One of MCLA's very active students, Katie Collins '11 of Grafton, Mass., was named the Executive Board Member of the Month for November for both the Northeast region and nationally, by the National Association of College and University Resident Halls (NACURH).
Recognized for her work on a national service project to benefit soldiers overseas, Operation Christmas Cards, Collins said she was just being herself.
"I put in the amount of work that I do for any project and group that I believe in. Other people saw it and felt it deserved recognition," she said.
"It's an awesome feeling knowing that students from around the country voted for me to receive this award and it definitely shows that MCLA has a strong leadership component when it comes to educating our students. Not every school has the opportunity to have a student win this award," Collins said.
A biology major with a chemistry minor, Collins also serves as the Hoosac Harbor residence area's student manager, has been the yearbook editor for the past two years, is the vice president of the Class of 2011, served as a peer advisor for three years, was a Student Government Association (SGA) senator for two years and is a parliamentarian this year. A member of the Student Activities Council since she arrived on campus, she also served as the Biology Club's treasurer for two years, has been on the Advisory Board all four years and founded Colleges Against Cancer.
In addition, for the past three years, Collins has participated in State House Day, an annual event where students speak to Massachusetts legislators on behalf of the public institution they attend. She hopes to attend this year, as well.
"It is so important to put a face on public higher education," Collins said. "I've made great connections and relationships through the State House day visits, not only with my representation from back home but also with those who represent Berkshire County. "
According to Collins, her involvement in the SGA and NRHH has been particularly rewarding.
"Through SGA, my education was enhanced by learning about everything that goes into it. I had the chance to sit on the Academic Policy and Curriculum committees during my time in the organization and it definitely gives you a different sense of appreciation for what it takes to put your education together," she explained.
"With NRHH, I was able to learn valuable skills that helped my education, especially with areas such as time management and general interpersonal skills. From working within this organization, I was able to attend workshops both on campus and at conferences that helped me hone these skills and focus as a student," Collins said.
Both experiences will help her in a future career, she said. "Whether I go down the path of working in higher education or continue my education in the sciences, both of these have given me the opportunity to gain experience and education in an area that not every student gets to witness."
What's next for Collins? She is applying to graduate programs in the fields of cancer research and genetics, and also to graduate programs in high education administration and student affairs.
"MCLA helped open my eyes to there being more than the standard choices in education. When it comes down to it, your education is what you make it," Collins said. "MCLA's size made is easy for me to get involved right from the get-go, and it set me up for a great adventure for the rest of the years."