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Nichols Institute for Women’s Leadership Program Empowers Female High School Students


DUDLEY, Mass.—On Oct. 26, the Nichols College Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) hosted an event in collaboration with Webster’s Bartlett High School—part of a bi-annual program called the College Connection. Through this program, Bartlett girls in their junior year are invited to the Nichols campus on Center Road to spend a day surrounded by positive influences and learn about the educational opportunities available to them. 

College Connection is made possible by a grant from the American Association of University Women. This year’s was the third College Connection event to take place. A whole day twice a year, during the spring and fall, is dedicated to hosting the Bartlett students for multiple activities at Nichols.  

The idea for the program was proposed in early 2015 by members of the IWL Student Advisory Panel who felt they gained so many skills from the Nichols Professional Development Seminars (PDS) that they believed it would be beneficial to high school students to enjoy a similar experience. 

The idea grew and expanded from a mock PDS class to a full-fledged program, developed to support and encourage young high school girls to pursue realistic but unlimited goals. The IWL will work with the students in this series of activities while enforcing the message that there are people and resources available, both at Nichols and beyond high school, to help and support the students with their goals and dreams. 

Four of last year’s participating juniors returned Oct. 26 to help the current juniors, guiding them through the day’s events and serving as their first mentors. 

Jean Beaupré, faculty director for the IWL and Nichols professor of marketing and business communication, shared her excitement for the event.  

“Our students gain just as much from this experience as the Bartlett students do,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be working with the Bartlett team on this, and they are just as excited as we are.” 

Bartlett Assistant Principal Rebecca Czernicki and guidance counselors Kim Dobro and Christopher Shen attended the October event, joined by Professor Beaupré and IWL senior interns Olivia Barrett, Alexandra Vojtila, and Amanda Newman, who are majoring in human resources, marketing, and management, respectively.  

Activities that day included learning about the opportunities open to the students, and then planning for them. Students were given the chance to learn networking skills and how to set goals. One of their exercises consisted of developing an elevator pitch and delivering it to a panel of Nichols faculty from whom they received constructive feedback. 

“The Nichols students helping at the event have the opportunity to share what they have learned in their PDS and leaderships classes with their younger counterparts,” said Barrett. “Both the Nichols students and Bartlett senior mentors have a chance to become the teacher and pass on the skills and training they have received to the newest participants.”  

Megan Fields ’17 is a Nichols senior marketing major and psychology minor and interns for the College’s Office of Marketing and Communications.