May 19, 2020
In December 2018, Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) inaugurated the college’s chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) and inducted 226 high-achieving students into the group.
Since that time, the NSLS chapter at BMCC has continued to grow, and was just recognized as one of six NSLS chapters nationwide to earn the Distinguished Chapter Award, which carries a financial award of $1,300 for each winning chapter.
Also this month, Joseph Torres, who joined the BMCC chapter in 2018, won the NSLS Audible Scholarship of $1,000 — and a new cohort of BMCC students was inducted into the group.
“Even with the pandemic disruption, we successfully supported over 100 BMCC students to qualify for induction this semester, and they took part in a virtual ceremony hosted by the national NSLS office on May 14,” said Denise DellaPorta, BMCC student life specialist for peer mentoring and success, and co-advisor of the NSLS chapter with Kayla Maryles, assistant director of student activities and student involvement at BMCC.
According to the NSLS website, the organization is the nation’s largest leadership honor society. Selected for their academic standing and leadership potential, students complete a step-by-step program to build skills and qualify for a leadership certificate.
NSLS members are eligible for scholarships, exclusive on-campus events, employer recruitment through an online job bank, and discounts on computers, textbooks, graduate school prep courses, insurance and more.
Moving face-to-face support to a virtual format
“So many students have been overwhelmed during this pandemic, feeling like time just stands still, and they are unable to see personal progress,” says DellaPorta. “Kayla and I, as co-advisors, guide students to take this journey toward induction in NSLS each semester — and this semester especially, we wanted to offer extra support and structure to help them reach that goal.”
To that end, DellaPorta and Maryles provided milestone markers and stayed in close touch with students through emails and phone contact.
“The milestones and support might have been the fuel to keep students moving forward, but it is really the students doing all of the work to get themselves there,” DellaPorta says. “We are thrilled to serve as the advisors for a community of BMCC leaders truly building a better world and we couldn’t be more proud of our chapter members for all their hard work this semester.”
Just before BMCC switched to distance learning, DellaPorta accompanied BMCC’s executive members of NSLA to the Mark Leadership Conference sponsored by the Leadership and Experiential Learning program at Rutgers University. “This TED-style conference inspires students to consider the mark they are making on the world, as student leaders,” DellaPorta says.
Maryles describes other steps BMCC’s new members underwent to complete their induction: an orientation, an NSLS Leadership Training Day, three Live-Speaker Broadcasts and three Success Networking Teams.
Before the BMCC campus was closed, those events took place in person.
“When we moved to distance learning, we helped students take part in NSLS live speaker broadcasts and success networking teams online,” Maryles says. “These included speakers such as activist Zachary Wood, Steve Madden and Charlene Li.”
As soon as the students moved to distance learning from home, Maryles created a video tutorial to guide them through their final steps towards induction. “I also reached out through email and phone calls to make sure students were aware of the requirements and able to complete the NSLS induction process,” she says.
Reflecting on leadership during quarantine
When asked how the NSLS speakers or Success Networking Team (SNT) meetings helped him achieve his goals or change his life, a BMCC student wrote, “NSLS has been the most helpful thing for me during quarantine. I have learned a lot about myself throughout this process and I was able to accomplish so many goals these past weeks.”
While taking five classes during lockdown at home, the student worried that combining his studies with NSLS activities would be too daunting.
But as it turns out, “I managed to organize my hectic home environment and even included my brothers in my process by leading them in our SNT meetings,” he says. “This is huge for me because I always thought I didn’t have leadership qualities. I am very excited to finish the semester and I will continue our weekly Saturday meetings as they have been very helpful for me this semester.”
- BMCC chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) is one of six nationwide to receive Distinguished Chapter Award
- Starting with 226 inductees in 2018, chapter welcomed over 100 BMCC students in May 2020
- Induction process started on campus in Spring 2020 and continued with virtual support and guidance from Denise DellaPorta and Kayla Maryles, NSLS chapter co-advisors