Leadership program sails the high seas

Leadership+program+sails+the+high+seas

Ryan Boyle
Journal Staff

On arguably one of the coldest days this fall, eight Suffolk students and two advisors braved the piercing winds and frigid air temperature of the Boston Harbor as part of The Journey program’s leadership in sailing team-building exercise.

The Journey is a four-year leadership program through the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement.  The program has existed at Suffolk for three years, and compliments a classroom curriculum.  The foundation of The Journey program is built upon the principles of leadership training, service, involvement, and career exploration.

Unlike traditional academic classes, The Journey has a strong focus on “hands on” training and learning through experience.   Director of S.L.I., Dave DeAngelis feels students will benefit more from the program through these experiences, “rather than just talking to students” in a classroom environment.

Four students and one advisor were aboard two sailboats with Boston Sailing Center instructors out of Lewis Wharf.  Throughout the three-hour experience, students were taught to properly operate different stations on the boat.  Students rotated from rigging the sails, to steering the vessel – even learning the hard way how to yell to the crew that they were tacking by getting an unexpected bump on the head from the “boom.”

As for freshman Gilberto Del Busto, The Leadership in Sailing program was his first time being aboard a sailboat. “Nacho,” as he is called by his peers, said the most rewarding part of the experience was the satisfaction from, “controlling your emotion, fear and trusting somebody that nothing is going to happen.”

“The instructors really make the program a great experience,” remarked DeAngelis.  Senior Houssam Saeed reinforced that by recalling a point where he had trouble tacking (turning the vessel into the wind to change direction) by saying, “At first I felt like I got it wrong. So [the instructor] wanted to keep me there till I got it right. And then he said, ‘This was your personal best tack.’”

So far, the program has been, “very well received,” according to DeAngelis. As for future Leadership in Sailing events, Journey would like get more students involved and hold the event earlier in the fall to avoid the frigid weather. Next year, with the right amount of people, DeAngelis hopes to hold a miniature Suffolk regatta after the students learn the ropes. As teamwork, communication, and critical thinking skills are gained from their time on the water, DeAngelis hopes the program will “lead students into starting a sailing team, being able to race collegiately with other colleges in the area.”

For the students that braved the freezing temperatures on the water, they will soon be thankful for things to heat up during an event in the pit of an F1 racing team. In the spring, Journey members will participate in a leadership exchange with students from University of South Carolina and Kennesaw State University. They will be working together to address the problem of homelessness in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Students wishing to get involved with The Journey can email [email protected] or stop by SLI in Donahue 430. Photos from the leadership in sailing experience are available at flickr.com/people/ryanpboyle.