Get to know some of the women behind the Women’s Leadership Retreat!

“We all stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us.”

Tomorrow is the big day a lot of us have been waiting for! The first ever Women’s Leadership Retreat kicks off at 7 am tomorrow morning. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the faculty and staff who have volunteered their time and knowledge to make this weekend a success. Here’s a quick introduction to a few of them!

Maribeth Johnson-Flakes (@maribethjflakes)

What is your role on the BSU Campus? Associate Director, Office of Student Involvement & Leadership

What are your top five themes from the StrengthsQuest assessment?

  • Woo, Empathy, Communication, Individualization, Discipline

What drew you to become a facilitator for this event?

Advising and volunteering for women’s organizations is not only a passion of mine but a labor of love. Empowering young women to follow their dreams and aspirations is every woman’s responsibility.

What are you most excited about in regards to this event?

I’m hoping we can create a culture of women who feel empowered to accomplish great things on campus and beyond!

 If you could only pack two items (besides the basics) in your overnight bag, what would they be and why?

1) My dog, Radar- he would be sticking his head out so he could breath.
2) Food for Radar 🙂

What is your main hobby outside of work?

Working out

 What is one fun fact that you would like to share with the attendees?

I wear my watch on the hand I write with. 

 Sandy Neargarder

What is your role on the BSU Campus?  Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department

What are your top five strengths from the StrengthsQuest assessment?

  • Achiever, Learner, Discipline, Positivity, Harmony

 What drew you to become a facilitator for this event?

I want to encourage young women to realize that they have the potential to become active leaders in their lives. I feel as both a leader and a woman that I have learned a great deal about leadership through various situations and positions I have been involved with and I am interested in sharing this knowledge with other women so that they too can find success in various types of leadership roles.

What are you most excited about in regards to this event?

Spending an entire weekend with a great group of female students and facilitators!!

If you could only pack two items (besides the basics) in your overnight bag, what would they be and why?

Oh my……this is a tough one. One would be my cell phone. I would pack it in case of an emergency and of course for the flashlight feature in case I need to use the restroom in the middle of the night! The other thing I would pack would be my own pillow. Sleeping on my own pillow is a bonus!

What is your main hobby outside of work?

My main hobby is bike riding. I enjoy taking long rides with my friends and training for long distance rides like 50 to 100 miles.

What is one fun fact that you would like to share with the attendees?

I love cats! In fact, I have been actively involved in rescuing cats. I have some interesting stories to tell – all you need to do is ask me!

  Julie Hayes (@j_e_hayes)

What is your role on the BSU Campus?Resident Director

What are your top five strengths from the StrengthsQuest assessment?

  • Input, Individualization, Ideation, Restorative, Strategic

What drew you to become a facilitator for this event?

I have been privileged to have some fantastic female mentors in my leadership development, and I would like to pay it forward. We all stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us.

What are you most excited about in regards to this event?

Working with students and helping develop more female leadership!

If you could only pack two items (besides the basics) in your overnight bag, what would they be and why?

A hoodie, because I am always cold and a good book!

What is your main hobby outside of work?

I do a lot of fiber work, mostly crochet.

What is one fun fact that you would like to share with the attendees?

I’ve lived in over 21 different places in my life. The longest I’ve lived in one place in my adult life is 3 years.

 Jessica Birthisel

What is your role on the BSU Campus? Faculty member in the Communication Studies department

What are your top five strengths from the StrengthsQuest assessment?

  • Achiever, Communication, Woo, Futuristic, Strategic

What drew you to become a facilitator for this event?

Three things: 1.) a passion for gender studies and feminism; 2.) positive experiences as a student leader in college and excitement about giving back in that capacity; 3.) a desire to meet new students and other faculty and staff members since I just started here at BSU last semester.

What are you most excited about in regards to this event?

I’m looking forward to the workshop elements of the weekend (when participants will take the ideas we’re presenting and apply them to activities, reflections, discussions, etc.) Also just the social time to get to know the student participants and my facilitator colleagues.

If you could only pack two items (besides the basics) in your overnight bag, what would they be and why?

One would be a journal (these sorts of retreats and conferences always get me inspired to think/write/dream and I need a place to jot them down before the thoughts slip away.) The other would be hiking/walking shoes. I hope to get to go explore the grounds and walk around a bit. I love to check out a new space and this is my first time in the Cape Cod area.

What is your main hobby outside of work?

I moonlight as a novelist and when I have free time I love to work on writing fiction. I also bake a lot, make upcycled crafts, and spend a lot of time with my three awesome little boys.

What is one fun fact that you would like to share with the attendees?

I am a Beatles fanatic and one of the best days of my life was when I met Paul McCartney at a movie theater in Brighton, England, where I worked one summer in college through a work abroad program.

Teresa King (@teresaking)

What is your role on the BSU Campus? Director if the Honors Program & Associate Professor of Psychology

What are your top five strengths from the StrengthsQuest assessment?

  • Relator, Strategic, Learner, Input, Individualization

What drew you to become a facilitator for this event?

I want to do whatever I can to help young women feel empowered to make positive changes in their lives and communities.

What are you most excited about in regards to this event?

The chance to learn from the other facilitators and the students.

If you could only pack two items (besides the basics) in your overnight bag, what would they be and why?

A novel and my dog. There are not many experiences better than snuggling with my dog and getting lost in a good book.

What is your main hobby outside of work?   Bike riding and gardening

What is one fun fact that you would like to share with the attendees?

I have served as a wedding officiant and this June I will be officiating the wedding ceremony for a BSU alum.

Sarah Wiggins

What is your role on the BSU Campus? Associate Professor. History/Assistant Director, Honors Program

What are your top five strengths from the StrengthsQuest assessment?

  • Context, Learner, Achiever, Intellection, Responsibility

What drew you to become a facilitator for this event?

I have always been engaged with gender issues/studies and wanted to get involved, and I knew that this event would be a positive experience for everyone.

What are you most excited about in regards to this event?

I look forward to meeting students, sharing ideas, and building more community networks at BSU.

If you could only pack two items (besides the basics) in your overnight bag, what would they be and why?

I would bring my cat, Fate, because she actually enjoys travel.  She has traveled cross-country with my partner and me on many occasions.  I would also bring a Jane Austen novel to read in my cabin with a flashlight.

What is your main hobby outside of work?

I enjoy a number of activities:  hiking, reading, hunting for antiques, being outdoors in general.

Diane Bell (@dianebell424)

What is your role on the BSU Campus? Director, Community Service Center

What are your top five strengths from the StrengthsQuest assessment?

  • Adaptability, Developer, Connectedness, Positivity, Relator 

What drew you to become a facilitator for this event?

I’ve never done anything like this before so for me, this was a way for me to challenge myself.  I’m not sure what made me do this, other than the idea that I might be able to part a little bit of knowledge about leadership to the young women participating in this retreat.

What are you most excited about in regards to this event?

I’m excited to learn from the women attending this retreat – from the facilitators and from the young women participants.  I don’t always see myself as a leader yet I’m going to be surrounded by so many women who I totally see as leaders on this campus.

If you could only pack two items (besides the basics) in your overnight bag, what would they be and why?

I would pack my iPad so I can listen to music. I would also pack my camera as I love to take photos.

What is your main hobby outside of work?

I love to travel by train because I don’t like to fly.  My goal is to see all 50 states and I’m almost there with the exception of about 5 states.  Of course, Hawaii and Alaska will be challenging but I’ve already figured out a way to see them without flying!

I also LOVE sports and am an avid baseball and football fan.

What is one fun fact that you would like to share with the attendees?

In addition to traveling to all 50 states, I also want to volunteer in all 50 states.  For some states, that merely means donating to a local cause by giving money or sending items.  For other states, that means physically volunteering.  My job makes this an attainable goal but I’ve got to volunteer while vacationing in other states.  Some day, I want to produce a photo book of all the places I’ve volunteered across the country.


Congratulations to the 2012 recipients of the Impact Awards!

At a ceremony held at the end of April, the Student Government Association, the Community Service Center and the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership celebrated students, organizations and colleagues who made an impact on co-curricular life.

Please join us in celebrating the recipients of this year’s awards:

2012 Spirit of Service Awards

Kelsey Andrade

Alicia Burgess

Zachary Cruz

Claire Dalencour

Nicole Doniger

Shannon Fernando-Cole

Neal Gaudet

Jillian Gawlik

Jennifer Haugen

Brian Kelleher-Calnan

Amanda Kennedy

Melissa Kennedy

Manara Marzuq

Danielle Paradiso

Ericka Parker

Milca Paul

Hayley Price

Christina Provencher

Maureen Ryan

Christopher Segu

Frank Theodat

Mercedees Thompson

Alyssa Valcourt

Xing Yuan

Helping Hands Award

Circle K

IMPACTful Service Award (group)

The Clothesline Project

IMPACTful Service Award (individual)

Darcy Palmer 

Innovative Service Award

Turkey Trot (Athletics Department and the Community Service Center)


Alternative Break Selfless Service Award

Winter Break: Melinda Garcia

Spring Break: Greg Dudek

 The Impact Award

Amanda Wood

Kelly Ried

Melissa Hughes

Elizabeth Jaeger

Bridgewater’s Best

Kayley Robsham

Katrina Delaney

Alexis Kay

Sebastián Patino

Unsung Hero

Mikey D.

Gabriella Diniz

Most Valuable Program

The Voices that Survived: Genocide Survivors Panel

Advisor of the Year

Richardson Pierre-Louis, Advisor to Men Integrated in Brotherhood


BSU Chopped!

by Nicole Celeste, Student Weekend Activities Team

The hit TV show on the Food Network, “Chopped”,  is making its way to the Bridgewater Campus. Teams seek to compete for the coveted title of Top Chef here at Bridgewater. Sodexo chefs beware; there may be some competition for your job! Ok…that may be a stretch; so the students may not be working in a Bobby Flay Restaurant any time soon. But that doesn’t mean Student Weekend Activities Team won’t challenge these teams.

Here’s the deal. We invited six teams and six teams only to register for the contest. The teams are set up in two’s. The premise of the “Chopped” show and for this game is as follows:

“Their challenge is to take a mystery basket of ingredients and turn them into a dish that is judged on their creativity , presentation, and taste with minimal time to plan and execute. The show is divided into three rounds: “Appetizer“, “Entrée“, and “Dessert“. In each round, the chefs are given a basket containing between three and five ingredients, and the dish each competitor prepares must contain each of those ingredients. The ingredients are often ones which are not commonly prepared together.”


Alright, now that we have the main idea let’s talk  all the details. These teams of two will be competing for a pair of Sox tickets baby! And not just any Red Sox Game tickets; nay nay I say. We are having these teams compete for Red Sox vs. New York Yankees tickets. Talk about the Hunger Games! Although, I don’t know how hungry our judges will be…

 Our judges will hopefully be delighted with the visual, creative, tasty dishes our contestants create. But let’s be honest, the pairing of the food are certainly not complementary. So what are in the baskets? My lips are sealed friends! But I can tell some examples that have been showcased in an older show date; this included:  watermelon, canned sardines, pepper jack cheese, and zucchini. Mmmmmm that sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Don’t worry- viewers aren’t required to eat the food.

But we do have cuisine that will make your mouth water. Student Weekend Activities Team is pulling out all the stops. Ok, I will give you one item on the menu for our viewers to enjoy: scallops wrapped in bacon. Told you, we are going all out.

So, at this event you get to view food, taste food; and play with food? Yes, your parents always said never play with your food; however SWAT is going around this rule with some fun games. We are talking food trivia, taste buds challenge, name that culture and more! Major prizes will be given away too! The biggest of them all? A pair of Red Sox tickets for you!

The weekends aren’t just about sleeping in and watching TV. Its Springfest weekend and Chopped is coming to the large ball room near you. So stop on by, enjoy free food and win cool prizes! I bet the teams would love the support. Hope to see you Saturday April 21st at 5pm in the Large Ball room.

Men’s Leadership Retreat Team Profile: Robert Brock

Q1: Why do you think this event is important to BSU?

This event is important to as it is intended to engage current and future male leaders of BSU to become self-aware, aware of other’s similarities and differences in relation to the topic of leadership.  Building a team and a sense of community is an integral part in accomplishing tasks and goals in all facets of a man’s life whether in sports, work, family or community. 
Q2: What motivated you to sign up to be a retreat leader?
Working with students and seeing their growth and development over time is hands-down the favorite part of my position here at BSU.  It is truly rewarding when you can help a student learn new skills and help them become a professional.  This was a great opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge as well as learn from others. 
Q3: Why do you think students should sign up for this?
This retreat will be a great opportunity for students to learn about themselves and use that knowledge to improve their leadership talents.  This will be a great resume builder and will allow students to create new friendships and coalitions over the BSU landscape that they may not have been able to form otherwise. 
Q4: What is one little known fact about you that we should know?

I have a truly eclectic taste in music and my Ipod is filled with over 12,000 songs.  Some artist include Outkast, Tyga, Al Green, Patsy Cline, the Deftones, Coldplay and Incubus.  I usually throw my Ipod on shuffle and enjoy the ride!  


Men’s Leadership Retreat Team Profile: Richardson PierreLouis

Q1:      Why do you think this event is important to BSU?

” I think that so many of our existing and future student leaders need “formal” leadership training in order to avoid the mistakes of past student leaders.  Usually by the time our student leaders find their way, they are usually getting ready to graduate and don’t have the time to share what they have learned through the process.”

Q2:      What motivated you to sign up to be a retreat leader?

“My interests in this area originated from from an ongoing frustration with the cycle of failed leadership that I have experienced with the student organizations that I have advised in the last 5 years at BSU.”

Q3:      Why do you think students should sign up for this?

” If for no other reason, the opportunity to have a discussion about what it means to be a leader, with some of the brightest and motivated minds at BSU.”


Men’s Leadership Retreat Team Profile: Ed Cabellon

by Cindy Kane, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership

This post is the first in a series of a few where we share information from those facilitators who will be leading the Men’s Leadership Retreat.

For more information about the retreat, please visit our office or check out information on the Involvement Network here:

Q1:    Why do you think this event is important to BSU?
“To give male leaders on campus an opportunity to develop and grow their skills and to create a network of support for each other.”

Q2:     What motivated you to sign up to be a retreat leader?
“To help our male students find their voice, raise their confidence levels, and be a visible support person in their BSU lives.”

Q3:     Why do you think students should sign up for this?
“To challenge themselves to become better men and better leaders. They may think they know their strengths and how to apply them post-graduation, but this experience will really test them.”

Q4:     What is one little known fact about you that we should know?
“Even though I’m ‘vertically challenged’, I love to play basketball.  When people play with or against me for the first time, they underestimate what I can do.  Its always fun to see the looks on their faces when their initial assumptions are transformed by my actions on the court.”

Lessons from Sorority Recruitment

by Cindy Kane, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership

(originally posted to The SA Blog at

I have recently confronted the realization that it has been twenty years since I participated in sorority recruitment as a student at Lafayette College.  Given most of the readers on this blog probably assume I am 24, you know my secret of graduating from college at 5 years old.

Our campus is buzzing with Spring recruitment plans and just being with our student leaders helped me to recall some great memories with my sisters in Alpha Gamma Delta.  When I was in college I spent a lot of time on recruitment activities with the chapter through various leadership roles, so sorority recruitment time always reminds me of the good, bad and YIKES! times we spent together.  As a sorority member it’s easy to understand the recruitment process after it happens once, but I can only imagine the experience of those not connected with sorority life to observe these events in action.  What in the world could all that clapping, singing, intense discussion and matching clothing have to do with student learning?

When I reflect on my co-curricular learning as a college student, I realize now that the preparation and implementation of recruitment programs had a huge impact.  I wanted to share some of my learning lessons:

  • There’s nothing quite like a sincere welcome to a group.  Since my sorority days, I have been part of enough meetings and committees where I have felt like an outsider or “new person” and haven’t been brought in.  I don’t care how old you are.  It’s so valuable to have someone willing to “bring you in” and educate you about the standards, history and culture of a group. I appreciate those who have mastered it and use it to bring others into the fold.
  • Remembering names is a skill you can work on.  When you are meeting hundreds of women at lightning speed, you have to learn to remember names and details about people.  Tricks for remembering names have paid off immensely in my work life and in my personal life as well. Even though I’m an extrovert by nature, sorority recruitment taught me to focus on the individuals just one at a time and the value of remembering names and details for the next conversation.
  • Tasks and vision must connect. Motivating peers to do most anything is tough as a student leader, but experience as recruitment chair taught me how to clarify the “big picture” and help groups to work with the vision at the forefront.  Writing hundreds of names on index cards (old school!) wasn’t all that much fun, but I learned how to help others focus on the fact that each step along that process would bring us closer to a great group of new women for our organization.  I think this experience gave me great preparation for supervision roles today.
  • Diversity is a pay-it-forward value.  Our advisors and chapter leaders taught us the impact that diversity has on a group.  They made this intentional membership education so that our voting decisions would be as open as possible to allow for the broadest possible diversity in our organization.  Their teaching set a great example of how important it is to have open conversations and diversity education.  Today, I am better equipped to teach where it rather than losing patience with people who may lack information or who may still be searching for positive role modeling.
  • We all answer to someone. Back then, we were given recruitment rules from the Panhellenic, rules from our national organization, instructions from our faculty advisor, tips from our alumni and directives from any traveling consultants that may have visited campus. It seemed then as if everyone was telling us what to do and that we answered to about twelve different “bosses.”  Life is still that way, as I’m taking direction from just as many places with even more “high stakes” involved.  I remember thinking it would get easier “in the real world.”  Now I realize that accountability is everywhere and that everyone answers to someone.

Sorority recruitment was a whirlwind, but when I think back on all of the life lessons I gained from that experience these are among my most used today.  When I was a potential new member back then, sorority life looked like all kinds of fun that might pay off in some way in the end.  Today, I look back and realize that the 18-year-old woman who made the decision to get involved during all that craziness made one of the best educational decisions for life and leadership in the future.

I’d love to hear from both sorority members and everyone else too.  Let’s talk about recruitment!

Leadership is in the Air

by Matt Miller, Assistant Director

The Spring 2012 Semester is upon us.  I always feel some excitement as we start the new calendar year, warm weather is approaching (although maybe not quick enough), some of the biggest events of the year happen in spring semester and student leaders start looking to next year and what leadership roles they might take on.

You haven’t been thinking about that last one? Oh.  Well now is the time! Within student organizations, I often see students at this time of year contemplating the next step is with their involvement.  There are those who are ready to take on the world and they’ve been ready for a leadership position since the middle of September.  There are those who have been in a leadership position but aren’t sure if they are ready to move up or if they even enjoyed the position.  Then there are those people who feel their experience doesn’t compare to those currently in leadership roles, so they could never be the President, Vice-President or any other position.

If you in the first category, the one where you are ready to take on the world, I say, “Go for it!” but at the same time take a step back and truly appreciate the time commitment and expectations of the position you are going for.  At one point in my own college career I had this attitude and I jumped in to a lot of leadership positions all at once, I didn’t really think about how multiple roles would affect my other involvements, my class work or my free time.  Sometimes it is better to go for a quality experience and focus on one or two leadership roles and do them really well.

Already in a leadership position but not sure what to do next? Make sure to weigh your options, evaluate the possible experiences available to you and what benefits you will gain with a new challenge. Remember as well that leadership doesn’t require a title.  Yes, I’ll say it again, leadership does not require a title.  Maybe the best thing that you can offer your organization and yourself this coming year is being a leader within the membership of your group.  I’ve seen many student leaders who hold a leadership position one year and then take a “step back” the following year. At first it might be strange to be “on the other side” again, but from that vantage point they often are able to influence and mentor other members of the organization in ways they weren’t able to before.

For those of you in the last group I mentioned, remember that everyone in those leadership positions today was once in your shoes.  Leadership within an organization, whether in a formal position or not, is a learning process.  You have to take some chances, ask questions, step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.  Be open about your fears with your advisors and fellow student leaders, because they have probably been there before or might be thinking the same thing, and together you might just be able to come up with ways to address your fears and challenges.

No matter what route you decide to take, remember that leadership is an experience, a process, a skill, and much more.  Although many argue leadership is just a quality some people are born with, I would partly agree and say that leadership is a quality we are all born with, it is your choice what to do with it. So this Spring Semester, make the most of it and start thinking about how you will develop your leadership potential!

What are your thoughts or share your experiences! Going to go for a leadership position or looking for a different route?

Communicate like a pro!

by Kelly Burne, Graduate Assistant

Student leaders are often presented with the unique opportunity of exploring the professional world while still gaining knowledge and skills through the traditional student experience. In choosing to seek a leadership position, you’ve already proven that you’ve got what it takes to make a positive impact on your community. Here are some handy professional communication hints to help you make the best possible impression.

1) Thnk Me L8er

Text message lingo and emoticons are quick and cute ways to get your thoughts across to family and friends, but leave the smiley faces and text abbreviations to your BFF and your G-ma. They have absolutely no place in professional communication. If you want to be taken seriously by the professional community, present yourself as a serious and capable in any form of written communication.

2) Consider the Voice of your Department or Organization

Be careful when using the BSU name or the names of specific university departments or organizations in the content of written communication or even your email signature. By including these names, you’re suggesting that the content of your communication reflects the position of the respective organization or department.

3) Play it Safe

If you’re questioning whether your language is crossing the lines of professionalism, it probably is. Consider other ways to get your thoughts across in a more professional manner. If you’re not sure how to make this happen, solicit the advice of a professional mentor.  There’s nothing wrong with asking questions. You’ll gain a great learning experience and you’ll know what to do when similar situations arise in the future.

4) Learn from Mistakes

Chances are you’ll end up putting your foot in your mouth at some point. We’ve all been there. So whether you address the president of the university as “dude” or send a smiley face to your new boss, just remember that you’re only human. You’re bound to make mistakes. The signs of a true leader and professional are owning up to those faux pas, learning from them, and keeping the big picture in mind. Ultimately, what matters most is not the LOL you included in your email, but the contributions you make to your community as a whole.

Set SMART goals in 2012!

by Joanne Darrigo. Graduate Assistant

Looking for a SMART way to set goals? Need an effective way to set and follow through with both small and large goals! When setting goals you must imagine the future. Understand where you are right now and where you would like to be. By following the SMART model you can begin to put your dreams into action.!

 “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy

SPECIFIC: Be concise with exactly what you are looking to achieve. The more specific your goal the easier it is to attain. You must answer the six “W” questions:

  • Who:      Who is involved?
  • What:     What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where:    Identify a location.
  • When:     Establish a time frame.
  • Which:    Identify requirements and constraints.
  • Why:      Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

MEASURABLE: Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that encourages you on to reach your goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

AGREED UPON: There must be agreement with all the stakeholders on what the goals should be. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them.

REALISTIC: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

TIME ACTIVATED: A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:

  • When?
  • What can I do 6 months from now?
  • What can I do 6 weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

It is important to remember that life happens, and when achieving your goal does not go as planned it is not your failures, but how you decide to react to them.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Theresa