The future of millennials—those who were born after 1980—has been a busy topic this summer. Two conferences hosted by Nichols looked closely at how this group of students and young adults can contribute to the 21st century work world and to our larger community.
On July 15th, I served as the moderator of the 40 Under Forty Breakfast held in Worcester and sponsored by the Worcester Business Journal, which annually recognizes 40 of the city’s movers and shakers in their 30’s or even in their 20’s. I was joined onstage by former Nichols Trustee Mary DeFeudis, whose philanthropy has long made an impact on the Greater Worcester area, and by Jill Dagillis, the executive director of the Worcester Community Action Council.
The conversation before an audience containing this years honorees ranged from ideas on getting involved and making a difference in the local community; to the value of mentoring; to the role of leadership. The emphasis on leadership certainly rang true for me in light of the freshman LEAD 101 course, emerging leaders program, and women’s leadership initiatives that Nichols has launched over the past two years.
Both Mary and Jill talked about how they align their volunteer and philanthropic activities with their skills and passions. Mary continued her tradition of giving with a purpose by proposing a challenge grant to the 40 Under Forty achievers present. For every dollar they donate by September 1st to a non-profit organization of their choosing, she will match each gift up to $5,000. Mary said she hopes to write a big check in September, when the formal announcement and celebration of this year’s 40 Under Forty recipients takes place.
As in past years, several Nichols graduates were among this distinguished group, including Kristopher Cullen ’08, Errica Devarenne ’99, and Michael Lyons ’99. These Nichols alumni have made a significant contribution to the Worcester community on a variety of fronts—and made their alma mater proud in the process.
Kristopher has risen to assistant vice president and marketing manager at Southbridge-based Savers Bank. Errica serves as the director of Accounting/Human Resources at Elevation Exhibits, LLC and Dance Visions, LLC, in Shrewsbury, MA. Michael is site coordinator for the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program in the Worcester Public Schools.
In July, the millennial generation also took center stage at Nichols as part of the Fairman Cowan Collegiate Lecture Series celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau. One eye-opener for some folks was a graph showing that millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce.
With a focus on workforce readiness, the presentation underscored the collaborative nature of millennials. It was heartening to know that the Nichols curriculum is designed to promote and develop leadership and teamwork and is giving this generation the head start it needs.