Saluting the 40 Under Forty

Every year in September, the Worcester Business Journal hosts a celebration of the 40 top professionals in the Worcester area who have made significant achievements before the age of 40. And, more often than not, Nichols graduates are among those chosen by the WBJ for their accomplishments.

9 24 2015 40 Under 40 photoThis year, the ceremony took place on the evening of September 16th at Worcester’s Mechanics Hall. The Nichols alumni honorees included Kristopher Cullen ’08, Errica Devarenne ’99, and Michael Lyons ’99.

Kris has risen to the position of 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.

These three are not alone. Since Nichols sponsors the 40 under Forty event, I offered some remarks, which focused on both the career and personal accomplishments of all the honorees. From my position in academia, of course, I also noticed their degree profiles. What an impressive list—32 bachelor’s degrees, 11 master’s, five JD’s, and one MD.

I admired the extensive community involvement of this year’s group, from being a Big Brother since 1999 to working with a therapy dog who responds to Swahili.

The 40 Under Forty program also shows the vibrancy of Worcester and its surroundings. In fact, a large number of Nichols graduates remain local, pursuing careers, living in the area, and making contributions on a variety of fronts. And initiatives such as the 40 Under Forty reveal a strong future with members who are so successful and so young.

Moving In and Up

Every year, I make it a priority to join the hustle and bustle of Move In Day, when the incoming freshmen students arrive on campus. I watched as upbeat families moved furniture and unpacked boxes. They were not alone as a squad of Nichols upperclassmen converged to help them.

9-14-15-Moving-In-fixedThese Nichols “movers and shakers” swarmed cars as they pulled in. Many parents seemed almost shell shocked as they walked behind the carts and volunteers with nothing in their arms because it had all been taken care of. In addition to the student athletes, many faculty and staff were part of the day. The remarkable sense of community spirit and pride shined as bright as the sun on this Move In Friday.

9 14 15 Moving In AI met mothers, fathers, grandparents, much younger siblings, and hometown friends. One father told me how his daughter had been torn between two schools and how he kept hoping her final choice would be Nichols because it seemed to him that we were much more student oriented. I met one first-year student whose sister is a junior here, so the legacy tradition continues.

My message to all of these incoming freshmen: Make each second count here at Nichols—in the classroom and beyond. Challenge yourself. Study hard. Make friends. Get involved.


Building a Valuable Bridge

9 11 15 BBQThe dinner I hosted with 22 students and a group of dedicated Nichols staff on Thursday evening, August 27, was more than the average cookout. It was the culminating event of this year’s Bison Bridge Program, which provides a head start for students particularly concerned about making the all-important transition from high school to college.

9 11 15 BBQ GroupThe five-day gathering introduced the incoming freshmen to important campus resources available for their success, from the Center for Student Involvement and the office of Residence Life to the Academic Resource Center and our signature Professional Development Seminars. Along the way, the new Nichols students learned about note taking, goal setting, and time management. The students also attended classroom segments to give them exposure to the faculty who will teach them in their first year, and a preview of the academic side of their life at Nichols.

Students from last year’s Bison Bridge program were on hand, and I noted how they had all become especially involved in campus life during their freshman year.

It wasn’t all work and no play for these students. Among their diversions were a PawSox baseball game, an ice cream social, and a pick up soccer game. During the celebratory cookout at my house, the Bison Bridge graduates each received a gift certificate for the Nichols bookstore.

They has already received a lot more in the previous week that will help all of them thrive in this next chapter of their academic lives.