Many of us know someone who has been impacted by cancer whether they fought the battle or supported somebody else who did. This semester, the Sport Management and Hospitality program’s Event and Conference Management class teamed up with Massachusett’s local non-profit 15-40 Connection – their goal to create, plan and execute events that raised awareness for the non-profit’s mission of the early detection of cancer.
15-40 Connection is a non-profit organization located in Westborough, Massachusetts. The organization was started by Nichols College alum Jim Coughlin to raise early detection of cancer awareness amongst people whose ages ranged from 15 years to 40 years. The biggest concern is that the cancer survival rates of this age range have remained stagnant since 1975. The organization works to diminish this statistic and provide the public with the resources and education that promote the recognition of cancer at its earliest stages.
Nichols Business professor Bryant Richards, Mohegan Sun executive, decided to take a hands on approach with his Spring 2013 event planning class. Instead of presenting content filled PowerPoints and lectures Richards sent his group of undergrads into the real world and pushed them to take create successful events while satisfying the mission of 15-40 Connection.
Many students enrolled in the class had never planned an event before. Even though this was the case, students formed teams and took on the challenge. Since January, students have been perfecting their events. As a result, the Nichols campus will be swarming with 15-40 Connection awareness events starting next week as four of the six event planning teams make their debut with a 5K (Sunday 4/7), haircut-a-thon (Monday 4/8), 3 v. 3 basketball tournament (Tuesday 4/9) and scavenger hunt/race (Wednesday 4/10).
Starting next week, come out and help the teams accomplish their mission and support the movement to improve cancer survival rates amongst 15-40 year olds. Team up with 15-40 Connection and Nichols event-planning students as they strive to make a difference!
It’s not every day at Nichols, or any college for that matter, that you see a course being actually created and primarily led by undergraduate students instead of professors. This semester an honors course being offered is unlike any other that has existed on the Nichols campus. How did this happen?
While talking to Professor Despain one day, juniors Karrie Gorman and Autumn Hicks, came to a startling realization that there’s nothing on campus that discusses the issue of gender roles or sexism. And with that thought, the idea for a gender roles class was born. Autumn and Karrie’s first task was to see the concept to Honors Program advisers Professor’s Hans Despain and Kellie Deys. The four of them comprised the course design team. The second step was recruiting enough potential students, which was also quickly accomplished. With these two hurdles overcome the college supported the idea fully.
This is the first course at Nichols that has ever been primarily student taught and more student driven than ever. While Karrie and Autumn ultimately came up with the course, and created key exercises such as weekly journals, the class is helpfully guided by both professors. In a gender roles class, it is certainly interesting to have both a male and female perspective on certain topics in class.
The reason Karrie and Autumn felt this topic was so important was in part that Nichols, being a business school, attracts a larger percentage of
male students than female ones. It should be acceptable to be yourself but sometimes the pressure to be all business all the time can be overwhelming. Karrie said, “Girls basically have to be little men to be successful.” There are things that need to be improved on campus in terms identifying what actually goes on in society and how things are portrayed in the media.
When registration began the class filled up quickly with about thirty students, much more than expected. The course is discussion based where most meetings occur in a circle. The class will view clips online that have to do with gender roles, as well as read articles and novels revolving around the theme. The students are even encouraged to bring in “cultural artifacts” in which they see gender roles being displayed. By the end of the year each student will have completed a final project.
By the time the course ends Karrie says, “I hope it shows students they have power on campus, they need to speak their mind.”
We will be checking on the gender roles class at the end of the year to see how effective the course was for students and to look at some final projects.
There are a variety of traits that can help a student stand out in a crowd. But what is it that makes Nichols students terrific? Two recruiters who attended the recent career fair shared some of their thoughts on this question. Jason Dekow, a Nichols graduate from the class of 2006, who represented Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, stated that “Nichols students are terrific in a number of ways”. Students impressed possible employers by being well dressed, professional and engaging. Those who really stood out to recruiters had done prior research on the companies they were interested in. Kevin King, Nichols graduate from the class of 2007, who represented WB Mason at the career fair, believes that “the small class sizes at Nichols allow students the opportunity to learn values that they would not learn in other larger colleges”. Nichols focuses not only on teaching students to succeed in the classroom, but also in a professional setting. Students learn how to market themselves through the way they dress, act and prepare for any given situation. This is what makes Nichols students so terrific.
Both recruiters mentioned that Nichols students have drive that is not often seen in most college populations. Nichols students are working toward their future career, and they are driven to find the one best suited to them. Kevin offers a word of advice, “Know where you want to be at the next stage in your life.” Recruiters are looking for individuals who are passionate about what they do and who have the drive to continue improving and advancing in their careers. Having this drive can set you apart from a sea of others looking for the same opportunities. It is this drive that sets Nichols students apart from other college students.
Jillian Stadig Class of 2014
Produced by the Bison for the Nichols College Community