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English majors: 'There are so many opportunities'

12/26/2013

When she's not at MCLA, English major Abby Egan '14 of Quincy, Mass., often can be found motivating local high school students who are ready to give up on school to succeed.

As a coordinator through MCLA's Center for Service for "E3" - which stands for effort, employability and essential skills and knowledge - Egan's task is to bring students to MCLA so they can experience higher education first hand.

"We initially wanted to aim it at teaching the students the benefit of higher education, but the information we were giving them didn't seem to really stick," Egan said. "I shifted my aim toward more of a skill building/community service program instead of focusing on just higher education. That seems to have made all the difference."

Every other week, Egan does community service activities with these students. One such project involved making "memory boxes" for 10 residents of the nearby Brien Center, who suffer from Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

"The students all picked a name and decorated the shoe boxes with the theme the patient had requested," she explained. "We had boxes decorated with guitars, Barbie dolls, jewelry, horses, etc. The idea behind memory boxes is that when a patient is having trouble remembering something, they can use their memory box to jog their memory. It allows family members to have easier conversations and takes the frustration away when the patient is having a really hard time holding onto their memories."

Egan continued, "Seeing the E3 students get inspired by the memory box project was probably the most rewarding feeling I've ever received. It let me know that what I am doing through the E3 program is making a difference and broadening their minds to think about others around them."

One of the greatest things she's learned at MCLA is that the campus is very open to new ideas. "You can make anything possible," Egan said. "This is a place where you can make something for yourself."

For example, this past summer she served an internship with Suffolk University's communications department. "Never before had I been interested in advertising or marketing or social media, but I caught the bug."

Upon returning to MCLA, she discussed her interest in developing an Instagram account for the College with the web communications manager, who helped her to create a position to accomplish that goal.

"Today, I am the official social media photographer, specializing in Instagram. I'm not sure if I would have been able to create such a position at another school. Thanks to MCLA's open mind, I was able to pitch my idea as an equal member of our community. Without the mentality that a student can be self-made, here at MCLA, I wouldn't have my job as a photographer."

Once she completes her degree, Egan plans to find a job in marketing and social media. But she also aims to one day write the next "great American novel."

"This school challenges its students to be driven and go after what they want. If you want to sit in your dorm room twiddling your thumbs, go ahead. You could do that at any college. But here at MCLA, there are so many opportunities just waiting to be experienced on this campus. All you need is the guts to go out and get them."