Personal Empowerment Institute

Mission Statement

The Personal Empowerment Institute provides classroom, peer to peer, and leadership opportunities to facilitate students and participants applying emotional intelligence skills to all aspects of their Colleges' and personal experience. The Personal Empowerment Institute provides programs that decrease participants’ anxiety, stress, and depression while increasing environmental mastery and ability to cope with stress, all key factors in developing resiliency and emotional intelligence, skills scholars argue are critical to success in higher education.

What is it?

An initiative by Student Affairs and Residential Education, the HWS Personal Empowerment Institute consists of multiple programs, courses, and workshops for both the HWS community and the Geneva community.

  • Personal, Peer, and Community Empowerment courses: A series of three Reader’s College courses designed to introduce students to applying emotional intelligence in their own life, establishing and enhancing skills to empower others, and designing an opportunity to empower and support a local community of their choice.
  • Geneva 2020 Initiative: With the Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement and the Geneva 2020 initiative, Personal Empowerment Facilitators instruct hands-on workshops with West Street second graders on emotional awareness and regulating emotions.
  • Summer Academy: As a part of the Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement and the Geneva 2020 summer academy initiative, Personal Empowerment Facilitators work with high schoolers to understand their emotions, identify opportunities for growth, and develop their socio-emotional intelligence skills.
  • Academic Opportunity Program’s Summer Institute: As part of the Colleges' HEOP and HWS AOP program, students attend a multi-week summer transition program. As part of that program, students take two entry-level Personal Empowerment workshops focused on introducing core concepts of emotional intelligence and preparing for their transition to the Colleges.

How does it work?

Once students complete the Personal Empowerment Reader’s College course, they are able to complete the rest of the requirements (Peer Empowerment and Community Empowerment).

Who is eligible?

All HWS students are eligible to take the Personal Empowerment Reader’s College course. The second and third courses are via invitation only for students who have completed the Personal Empowerment course. Applications are distributed during the class but are also available in Residential Education. At least two sections of Personal Empowerment are offered every semester.

What are the student outcomes?

Students in the Personal Empowerment course participate in two assessments (pre/post course) designed to evaluate the impact of the course. Over the course of a semester, students’ personal well-being (personal growth, self-acceptance, and autonomy on the RYFF scales) and environmental interactions (positive relationships, purpose in life, and environmental mastery on the RYFF scales) increase. Also, social anxiety, academic distress, and generalized anxiety decrease significantly (based on the CCAPS).

How do students apply for Peer Empowerment or Community Empowerment?

For the first step, students should simply register and take the Personal Empowerment course. During week 6 of the course, instructors will share information about Peer Empowerment including the registration steps. During Peer Empowerment, students will be presented the opportunity to take Community Empowerment.

More Info

Search for the following courses in the registration booklet:
Personal Empowerment: RCOL 109
Peer Empowerment: RCOL 129
Community Empowerment: RCOL 139


Shelle Basilio-Murray
Associate Dean of Students

Student Engagement Center
Scandling Center 2nd floor

Phone: 315-781-3900

Trained Facilitators

Personal Empowerment facilitators complete an 8 month training on applied emotional intelligence, educational methods, and student development theory, and receive a national certification.

B.B. Barile
Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students

Kristen Tobey
Director, Student Engagement Activities

Lisa Salter
Assistant Dean, William Smith College

Renee Grant
Director of HEOP

Hannah Smith
Assistant Director, Student Engagement

Jenna Konyak
Director, Student Engagement Operations


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.