UMass Boston

First-Year Leadership Institute

About the First-Year Leadership Institute

The First-Year Leadership Institute (FLI) is an innovative leadership program offered during the fall semester exclusively to first-time, first-year students and new transfer students at UMass Boston. We believe everyone can be a leader, so whether you already think of yourself as a leader or want to increase your leadership skills, the First-Year Leadership Institute is for you. We believe in creating an environment where everyone, especially those from diverse backgrounds can thrive. We encourage students with cultural wealth and diverse lived experiences to become the next generation of socially-just leaders. 

“FLI helped me get out of my shell. I never really bought into the whole leadership role before FLI, since I always thought of great people standing at podiums when I thought of a leader. I was a shy little kid entering his first year of college, but I soon learned that a leader is not just that person giving a speech at the podium. It is someone who's willing to lead themselves through their own life, and as a result, lead others. So instead of trying to be that person at the podium, I tried to be the leader of my life and ended up enjoying my first year greatly because of it." - Neil Joseph Arquillano, FLI Peer Mentor 2019

The program has three major components:

  • Leadership Retreat & Weekly Workshops – The leadership curriculum is based on the book The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner who promote leadership as a practice involving five areas of leadership: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enables Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. The program will help students learn these concepts as well as develop their identity as a student at UMass Boston. The exploration of leadership begins with a retreat on the third weekend of September. Afterward, participants will attend weekly workshops and events; time TBD.
  • Mentoring – Each student will be paired with a Peer Mentor who will provide coaching, support, connection to resources, and serve as an “involvement advisor” to help students integrate into campus life. Mentors will meet with participants one-on-one and in small groups. 
  • Community-Based Project – Students will participate in a community outreach day with other first-year students and mentors to reinforce the importance of civic engagement and community. The Fall Day of Action is usually the last weekend of September. In addition to the Day of Action, participants will work on a group project that focuses on advancing social justice.

“FLI motivated me to become the leader that I am today. The connections and the experiences that I've had in FLI have taught me a lot in terms of leadership and giving back to the community.” -Sara Tariq, Student Trustee 2018 - 2019

To learn more about the First-Year Leadership Institute, watch this short video by clicking here. 


Fall 2024 Important Dates 

  • September 13: First deadline for new first-year & transfer students to apply online
  • FLI Student Orientation, date and place TBD
  • September 20-22: FLI Student Retreat, Expenses Paid
  • End of September - End of November: Weekly Leadership Workshops 
  • September 28: Fall Day of Action, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. 
  • FLI Graduation, Date and location TBD (family & friends welcome to attend)

For questions or more information, email .


How to Apply

Interested students should submit an online application through the involvement portal, UMBeInvolved. Applicants selected for the program will receive an email invitation to join, sent to the email listed on their application and will be asked to reply to accept their spot in the program. Space is limited.

Applications are due by September 13, 2024. 

For questions about the application, email


Peer Mentors

Peer Mentors play a vital role in the First-Year Leadership Institute. NOTE: This is an unpaid position, but you may have the opportunity to gain a certification through the program. You may also have the opportunity to take a 3-credit course to enhance your leadership abilities. Peer Mentors have the following responsibilities:

  • Lead and mentor a group of 4-6 incoming students
  • Facilitate leadership sessions during the fall semester
  • Participate in a community-based project with your group of mentees
  • Coordinate 1 – on – 1 mentoring sessions with your mentees
  • Attend the summer training retreat
  • Attend weekly meetings with all peer mentors
  • Coordinate involvement opportunities for your mentees

To apply you must:

  • You must be a matriculated (degree-seeking) undergraduate student
  • Applications are due TBD
  • Participate in an interview with the program assistants 

For more information on peer mentors, email

First-Year Leadership Institute
Campus Center, 2nd Floor, Suite 2300