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March 2012 Archives

Above: Helen Drinan, President of Simmons College.

I was so honored and excited to have been invited to our college President Helen Drinan's home for dinner this past Monday, March 27, 2012. Myself, along with 15 other students, and Dean Sarah Neill, boarded shuttles at 5:00 p.m. and were on our way! Helen Drinan and her husband warmly welcomed us into their beautiful home in the South Boston. While enjoying a delicious dinner, we all discussed our majors, extracurricular activities, likes, and suggestions for improvement at Simmons with President Drinan. The evening was a wonderful opportunity for President Drinan and students to get to know each other better. We are so lucky to have such a friendly, caring, and dedicated college President! It was an evening I will always cherish!

I had an amazing spring break! Simmons' Scott/Ross center once again set up a great program to spend spring break volunteering around Boston. The name of the program was Boston Immersion, and I got to work with students of the Colleges Of the Fenway, including Emmanuel College and Wheelock College. We were a group of ten this year, and slept over at Emmanuel.

During the day we were volunteering and getting to know the area better and at night, we would lead reflections about our experience. The theme this year was Children in Poverty. We worked with non profit organizations like Nazareth House, the Tobin Community Center, Jumpstart, and Cradles to Crayons! The experience was really eye-opening.

Continue reading Alternative Spring Break: Boston Immersion.

Above: the beautiful display!

faces_tania.jpg Today, Friday March 16, 2012, was the Spring Induction Ceremony for Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta), the National Biological Honor Society! The ceremony was held in the Management Building and in attendance were Simmons students, Simmons faculty, current Tri-Beta members, the Tri-Beta Executive Board, new inductees, family, and friends. Though the weather today was cloudy and wet, it did not dampen the mood nor the excitement surrounding this joyous occasion which I had the honor to participate in as a Spring 2012 inductee! Opening remarks were made by Dr. Renee White, Dean of CAS, and the guest speaker was Dr. Suchithra Menon, Ph.D. After their inspiring talks, the induction ritual took place which was led by the Tri-Beta officers; graduating seniors were honored as well.

photo_tania.jpg A little bit about Beta Beta Beta:
"Beta Beta Beta Biological Honor Society is a society for students, particularly for undergraduates. It seeks to encourage scholarly attainment in this field of learning by reserving its regular membership for those who achieve superior academic records and who indicate special aptitude for and major interest in life sciences. It desires to cultivate intellectual interest in the natural sciences and to promote a better appreciation of the value of biological study and thus welcomes into associate membership all those students who are interested in biology.

Beta Beta Beta also endeavors to extend knowledge of nature by encouraging new discoveries through scientific investigation and to this end encourages undergraduate students to get involved in research work and report their findings in the journal of the society Bios. It emphasizes a three-fold program; stimulation of scholarship, dissemination of scientific knowledge and promotion of biological research."
(from brochure handed out at ceremony)

I am excited and honored to be an active member of this academic and intellectual society!

Through the Scott/Ross Center, I am the Student Director of Gateway, which is currently a tutoring and mentoring program for a selected group at the John D. O'Bryant School. Gateway is a pilot program founded in New York that offers college access workshops and academic assistance. Incoming high school freshmen apply for this program and out a pool of applicants, fifty students are chosen. The partnership between Simmons College and the John D. O'Bryant allows me to be the person who recruits the tutors and mentors for our program.

Last year, Gateway was more focused on the tutoring aspect of the program and we sort of let the mentoring part of it just happen. Because I had origninally wanted to create a new mentoring program, Dr. Steve London, the Supervisor of the Scott/Ross Center and also a Professor of Sociology, thought, why not do it through Gateway? About this time last year, the Gateway Team and I decided to meet weekly to come up with a proposal for a mentoring program. Through numerous revisions and multiple meetings, my team and I was able to get our proposal approved by the site supervisor of Gateway at the O'Bryant! The Gateway facilitator, Danielle Ehrnstein, and I worked together to complete a grant by the Simmons Centennial Grant funded by the Simmons Board of Trustees. We successfully received funding for our mentoring program!

Mentoring means a great deal to me. I can honestly say that without my mentors in my life, I wouldn't be able to achieve all that I have today. I had a great mentor throughout my high school years, who is still one of my great mentors, Mr. Richard Vaughn, that guided me towards my goals and helped encourage me when I needed it the most. Mr. Vaughn introduced me to new opportunities, and he challenged me to take a risk with what I wanted to do. He was my inspiration in creating a mentoring program like Gateway Mentoring.

I know what it is like to feel lost and want to succeed and if I can ever have an impact in another student and be even a small percentage of what Mr. Vaughn was to me to another student, then this program would definitely have been successful and worth all the hard work! Maybe someday, they too can help another person and guide them to their goals. :)

Mentees Visit Simmons!
This week my mentees were on their winter break and they decided to shadow me in my classes and activities! I am very excited for them to see what college life is like. I feel like it gives them something to look forward to and work towards. I asked my mentees to prepare a reflection on their experience at Simmons and one of my mentees, Jennyde, agreed to let me share her experience on my blog!

Jennyde Dessius
February 23rd, 2012
Shadowing at Simmons College

I personally think that the gateway Mentor and tutoring program is a great opportunity for young students like me to get ahead and stay ahead. On Wednesday, I had a chance to shadow a fellow student at Simmons College. To get a feel on the college life was an excellent experience for me. I'm glad I took advantage of that day and asked questions that seemed to be bothering me about the whole college process as well as what I can do as a sophomore in high school to begin to prepare myself for the near future.

Who knew I would ever step foot in a few college classes as a high school student. I got to sit and observe students as they reviewed for an exam. Their note-taking, study habits and different ways of preparation was impressive. The ambition that each student had was clearly visible and truly skillful. One class that I really liked was Student Government Association. What I liked most about it was that I was able to hear the concerns from the students, their thoughts and what seemed to bother them as well as ideas and new ways to maybe improve their stay and education at Simmons. What really caught my attention was their "Hot topic". They spoke about stress and different ways to solve the issue. I really enjoyed that because it was all so real. I kind of understood what the students were saying and was able to relate.

Would I do this again? No doubt about it. In fact, I think that every student should be able to participate in some kind of experience like this one where they can familiarize themselves with their future, so when the time comes, they will not only be ready but they would already be given the knowledge and guidance of refinement.


Over the past week, during my Spring Break, I had the privilege to travel to Waynesburg, PA to build a home for a family in need alongside Habitat for Humanity. My friend and I led 12 other women on a successful week of putting up siding, building air vents, putting up wiring, and drilling electrical boxes in, just to name a few things. I don't think anyone knew how emotional this trip would be, though.

On the second to last day of work, the new owner of the home we were building, Cheryl, showed up to the site. She was in her late 60's, and had just broken her knee in the snow a few weeks earlier. Tears immediately flooded to my eyes as she struggled to walk on the gravel to bring us lunch. Talking to her during lunch made everyone smile, and made us have a greater connection for what we were actually doing for Habitat.

This family had been living in a trailer with seven people, and only two rooms. The following day, the Alternative Spring Break (ASB) team was able to meet the son and daughter that were also receiving this home, Carol and Bobby. I have never seen someone be so thankful for what they were receiving, and this family truly truly deserved the home.

On the flip side, Wednesday, and some of Thursday, the ASB group headed to another work site for demolition of an old house that was going to be re-built. When we arrived, the owner of the house we were tearing down was there, and said to us, "Thank you for taking out my trash." But, as we took everything out of the house, we found children's toys, army outfits, and memories that really should not have been thrown out, but we were doing as we were told, and tried to keep in mind that this man and his family were going to receive a better home.

For many of us, the army outfit, the toys, and the fact that the children were only six and seven years old, and at least one had Autism, really hit home and made us emotional. On the second day of demolition, only half the group went to help out, and we tore down walls, and watched as the house turned into a hollow home made of wood. It looked like a tornado had just blown through, but it was just us that were using crowbars and hammers to tear everything in site down. It wasn't fun.

On the last day of the trip, and while we got back on the plane to head back to Boston, each one of us had a new sense of ourselves, and of humanity, and why helping our community should be a huge part of everyone's lives. Simmons College was a huge help this year in supporting us, as they helped us reach our fundraising goal, and allowed us to go on this journey, and learn more about each other, ourselves, and the Greene County in which we were in. It was truly a life-changing experience that I would recommend to everyone.

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