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Members of the Student Activities Council, including its president Alex Lopez ’16 (front), pose with performer Kehlani (center). Below, Timothy P. Williams ’17 with Kelsey McGonigle ’16 at this year’s Leadership Awards Banquet, and Allie Kadell ’16 speaks to a group on campus.

Opportunities to Lead Provide Pivotal Experiences

06/06/16

When MCLA students get involved, their work creates the “story” of their college career, said Celia Norcross, director of student development. “The activities they belong to, the co-curricular experiences, the deep engagement opportunities – all help them to gain life skills.”

The chance to be one of MCLA’s student leaders meant much more than leadership experience for Kelsey McGonigle ’16 of Center Moriches, N.Y., who just wrapped up her senior year as the senior class president. She so enjoyed her activities with the Student Government Association (SGA) and LEAD Academy that she decided to change her career path from business to student affairs.

“I realized that I wanted to help students become acclimated to college,” explained McGonigle, who this year was named an “Outstanding Senior Leader” at MCLA’s Leadership Awards Banquet. “Being an international business major was helpful because I learned how to market, manage and speak publicly in the classroom. I then was able to practice it all within my leadership positions.”

As the senior class president, “I learned how to plan and execute events, how to work with other student leaders to resolve issues, and to help myself and others to grow and excel at MCLA,” McGonigle said. “I have a passion for helping students find their dreams, and for providing them with the resources they need to do that.”

The winner of the Student Development Award and the Student Leadership Achievement Award as the “Outstanding Senior Leader,” Alexander Lopez ’16 of Waterbury, Conn., learned to support and encourage those he worked with, and to rely on them to get things done.

“The Student Activities Council (SAC) showed me what kind of leader I am, and at the same time, the kind of leader the club needed,” said Lopez, who served as its president for two years. “Being a part of the Student Activities Council taught me that there are times when I need to be serious, and times when I can be goofy.”

Since her freshman year, Allie Kadell ’16 of Franklin Square, N.Y., was involved with the Student Government Association (SGA). She ultimately served as its president during her senior year.

“Having this leadership experience allowed me to grow astronomically throughout my four years,” said Kadell, who recently was honored with the Vice President’s Award for her outstanding dedication and service. “With each position, there were things that posed challenges, but being SGA president was the biggest challenge I faced.”

Although the weight of the position – as a team leader, decision maker and the students’ spokesperson – weighed heavily on Kadell, she found the rewards were great. “The challenges I faced advanced my leadership abilities to a new professional level and prepared me for my future career in student affairs,” she said.

The next SGA president, Timothy P. Williams ’17 of Coxsackie, N.Y., will step into Kadell’s shoes this fall.

“I've been extremely fortunate with the connections I’ve made and the leadership opportunities that I've had here at MCLA,” said Williams, the Club Executive Board Member of the Year. “I'm really excited to work with the students and other leaders on campus so that we can grow and make a difference.”

In addition to his work with the SGA, Williams has been involved with the campus radio station since his freshman year, starting as a host and moving on to assume the role as treasurer in his sophomore year, and then becoming the station’s manager.

“As station manager, we more than doubled the programming on our air, expanded our online presence, and put on our first concert where we had 100-plus people show up,” Williams said.

As the SGA president, he will continue at the radio station as a host, as well as a resource for its new generation of leaders. “With the radio station, I've had a possible career path that I had never would've thought was possible,” Williams said.

“The opportunities for leadership are endless because, here, you create your own opportunities,” Norcross said. “That’s only enhanced by the community that’s around us. Students get to pick things that they’re interested in and figure out how they can make and create that opportunity here on campus with our support, and the support of other students on campus.

“It’s simple to find something and get involved. Just ask.”