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.

Criminal Justice: Working to Learn

It looks as if Chief Vince Alfano of the Bolton Police Department has decided to add some more Nichols talent to his team. On Wednesday December 5th, Vince Alfano returned to Nichols College to scout out some possible new interns in Professor Charbonneau’s 10:50 am class. One lucky student, Pat Derosa, made the cut as he got to talk separately with the Chief after class about an internship for next semester.


Pat took the necessary steps in order to pursue an internship and that first step involved meeting with Professor Charbonneau, discussing his future goals. Professor Charbonneau said, “I thought about what would be a good fit for Pat, the area where he lived, where his interests would lie, and right away I thought of Bolton Police Chief Alfano.” The internship process may be difficult but the results have been remarkable.The Chief made it clear that he loves hiring Nichols students. There have been two other interns in the past that have worked with the Bolton Police Department and according to the Chief, “I enjoyed working with them. They were a huge benefit to my department.” The Chief seems to be very impressed with Nichols students and admits that when the internships are completed, he and his staff wish they could remain.

The chief explained just how important an internship is to an employer looking at a resume. “If I see an internship on there, it tells me a couple things. One, the candidate didn’t just sit around in college and go to classes and take tests.They actually did more than they had to, and they actually got out into the field and had real world practical experience.”

Nichols has had great success at getting Criminal Justice majors out in the field and preparing them for their future careers. This year alone Professor Charbonneau has given twenty-five students help and guidance in getting an internship. Overall each year, Professor Charbonneau has about eighty percent of her students involved in an internship. Nichols is great at preparing students to dress in the business world, and in this case it really shows that it makes a difference. Commenting on Pat’s actual interview the Chief noted Pat’s professional appearance and acknowledged that it was a leg up in the hiring process.

Of course, classroom knowledge matters too. The Chief explained that “you could be the best police officer in the world, but if you can’t write effective reports, or if you can’t communicate well with people, or you can’t go into a classroom setting in a school and talk to the students, then you’re not going to be as effective and efficient as a police officer as you could be.” That’s just why the chief is so impressed with the Criminal Justice program here at Nichols.

Criminal Justice majors also have amazing drive to “protect and serve,” and Pat made it clear that he has others’ best interest at heart when he said, “I’ve always wanted to help people more than make a really good living, and when I heard that Nichols College offers internships, that was one of the aspects I saw that I wanted to go to.”

Despite what you see in the media, “being a police officer isn’t what you see on TV,” says Chief Alfano. The Chief stresses how he wants the internship to be fun and rewarding for Pat, who will be able to meet everyone in the town and shadow everything the Chief does. The internship is going to be a great opportunity not just for Pat, but for the Chief as well, who explained that the best way to learn is to teach.

It’s safe to say that Nichols prepares its students for the real world, and potential employers appreciate that aspect of a Nichols education. As the Chief said, “It’s a win win for everybody.” We will revisit Pat during his internship, to see the progression.

Produced by the Bison for the Nichols College Community