Watch the video

Leader Within

Jackie Starr

Jackie Starr ’18

TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language)

Hometown: Malta, New York

Role: Oz Leads Graduate and Class of 1954 Scholarship Recipient

Fueling the flame: Bill Spinelli ’84; Robert Allen ’54, Curtis Matterson ’54 and Stanley Levenson ’54

“The things I have learned and the people I have met through Oz Leads are invaluable, and I can’t emphasize enough how much this program has the potential to change lives. It’s been a wonderful and well-spent year!”

For a dedicated group of 16 SUNY Oswego students, Monday nights came to represent an opportunity to learn from and network with leaders from all walks of life, a chance to build friendships with motivated peers and, oh yeah, a lot of hard work. 

They had spent nearly every Monday evening together since the program, Oz Leads, launched last September.

Culled from an applicant pool of more than 50, these 16 students attended weekly workshops that were designed to help them develop their identity and potential as a leader. They learned from guest speakers and leaders, including such notable figures as Peter Bocko ’75, chief technology officer for Corning Glass Technologies, and Josie Alquist, an international leadership speaker.

Hearing of the program, it ignited a spark within William Spinelli ’84, chair of the Oswego College Foundation Board of Directors and president of Titan Custom Homes in Naples, Fla. His passion is to support Oswego’s students with leadership programming, so providing funding for the non-credit bearing leadership institute was a perfect fit.

The program included an individual leadership assessment of each participant, a forum to discuss leadership styles and skills, participation in a leadership conference, and the opportunities to interact with a range of leaders and to experience a variety of leadership styles. Oz Leads seeks to help students develop leadership skills as a foundation for their life goals—whether as part of an organization, career or personal passion.

A key component of the program was working in smaller groups to develop and implement a project. Five teams created the following projects:

Project Oz—creates a community of student leaders where members challenge each other, share experiences and discuss the universal ideas that surround leadership and host “Ted Talk” like presentations to young people.
5K for Autism—supports Autism Awareness Month by participating in Oswego’s annual OutRun Autism 5K on April 2 through volunteering.
Mental Health Project—promotes mental health awareness on campus, with the goal of ending the negative stigma associated with mental illness and spreading awareness in the campus community.
Hoops for Hope—establishes a program at SUNY Oswego to help Oswego High School students with the funds to enjoy their senior prom by hosting a basketball tournament “faculty vs. students” to raise money.
Unity Across Campus—addresses the concerns about growing segregation and lack of diversity within student organizations, hoping to make the campus community aware of how to create unity across the Oswego campus.

“Participating in this program was one of the best decisions I made this year,” said Morgan Barcus ’17, a business administration major. “I always thought that I knew what it meant to be a leader and that I had the qualities to be a leader. Through Oz Leads, I realized that I might have the qualities to be a leader, but I might not know how best to apply them in different situations. When we did the project, we had to take what we heard and learned and put it into action.”

Through his team’s project, Hoops for Hope, the team full of independent “doers” learned to collaborate and delegate to play up each team member’s strengths.

“Leadership encompasses so many different things,” said Jackie Starr ’18, teaching English as a second language major. “Whoever you are and whatever you do, you can always find yourself in a leadership position that suits your personal skills. The things I have learned and the people I have met through Oz Leads are invaluable, and I can't emphasize enough how much this program has the potential to change lives.”