Basking in the Warmth of Nichols Alumni

Baseball teams head to Florida in February and March for spring training in the warm sunshine. So do I for my annual visit with our growing numbers of Nichols alumni, with whom I find an even greater warmth.

There is always one large event in Naples, and this year we had over 70 attendees. I remember my first Naples event nine years ago where we had less than 20 folks. It has been really fun seeing the participation and enthusiasm grow every year for this get together.

There are always new faces. One this year was from the Class of 1972, and it was his first time at a Florida gathering. While most attendees from earlier Naples events came from classes of the 1960s and 70s, the turnout now spans a wider range. This year we also had about a dozen people from the 1980s, a few from the 1990s, and a recent graduate from the class of 2019. Folks traveled from Miami, the Tampa area, and even South Carolina!

On my Sunshine State sojourns, I also spend several days visiting with individuals. My travels this time took to me Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Ft. Lauderdale, and Punta Gorda. Luckily I subscribe to Audible, so I was able to take down a lengthy audio book during my trek along the east coast of Florida and back up the Gulf Coast.

I certainly don’t adhere to any diet during this trip. One day I had breakfast, lunch, and dinner out with alums! One of my regular stops includes homemade key lime pie that is the most amazing thing you’ve ever tasted.

I’ve been fortunate to get to know so many amazing alumni and friends of the College. Sometimes we reminisce about their losses of family and classmates that occurred over the last year. Mostly, we marvel at their longstanding connection to Nichols and what their college days have meant to them through the years.

A Winning Streak To Be Proud Of

Winning never gets old, especially when it represents the heart and soul of our mission at Nichols. For five straight years (and six of the last seven), the Worcester Business Journal has rated us as the Best College for Business Education in central Massachusetts.

This year’s award, part of the Worcester Business Journal’s (WBJ) annual Best of Business competition, is the latest finishing touch to the innovative ways we provide our students with state-of-the-art business courses; new majors and graduate degrees; professional development seminars; and a world view of the ever-evolving business universe.

That description may sound a bit like an advertisement but winning this recognition by the votes of WBJ’s readers indeed speaks to the strong brand image for business programs that Nichols has in the region.

Anytime the College is recognized, it helps promote what we do so well. Given that there are almost a dozen colleges and universities in the Worcester area, it’s nice to be recognized as the “best.”

A Super Experience

Sure, the game was entertaining, and the score was close. And the half time show drew a huge viewership. But for those of us at Nichols, what put the “Super” in this year’s Super Bowl was the participation of 16 of our students in the activities surrounding football’s biggest game.

The group travelled to Florida, along with Priscila Alfaro-Barrantes, assistant professor of sport management, and Luanne Westerling, associate dean for business, where they hit the ground running.

These volunteers joined peers from a select set of 25 other colleges and universities—among whom Nichols represented one of the largest contingents. Their tasks ranged from staffing the Super Bowl Experience—a set of “theme park” activities and events leading up to the big game—to working with the NFL on Super Bowl Sunday.

This group of students, mostly Sport Management majors, were members of The Super Bowl Operations Experience Practicum at Nichols. That class focused on providing a high profile, real life experience in the world of sports to students, helping set the stage for their futures in the field. From my perspective, it was a practicum on steroids.

Afterwards, I received an email from a mother of one participant that said, “This experience was not only a dream come true for my son but has helped him in his professional and personal growth. It was truly something that he will never forget.”

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be part of the magic of the Super Bowl—even if the Patriots aren’t playing in it?

I would imagine there are many, many folks who have the Super Bowl on their bucket list. This group of students got to cross it off before their 21st birthdays!