA alumni have gone on to attend Harvard, Columbia, NYU, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon. One alumna became a U.S. diplomat, another is a doctor, a few became pastors, and about a dozen others have return to Hostos to collaborate with current members to give back to communities locally and abroad.
Libfeld noted that while SLA members’ paths to and from the organization vary, many take with them strong leadership skills and a desire to use them to help others. “The one special thing that I always value and that I talk to the students about is that there is leadership in every field that you can go into. Whatever they study or whatever they hope to be a part of, they can be leaders,” he said. “It’s like you’re planting these seeds and they’re growing into a tree and dropping leaves that are growing into new trees and giving back to these communities.”
Learn more about how you can get involved in Hostos’ SLA here.