Service Leadership Seminar teaches students to be community leaders

A group of Florida State University incoming freshmen got a lesson in being leaders as they served their new community during Service Leadership Seminar (SLS), a weeklong event coordinated through the Center for Leadership and Social Change at FSU.

SLS is an opportunity for freshmen to learn about community service, identity and leadership through participation in projects, workshops, team-building activities and interactions with current campus leaders.

This year’s seminar kicked off at the FSU Lakefront Park, a 73-acre facility located on Lake Bradford. The group of about 25 students completed a low-challenge course that involves balancing, jumping or climbing on special structures. These exercises serve as the foundation for building effective teamwork, something the participants would need for the rest of the week.

Izzy Hernandez, a senior majoring in commercial entrepreneurship, participated in SLS as a freshman and has returned as a facilitator every year to “learn more and give back.”

“I learned a lot of mind-blowing things that I never thought about before, like intersectionality, different parts of my identity, understanding community service and actively participating,” Hernandez said. “Every year facilitating, I feel like I learn more, and I want to be able to give that back and teach people what I’ve learned. It’s also fun.”

The second and third days of the weeklong event consisted of various small groups and workshops, all aimed toward students gaining a better understanding of their identity, other people’s identities, leadership and how they all intertwine.

Students also volunteered at Second Harvest of the Big Bend, the region’s primary source for charitable food, and at the Omega Lamplighters Youth Center, a youth leadership organization for young men in grades 4-12.

Another highlight of the week included a morning of learning and service at the Seminole Organic Garden, a shared garden space on-campus.

Students completed their SLS journey on Friday with presentations about what they learned and what their top goal is for their time at FSU. Freshman Pacey Cheesebrough said his SLS experience has positively changed his mindset and personal goals.

“The first words that come to mind are ‘grateful’ and ‘privileged,’” he said. “It’s been an honor to be around both likeminded people and at the same time people with different mindsets and cultural backgrounds. It’s been a great exposure to new ideas for me.”

To learn more about SLS and The Center for Leadership and Social Change, visit