Alumnae/i Feature

Transformative Education: Maegan Bernier ’20 Teaches Life Skills, Resumes, and Self Care

Why did you pursue a business degree at Simmons?

I went to a vocational high school for medical careers and had worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) before coming to Simmons. I started working at 16 years old and learned how to work with a variety of people and how to manage my time.

I had thought I would enter the nursing program at Simmons, but my experience during high school helped me realize that it wasn’t for me. I ended up testing a bunch of majors — nursing, biochemistry, biology.

My Dad said, try a business class and tell me how you like it. I fell in love with it! My grades went up, along with my morale and my motivation. Business for me came naturally. I came from a family of entrepreneurs and grew up in that atmosphere. When I was eight years old, my grandfather taught me how to draw blueprints. Still, I hadn’t expected to end up in business. I’m grateful that my parents trusted me and trusted the process.

What led you to your current job as a Career Coach and Teacher at Argosy Collegiate Charter School?

My first experience with teaching was at Simmons, in a service-learning project with Assistant Professor Erin DeCurtis. After that, Dr. Cynthia Ingols arranged a business internship at a vocational high school, where I helped students find co-op jobs in their trade. I thought, “I can do this — I’m made for this!”

I’m a career readiness teacher for 6, 7, and 8th grades. I teach the students how to write resumes and cover letters. The sooner we teach kids life skills, the better we prepare them for life. Now colleges have career centers and life-skill learning, but starting younger means earlier success. I get emails from students saying, “I got a job with the resume we built!”

We also talk about dealing with stress and anxiety. During the pandemic, I started a teacher TikTok account to start a conversation with the kids about how I deal with anxiety. It started mostly as a joke to get the kids to laugh. I now have nearly 17,000 followers, and my students get more joy out of my videos than I do. It’s also opened up valuable conversations about engaging in social media and dealing with online trolls and cyberbullying. I like to maintain a positive space for my students, online and in school — their happiness means the world to me.

I like to maintain a positive space for my students, online and in school — their happiness means the world to me.

What led you to pursue your master’s degree at BU?

I’m doing a master’s program in educational leadership and policy at Boston University and will be starting my PhD in Education Law at Liberty University next year. I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in education. I’ve always been an advocate for making things right and equitable. I can see myself as a principal, superintendent, or dean, someday, making policies to support students who have limited access to education, for whatever reason. I think I can make an impact in that kind of position.

What did you learn about leadership at Simmons?

I learned to take chances! I’m the first girl born in 32 years in my family, and none have been born since. I’m surrounded by men all the time. Going to Simmons, a women-centered institution, flipped my whole environment. I learned to “shoot my shot” for opportunities. I applied to attend the Forte Conferences for Undergraduate Women. I was selected to attend Forté Foundation's Business Leadership Conference in New York City; it’s a national conference, and they only invite about 100 women. I also entered my first pageant for Miss Massachusetts while at Simmons, and right now, I’m Miss Massachusetts US International. Without Simmons, I wouldn’t have this title!

Since then, I’ve signed a modeling contract with MMG New York. The kids I teach are intrigued — they want to know about the fancy dresses I wear in fashion shows. But it’s important to me to choose the work that I do, the designers I work with, and set expectations. I want to inspire these kids to follow their dreams.

My best advice is to take risks, learn to fail, then get up and do it again. Discomfort means that you are growing — when you are too comfortable, you stagnate. Failing helps you learn more about yourself, the subject you're studying, and the world. Even when I experience anxiety, I remind myself that it’s all about getting back up and taking every day as a fresh start. At Simmons, if you fall, someone will help you up, and you’ll grow from the experience.

What is your favorite Simmons memory?

I was part of the farewell video for the Class of 2020. I was the last person to talk, and it allowed me to thank my parents and my brother for supporting me. I’m glad I had that opportunity to say thank you despite the pandemic. I wish it could have been on stage, but being a part of that video is one of those memories I will cherish.

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