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Bulldog News

New SC State organizations for 1st-year students celebrate completion of inaugural leadership training

Author: Sam Watson, Director of University Relations|Published: April 03, 2024|All News, Student News

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ORANGEBURG, S.C. – Being a first-year college student requires finding your footing, so two new organizations have been formed at South Carolina State University to help students step up to lead.

Flourish (for women) and Molding Men are new initiatives of the SC State First-Year Experience providing five-week leadership and life skills training institutes for first-year students. Dr. Lisa Sparks, First-Year Experience executive director, said the groups recently celebrated the completion of the inaugural institutes with induction ceremonies.

Both are advised by SC State academic success coaches – Amber Nelson for Flourish and Jeremiah McFadden for Molding Men. The groups were envisioned in 2022 and brought to fruition for the current Spring Semester with 45 women and 12 men joining their respective groups.

“I'm honored that we created a safe space for the students to not only bond with their colleagues but to also tailor their leadership skills along with other life skills that will carry them for years,” Nelson said. “The response from not only the students, but family and friends have been overwhelming, yet it’s an honor to offer the opportunity to them within their first year in college.

“I'm grateful that Dr. Sparks supported the vision and provided us with the chance to birth this within her department,” she said.

McFadden said it was an honor to serve as the advisor for Molding Men.

“My goal is to inspire young men to achieve and excel personally and academically; to challenge themselves and to uphold a standard of excellence,” McFadden said. “I want young men to recognize and acknowledge how they affect and impact the world around them and with that knowledge embrace the responsibility of holding those around them accountable to do the same.

“I aspire to be the mold that these young men can see a piece of themselves in so that they might inspire the generations looking to them,” he said.

First-year students said an organization solely for them gave them the opportunity to discuss their experiences, ask questions and learn from leaders of the organizations.

Naomi Russell stated she gained insight on the really small things that make a difference. For example, wearing the proper attire and color when applying and interviewing to other organizations and jobs, making eye contact with the speaker and tips to remember names and important facts about businesses.

Ahlaysha Owens, who was named Miss Flourish, delivered a compelling and well-articulated message to the first-year students.

“Within our organization, leadership is not just about holding titles or positions; it is about embodying the values of integrity, empathy, and resilience,” Owens said.

Dontreal Williams, who serves as Mr. Molding Men, gave encouraging words to academically strive for excellence.

“Your education is a journey, and every step you take, no matter how small, brings you closer to your goals,” Williams said.

First-year students have to opportunity to join Flourish and Molding Men their spring semester. Students must have a 2.5 GPA, complete an information sheet and a letter of interest. For more information, contact Dr. Lisa Sparks at

Click here for more information about the First-Year Experience.