Making the Grade in Kenya Fundraising Dinner

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On Tuesday, February 24th, the Honors Student Congress held the “Making the Grade in Kenya” fundraising dinner. The goal of this event was to raise a $2,000 scholarship for Hannah, a female student at the Beverly School of Kenya. This scholarship would cover all of Hannah’s educational cost for one year, including room and board and other educational expenses.  After a tremendous amount of hard work, I am happy to report that the Honors Student Congress surpassed this goal and raised nearly $4,000 – enough to fund Hannah for two years! This could not have been done without the work of the Honors Student Congress Service Committee and the incredible support of the Bridgewater State University faculty, staff, families, and community members. The entire BSU community came together to support this cause, and we would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support we received; with your help we were able to double our goal!

The night began with a silent auction hour, with an array of items available to be bid on. Items up for auction included Maroon 5 concert tickets, Red Sox tickets, Hy-line tickets, BSU sweatshirts, restaurant gift cards, and much more! All the proceeds from the silent auction went directly towards Hannah’s scholarship. The remaining funds were raised through donations and the selling of 50/50 raffle tickets. During this opening hour, many people also stopped by our letter writing station, where they wrote letters to students at the Beverly School of Kenya.

After the auction, Nara Nascimento, chair of the Honors Student Congress Service Committee, welcomed everyone to the event. After this welcoming address, Emily Wiegand, the Service Committee Chair-elect, introduced Sue Swanberg, an ambassador for the Beverly School of Kenya. During her presentation, Sue Swanberg provided the audience with a detailed look at the school. Through a combination of pictures and stories of her personal experiences visiting the school, her presentation truly allowed the audience to understand the students and the mission of the Beverly School of Kenya. Following Sue Swanberg’s presentation, Abdi Lidondi, the founder of the school, provided the audience with a few words about the history of the Beverly School of Kenya.  Dinner followed, along with the announcement of the silent auction winners and the winner of the 50/50 raffle.

Thank you again to everyone who made this fundraiser a success!

For more information about the Beverly School of Kenya, visit their website at http://beverlyschoolofkenya.com/.

-K. A.

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Letter From The President of Honors Student Congress!

For the past two years I have served as President of the BSU Honors Student Congress.  I have seen this organization grow from a simple idea to a well-oiled machine with an efficient organizational structure, a concise mission statement and Constitution, and a core set of values.  As myself and the other individuals who have seen this organization through from the beginning are preparing to graduate from BSU, we cannot help but acknowledging what an integral part this organization has been in our undergraduate experience and what exactly the Honors Student Congress has meant to each of us.

So, when I think about the Honors Student Congress, what do I think about?  I think about the trailblazing students I have mentored through the Honors mentoring program.  I think of the lifelong friends and memories I have made through this organization.  I think of our advisor, Amy Couto, and the constant encouragement, support, and time that she, Dr. King, and Dr. Wiggins have dedicated not only to me, but to all of our students.  And I think of the impact we have collectively been able to make in just our two years of recognition at BSU.

It is true that all things come to an end and my time as President and my time at BSU are drawing to a close, however, I am confident the Honors Student Congress is only going to continue its growth.  My successor,  also my mentee, Adam Costa, along with all of the other individuals elected to Executive Board positions for the fall, are all truly exceptional individuals and I am looking forward to seeing what they are able to accomplish.  During my discussions with the incoming leadership of the HSC, I continue to stress the importance of community.  In becoming a larger organization we have noted the need for a set organizational structure and clear purpose, however, it is important to never forget our roots and our mission. We started this organization to establish a stronger sense of community within the honors program, to foster meaningful connections, and to build intentional leaders within our community, and we must never forget this.  In the end, we will not remember the emails we sent, the exact content of each of our meetings, or navigating the event planning process.  What we will remember are the friends we have made, the laughter we shared, and the moments we were able to make a difference.

Don’t miss out on the great events the Honors Student Congress has planned for the rest of this semester!  More Pizza and Profs, Trivia Nights, service projects, and off-campus trips are coming your way!  On behalf of the Honors Student Congress, best of luck with your midterms as well as the rest of the semester!

Kevin Costa

President, Honors Student Congress

Adventures in Nicaragua with Olga Pou-Felix

IMG_5487 Hi everyone! Over winter break, honors student Olga Pou-Felix traveled to Nicaragua on a study tour focusing on the geography of coffee. Read the interview below to find out about Olga’s adventures abroad! Thanks Olga!

– K.A.

Major, Year, & Fun Fact? Spanish – Secondary Education Concentration, Geography minor, freshman, Fun Fact: I’ve been to seven countries (but would like to go to WAY more places!)

Where did you study abroad? How long? I went on the Nicaragua study tour for two weeks (January 2nd-16th) with Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan.

What interested you in this study abroad program? Professor James is really passionate about the fair trade coffee industry and he would mention it in class (Olga was in Dr. Hayes-Bohanan’s Honors First Year Seminar: Geography of Brockton last semester). Just hearing about his experiences made me want to experience them as well. Also, I am a travel enthusiast and just love adventure!FullSizeRender

What is your favorite memory from your trip abroad? My favorite memory was probably hiking up to a waterfall, Peñas Blancas. The view was breathtaking. 

What surprised you most about your time abroad? I was pleasantly surprised by the hospitality that I found in our homestays. It’s one thing to be in someone else’s country but another thing to be in their home. When you’re in their homes they work as hard as they can to make you feel like you’re at home, which was something that I did not expect but really appreciated. 

How has your study abroad experience benefited you? I have not only reached a new level of gratitude for what I have, but the trip has made me more aware of my purchases and how I am spending my money. Going there made me want to be more aware of what I am investing my money into and the chain effect of my spending.

What is the biggest life lesson you learned while studying abroad? In general, not only in coffee now, I realize that there is someone out there who is working for everything that I am buying. As consumers whenever we purchase anything we have to realize that we are investing in something that could be extremely negative, that could be life-threatening to the person making that good, or could be positive and establishing their future and building community development; which is why we need to be educated consumers. 

IMG_58521505170_782655738437087_3204329266558938172_n What were some fun things you did during your time abroad? I climbed up a volcano and then sled down it (halfway on the board and halfway on my face – but it was fun!). In general we did a lot of fun hikes and we played games and painted a mural in a human trafficking shelter for children. We played volleyball and soccer with them. Working with the kids was not only fun, but impacting as well. 

What advice would you give to others who are thinking of studying abroad? Just do it! You learn not only a lot about another country, but a lot about yourself as well. It opens up your mind to a whole new horizon. There’s a whole world out there and some people don’t even realize it.

Where else would you like to travel to one day? Everywhere! I would like to go somewhere in Asia, I would love to go to Japan one day. I definitely want to keep exploring South and Central America and the Caribbean as well. 

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Let’s Talk about Injustice (Better)

We can do better.

We can do better.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are my own and do not represent the Bridgewater State University Honors Program as a whole.

About two weeks before winter break, I was sitting on the couch in the Office of Institutional Diversity scrolling through a particularly unpleasant Yik Yak feed. Between the usual lamenting of parking logistics and appeals for Netflix watching buddies, my feed was dominated with comments such as “can we stop talking about race?” “I’m not gonna bandwagon on hippie issues” and the intentionally dismissive #whitelivesmatter hashtag in response to the murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the protesting that followed. I thought, “here is one of the most popular and telling visuals of our collective student consciousness, and it’s littered with disheartening, dismissive commentary. What kind of message does this send about our campus culture and students’ attitude towards issues of injustice?

In that moment, not a particularly good one.

A medium like Yik Yak, I understand, is not wholly or perfectly representative of the BSU student body. (And, due to its anonymous nature, it can be easily overrun by trolls.) However, it was a sharp reminder of the viewpoints that exist outside the comparatively tolerant circle I’ve built myself on campus and the implications they have on student life at BSU. If it serves to legitimize my outrage, I am hardly the first to see posts to the app as symptomatic of a larger problem. As Dr. Judith Willison told me in the office that day, “this tells us what kind of work we have left to do.”

As a student with a vested interest in how social issues are addressed and understood at my school, I take cues from an array of sources to gauge students’ opinions on current events. I operate on the premise that BSU works better when students have a comprehensive, working knowledge of social justice and the capacity to articulate their views. As an honors student, I recognize that social justice is both a cornerstone of the program and a sizable piece of my heart and brain. It is my wish that within the Honors Program and beyond, BSU becomes a more welcoming place to discuss polarizing issues. In the coming months I hope to post more social justice oriented pieces to facilitate productive dialogue.

Until then,

M.S.

Upcoming Honors Student Congress Event: Making the Grade in Kenya Raffle and Dinner

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The Honors Student Congress, a community of engaged scholars committed to developing leaders with worldly vision, is proud to be hosting “Making the Grade in Kenya,” a fundraising dinner to benefit a female student, Hannah, at the Beverly School of Kenya. The goal of this dinner is to raise a $2,000 scholarship that will cover Hannah’s room and board and other educational costs for a year.

The dinner will take place on Tuesday, February 24th, in the RCC Large Ballroom. Starting at 6:00 PM a silent auction will take place. All sales of these auction items will go towards the $2,000 fundraising goal. Many great items will be auctioned off including Maroon 5 concert tickets, Red Sox tickets, Hy-line tickets, and more! There will also be a 50/50 raffle taking place!

Immediately following the silent auction, dinner will be served along with a presentation from representatives of the Beverly School of Kenya to provide information about the school and share Hannah’s story.

Don’t miss this chance to help provide Hannah with an education! We hope to see you all there on Tuesday, February 24th in the RCC Large Ballroom beginning at 6:00 PM.

Please RSVP to Amy Couto at amy.couto@bridgew.edu or (508) 531-1378 by February 13th.

-K. A.

Welcome Back; Tips for a Happier Healthier You!

Hi everyone, below are some tips to help you have a healthier and happier lifestyle as the semester begins! These tips were found on Happier which is a gratitude journal app backed up with research, and a very positive community to cheer on your happy moments. Also as a Happier user myself I can say that using these tips have helped me manage stress, and overall shift my perspective leading me to a more positive life outlook. Here are the tips,

  1. Gratitude – Take time today to be grateful for something in your life, it can be anything from enjoying the weather to being grateful for having your favorite coffee this morning.
  2. Close relationships – Making time for family and friends even with our busy schedules is important, here’s a challenge try and reconnect with an old friend this week!
  3. Savoring – Be in the moment; let your mind and body be present in something that you do today, just enjoy a part of your day.
  4. Learning new things Try to continuously learn new things big or small, it could even be something as simple as taking a different route home than you usually do or trying a new exercise routine.
  5. Get Moving – There has been research that shows that 20 minutes a day of some kind of exercise produces feelings of happiness and reduces stress, try and do this daily even if it’s just a walk around campus.
  6. Acts of Kindness – When you do acts of kindness for others you receive the greatest benefits, try an act of kindness today. It can be something small such as holding the door open for someone or texting someone and wishing them a good day. When you intentionally do acts of kindness it fills your life with more joy. The important thing though is try and remove any expectations of how the other person will feel.
  7. Mindfulness – Disconnect from the world around you for a bit and just be, try and do this today for five minutes. Disconnect from all electronics and just be, do this right where you are, how you are, and be at peace with whatever your situation might be for those moments, that is mindfulness.

According to Happier you can’t chase a state of happiness or you’ll be miserable, but if you try these habits daily and change your perspective you can find more joy in life. When you find more joy in life you can find balance, which can help you manage stress and many other things.

I hope you find these tips helpful like I did, and hopefully this will help you have a less stressed, happier and healthy start to a new semester! For more information on any of these tips feel free to download Happier on the app store! Best of luck in the New Year!

– C.A

Faces of Scott: The First Installment

After Cristy’s faces of Weygand post, I decided to interview some of my friends in the underclassmen honors RLC in Scott. Enjoy!

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Abbie Levinson

Freshman/2018

What do you like most about living in the Honors RLC?

I love living in a community with academically driven students, being able to spend homework and study time together, and sharing advice on how to get the most out of our freshman year.

Favorite part of the Honors Program?

Early registration, of course! Even if the Wi-Fi did kick me off a few times…

Any funny memories from your first semester in Scott? My favorite memories would have to include the spam and egg breakfasts, movie marathons, and ping pong tournaments that would last until 1 in the morning.

Steven MargalettaSteve M

Freshman/2018

What do you like most about living in/ the Honors RLC?

I really like the small community that we have formed over the course of the year

Favorite part of the Honors Program?

Early registration is very beneficial for the future of my education, plus just being in the RLC makes me feel better because I’m surrounded by like minded people

-M.S.