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LEAD Academy helps freshman's transition

10/09/2013

Arts management major Brianna McDermott '17 of Haverhill, Mass., got a jump start on her MCLA education from attending the College's LEAD (Leadership in Education, Action and Development) Academy this summer.

A five-day program held in August, LEAD Academy prepares incoming MCLA freshmen to excel in college, and teaches them how to distinguish themselves as leaders - both on campus and throughout the community through volunteer service.

In addition to making friends with other freshmen, participants get to know MCLA's student leaders and staff, and become familiar with the campus and the surrounding Berkshires.

"I really enjoyed the team-building activities, especially the ROPES course," McDermott said of her LEAD Academy experience. "These things pushed me right out of my comfort zone, but in the best possible way. I made so many friends and opened up to people in such a short amount of time. I had previously been extremely nervous about college and the process of making friends, and the LEAD program gave me the little push I needed to get started.

"LEAD Academy not only prepared me academically, but also emotionally and mentally. I felt so much more ready for college after the program," she said.

McDermott decided to attend MCLA because of the culturally rich opportunities the Berkshires provide her as an arts management major.

"I knew that I'd have a more full experience here than at many other colleges for my field," she explained. "Originally, I hated the idea of a small school; however, now that I'm here, I love the small size. I am a name and not a number, and it's so much easier to get opportunities here."

McDermott has had a passion for theater since she was in the sixth grade. However, she discovered that she prefers to work behind the scenes, instead of on the stage.

"I knew that I wanted to be around performance all my life, but that the pressure of the stage would get to me. I turned to the next viable option for myself, which is producing or managing performance. That way, I could be around theater, but do what I know I'm good at, which is being in charge," she explained.

McDermott's favorite class this fall is "Intro to Arts Management."

"I love that it's only my first semester and I'm already being thrown into classes regarding my major," she said. "Aside from classes, I recently auditioned for Harlequin theater club and received parts in four numbers for the musical revue. I also joined the Student Activities Council (SAC), Admissions Volunteers, Colleges against Cancer, and the Good Vibes yoga club. I am really starting to love it here!"

When she's not in class or attending a club meeting, McDermott enjoys hanging out at her residence hall - Hoosac Hall.

"There are always people around to talk to and hang out with," she explained. "I'm in my dorm a lot, but so are some of my floor mates, making homework a lot less painful and downtime more fun. I love the social aspect and, honestly, it is one of the main things that gets me through the day. It is essential to have some good friends to rely on and confide in, especially with such a big transition."

McDermott recommends MCLA to prospective students.

"From day one I have been welcomed as a member of this community, and in such a short amount of time I'm already beginning to feel at home. This area provides so many opportunities for internships and careers, especially if you're someone who is really artsy, or even if you're someone who is not. I love it here and you will easily feel like part of a family. Come to MCLA!"