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First-Year Leadership Summit Cultivates Next Generation of Change-Makers

by Paige Dormann May 14, 2024

Karaoke and professional growth don’t often go hand-in-hand, but when they do—amazing things can happen. At least, that’s what participants of this year’s First-Year Leadership Summit discovered. 

The summit is a weekend-long leadership development program held in Cape May, New Jersey. First-year students engage in a series of presentations and activities prepared by four student leaders as well as the event’s sponsor, the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership. 

“One of the biggest challenges was developing a sense of community,” says Joyce Hanna ’26. “The way we overcame that was by encouraging everyone to step outside of their comfort zones and leading by example, like through having an impromptu karaoke night where all of the students just let their fears go and enjoyed themselves.” 

A health science major in the 3+3 DPT program, Hanna had attended the summit during her first year at DeSales. This time as a student leader, she used what she’d previously learned to foster the same supportive, fun, and collaborative environment that she’d benefitted from. 

Ryan Tuberosa ’27, a sport management major, was nervous going into the program because he didn’t know any of the other participants. By the last night, he had developed a bond with his peers, as well as the drive to make an impact on campus. 

“Not only did I make new friends through FLS, but I was also exposed to great opportunities and leadership skills so I can be successful at DeSales and beyond.” 

 Ryan Tuberosa ’27, sport management major 

Janáe Topor ’27 underestimated the impact that attending the summit would have on her. 

“I was pleasantly surprised to find out what a fun, immersive, and memorable experience it would turn out to be,” says Topor, a communication sciences and disorders major in the 3+2 program, minoring in behavioral neuroscience. “I made 14 new best friends and we all left feeling motivated to get involved and start our leadership journey at DeSales.” 

Participants already have plans to put their newfound skills to use. Tuberosa plans to apply to become a Character U mentor and is looking into beginning a new club, the DeSales Racing Society. This fall, Topor will be a resident advisor, publicity chair on the Special Olympics committee, and hopes to get more involved with campus ministry.

Like Topor, Hanna is an RA and the human resources chair for Special Olympics. She also holds leadership positions with CAB, NSLS, and DeSales Christian Fellowship, in addition to being a Bulldog ambassador, mission ambassador, and volunteering at the DPT Pro Bono Clinic. 

Hanna says, “I wouldn’t have felt ready to be a part of any of these positions had it not been for FLS. It gave me the exact boost that I needed to flourish into the leader that I am today. I am very grateful to have done it.”