During April and May, I attended three different regional Bicentennial Celebrations which provided a chance for former classmates to reconnect and meet new friends. These events offer an opportunity for us to share what’s happening at the College – our building projects, new strategic initiatives and upcoming events. I’ve been impressed by the high attendance and the range of graduation years represented.
On April 16, 53 alumni attended the event at the Water Club in New York City. More than 75 people attended the event on May 7 at the Worcester Art Museum. On May 14, about 75 alumni and guests met at the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. This event was unique for two reasons: class years for the alumni who attended ranged from 1963 to 2013— spanning five decades! Also, alumnus E.J. Landry ’86 was given the Alumni Achievement Award as a surprise from the Nichols College Alumni Association Board of Directors. (Vice President of the Board, Dave Belanger ’89 presented him with the plaque.)
Whenever possible at these events, we showed the bicentennial video which created a sense of nostalgia and reminded folks about the rich history of Nichols College. When I talked with alumni about their experiences at Nichols, many expressed their fondness for the College and what a difference it has made in their lives. Alumni who have not been back to campus for some time remark about how beautiful it is and about the number of new buildings since they attended Nichols. I look forward to meeting even more alumni at future events and at Homecoming in September!
This year’s graduation was especially poignant for me because I started with the class of 2015 when I came to Nichols. Also, this is our bicentennial class which will hold a very special page in the history of Nichols College.
When I spoke at graduation, I shared what a privilege it was for the faculty, staff and administration to have had the opportunity to mentor them, to challenge them, and to help them succeed. “We know you leave us at your best…for now. But, the best is yet to come for you.”
Legal Sea Foods owner Roger Berkowitz was our commencement speaker and he shared three pieces of advice with our graduates – 1) your education is not over with your graduation; 2) if you’re in a management position always take time to ask questions of your hourly associates – those closest to your customers; and 3) know that your future survival and success will rely on your ability to acknowledge and harness disruptive forces and opportunities surrounding you.
Our student speakers offered some valuable advice as well. I especially like the Dr. Seuss quote that valedictorian Samantha MacMillan shared, “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” She continued by sharing, “None of us are the same people that we walked in here as. And I truly believe I speak for my class when I say that part of the Nichols experience is discovering our strengths and walking away as more confident individuals.” Andrew Haas, President of the Class of 2015, reminded the graduates that they arrived on campus during the same time as Hurricane Irene. Fortunately, this did not affect the students’ experience for long. As Andrew stated, “the students’ time on campus went by quickly with four years full of moments and friendships that will extend even further in time.”
Nelson Henderson said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Now go plant some trees – and return on occasion to sit under the trees planted for you on the Hill. Remember, no matter how far you roam, our Bison will always be welcomed home on the Hill.
Congratulations Class of 2015!
On April 19, Nichols College’s Emerging Leaders Program officially kicked off. This program is an incredible opportunity for our students that offers a speakers series, internships, and community service opportunities throughout their four years.
During the event, the students were engaged in several activities including a mini networking type activity called “speed acquainting” and a group project where they designed a t-shirt for the Emerging Leaders Program. It was interesting to see the variety of innovative ideas that emerged from that exercise and amazing to watch the teams present their designs and the rationale for creating them. The level of poise, ability to articulate their thoughts, and the apparent sense of teamwork within each group was remarkable. In fact, the judges had such a difficult time selecting a winner that the competition actually ended in a tie!
Applying for this program requires dedication and commitment and I commended the students for taking advantage of this opportunity to further develop their leadership skills. After all, leadership is one of the top skills employers seek in new hires. A recent Bloomberg survey of recruiters determined that leadership is one of the most desired but least common skills: http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-job-skills-report/. Fortunately, our students begin to develop these skills from the first day they arrive on campus.