The Napier Leadership Experience is a transformational experience for students in the School of Individualized Study. Fifteen to 20 undergraduate students, all recommended by their peers, advisors, and/or faculty as strong candidates for structured coaching and mentoring opportunities, we invited to participate in the day-long retreat. Topics covered including honing students’ leadership skills, understanding leadership styles and best practices, cultivating networks, building professional profiles, and owning your personal brand. The retreat featured guided reflection and interactive presentations by top professionals in advertising, business, and communication. Follow up programming offered throughout the year continued to build on the skills and knowledge students learned during the retreat. In the spring semester, students were matched with RIT and Rochester community leaders for conversations and explorations of key dimensions of telling one’s story.
RIT trustee and alumna Sharon Napier, founder of Partners + Napier, launched the leadership experience in collaboration with SOIS.
The Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship
Created in 2018, The Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship allows students in the School of Individualized Study to take time off of school to focus on personal business ventures while still working toward their degrees. Students in the fellowship receive a $15,000 award to create the time and space needed to build their business, and they have access to mentorship from entrepreneurial experts at RIT.
The Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship was made possible by Austin McChord ‘09 (applied arts and sciences). He is the founder of Datto and a venture partner at General Catalyst. McCord gave $50 million to RIT in 2017 and the Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship was one of many initiatives supported by his gift.
I really hope that students come away from the gap year with a better idea of what’s possible and, really, a stronger belief in themselves about what they can build. I hope every single student feels like they are in much better control of their career and has a better idea of where they want to go and what they want to do. Austin McCord