Category Archives: On The Hill

Driven Part 1

Taylor Therrien knew from a young age that she wanted to own and drive a race car someday. When her dad told her to save her money, she did just that. At the age of fourteen she went up to her dad with all the money she had saved, which was enough to purchase a car. They purchased a Dodge Charger and then worked on it to prepare it for racing.

In 2009, she broke through the racing circuit at Seekonk Speedway, participating in the races that take place every Friday night. In her rookie season, she earned two feature wins. After four seasons she has a total of nine wins and earned the “Most Popular Driver” award for the Sport4 division. She is one of five women that participate on Friday nights and there are a total of eleven divisions. In the 2013 season Taylor will be moving up to the Sport Truck division which is a big accomplishment for someone who is still only nineteen years old. The truck is currently being modified, and after the modification are done, the truck will visit Nichols College.

Taylor loves Nichols College for numerous reasons and is glad that she made the choice to come to here. She first received a post card from Nichols that caught her eye and was very personal. Then Taylor decided to make a visit, and this gave her a good idea of what being a Bison was like. She noticed how teachers knew students on a first name basis and that gave her the feeling of being part of a community.

Since Taylor is a Sports Management major, she has had a lot of contact with Professor Lipptrap and Professor Harmon. She says they have both spent numerous hours helping her to succeed more and more each day that she spends at Nichols. All of Taylor’s hard work over her past two years here is starting to pay off. She has landed a practicum with the Providence Bruins, and A.H.L. affiliate for the Boston Bruins, for the spring semester. She notes that this opportunity, along with all the other connections that the school possesses, will help her succeed in the work place and in finding a job after her graduation in 2015. Her career goal is to work for the New England Patriots or New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Taylor makes a valid point when she states, “Nichols isn’t small, it’s just close knit.” The closeness of the Nichols community makes this a special place for Taylor and many other students. Students like Taylor realize that the one on one attention the school provides will help the success of graduates in finding a job after graduation. Taylor is a resident of Coventry, Rhode Island and commutes back and forth to school on days she is in class. For Taylor, it is worth it to make an hour drive everyday to be at a school that will lead her to success in the future. She is clearly driven not just on the track.

Ingredients and Creativity at Chocolate Innovations

At Chocolate Innovations, Rob Russo has lived up the name having created many new and exciting flavors using ideas from customers and his own culinary creativity. One of his pride and joys was suggested by a Nichols student; a peanut butter cup sandwiched between two Oreo cookies then submersed in chocolate. From there it spun out of control and he started making new creations every week. Sin-a-bon Truffles, Macadamia Butter Cups, Expresso Truffles, and a devilish Lava Cup which is a peanut butter cup with a scorching finish of chili oil.

He has been developing gift ideas as to try to step into the  weddings, corporate gifts and holiday specials market. In these cases he found through experience and schooling that more options may not always be better. So for Valentines Day this year he offered two boxes; “I Love Valentine’s Day” and “I Hate Valentine’s Day” in addition to a limited production item. The boxes go beyond name and are more of an idea; “I Love Valentine’s Day” is the traditional idea of Cherry Truffles, Chocolate Strawberries and a Strawberry Rose. Whereas the “I Hate Valentine’s Day Box” is aimed at new age ideas of Chocolate Bacon, Oreo Cups and Cakeballs. The limited production item is also unique and different, this year it is a strawberry rose with a white chocolate base and pink, blue or purple accents added. The idea is to make a good selection of items universally liked so you can reach a broad target market.

As Rob continues to expand his business, try his products give him feedback and he will continue to use fine ingredients to create unique and delicious products.  He is quite active on Facebook, so follow Chocolate Innovations there.

An Experience Not to be Forgotten-CJM Graduate Jason Gonzalez

Jason Gonzalez spent twelve weeks in the Corrections Academy and that has led to recently being employed at the Worcester County House of Corrections as a Corrections Officer. This is an accomplishment to be proud of, all within several months of graduating from Nichols. As Jason started his speech to the Nichols students, he began with, “It was an experience I will never forget.”

Jason, who graduated in 2012, returned to campus to have a very enlightening conversation with the current Criminal Justice majors on his experience in his most recent endeavor, the Corrections Academy, and how Nichols has helped him on his path. Returning with Jason was 1970 Nichols graduate, Mike Bird who is now the Supervisor of Parole Board.

Throughout the discussion, Jason made it very clear that there are four main points he wanted to stress that are necessary in his career of criminal justice. The first one being, attend to detail. During his twelve weeks at the academy, detail during inspections and every day routines were key. Jason said, “Every day we would have inspections and I would fail. The field is truly not meant for everyone. I went into it blind and was shocked.” Being perfectly put together at all times is what may separate a good corrections officer from a targeted one. For instance if you don’t have your shirt perfectly ironed and tucked in, the inmates seem to take note on you and act on it.

The second point Jason made was you must have precise communication skills. Although Jason works in a dangerous environment, he informed us, “I don’t carry firearms. I don’t have any spray or weapons. All I have are my communication skills.” This may come to a shock to most people but it really just proves how well you must be able to communicate. Jason pressed the issue that inmates are people too, and the best weapon is actually your mind and words.

Verbal Communication is absolutely necessary when you are dealing with people who haven’t been out from behind bars in so long. Jason said he learned most, if not all of his communication skills at Nichols. In his business communication classes he learned the importance of appropriate hand gestures and posture. Jason said, “You have to look squared away. All you have in this field is your reputation. You must demand respect, but most importantly, you have to give respect to earn it.”

The third valuable point Jason shared with the students is, start now. The most helpful thing a criminal justice major can do for themselves is start right now. Jason said, “Discover if you are fit for this field now. Shave every day, work out every day, and try to live the lifestyle that you would as a Correctional Officer. You’ll be more prepared and you’ll find out if it’s for you right away.” Nichols is great with helping criminal justice majors out in this area, considering there have been sixty internships in the past four years in the criminal justice program, with twenty-five this year alone.

Last but certainly not least, Jason suggested getting involved. When you are involved on campus, it makes you a well rounded person as well as helps you stand out. Jason had an outstanding academic and extracurricular background at Nichols. He was an RA for two years, Student Ambassador President, a member of the criminal justice club, a member of Investment club and also worked with Public Safety as a dispatcher. Jason said, “Getting a four-year degree is a social norm nowadays. Everyone has one. It is what you do while you are at school that sets you apart. Get involved.”

Jason was most grateful for the education he received while attending Nichols. More specifically, he was grateful for Professor Charbonneau, who helped him feel more prepared and confident in a field that often scares people away. Jason has gained so much knowledge from the criminal justice program here at Nichols; he has been able to use it on the job. For that, not only do his coworkers respect him but so do the inmates. So far, Jason has been extremely successful in his field and has been able to show his talent. Now, Jason is first on the list for the Smithfield Rhode Island Police Department.