NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s Omicron Delta Kappa hosted a kickoff for the Leaders of Tomorrow program with a retreat Saturday in the Baker Pattillo Student Center and Norton HPE Complex on campus, marking the beginning of a yearlong mentorship with Nacogdoches County eighth graders.

The Leaders of Tomorrow program, or LOT Crew, is a long-established collaboration between SFA, the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, the City of Nacogdoches and the nine Nacogdoches County independent school districts to develop an interest in community and leadership in the next generation. For over 20 years, the program has provided immersive, community-based experiences for hundreds of local students.

ODK, an SFA leadership honor society that recognizes student leaders, put on the one-day, in-person kickoff event, which consisted of leadership activities facilitated by ODK student leaders and team building exercises by ODK and SFA’s Campus Recreation. 

“The eighth graders who get a chance to experience our LOT Crew retreat gained so much more than just a fun Saturday with college kids,” said Michael Onuchovsky, Student Engagement Programs coordinator of campus programming. “They grow tremendously in their leadership skills with all of the activities we provide to them. It is such a fun experience seeing their confidence grow and really take in all of the lessons we teach them about what it means to be a leader.”

Following Saturday’s orientation kickoff, the continued mentorship will be facilitated through the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce. The program fosters leadership development through monthly meetings, and students complete the program with a graduation ceremony next May. 

“Our members that participate love seeing how much of an impact they make on the eighth graders,” Onuchovsky said. “They get to reflect on their time as a leader, and seeing that make a difference in the eighth graders is such an awesome feeling. Our members become mentors to these eighth graders, and it’s fun seeing them grow as leaders in the little time we get to help them.”

To learn more about LOT Crew, contact the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce at (936) 560-5533.

Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 36 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more by visiting the SFA website.