Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On the Campaign Trail: Merrimack Graduate Makes Local Impact

By Katie Thompson
Gordon College News Service
May 1, 2012
(This story appeared Sunday, May 13, 2012, on page 1 of the print edition and online of the Boston Globe North section.)

NORTH ANDOVER— When MaryRose Mazzola was in eighth grade, her parents drove her to Howard Dean’s presidential campaign rallies and around town to put up signs. But the Mazzolas weren’t campaigning for Dean; their 14-year old daughter was.

Now 21, Mazzola of Chelmsford, Mass., has been working for political campaigns ever since. Graduating May 20 from Merrimack College, she has deferred her acceptance to a master’s program at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Why? So she can continue as campaign manager for State Senator Barry Finegold’s (D-Andover) re-election bid in November, a role she’s juggled with a full time class load since March.

“It’s a rare and invaluable opportunity,” Mazzola said. “I definitely wanted to take advantage of it with this gift Senator Finegold has given me.”

In a leadership position often reserved for staffers twice her age, Mazzola has spent her final spring semester working 35-40 hours a week on Finegold’s campaign while completing her course requirements. And as graduation celebrations end, she’ll continue to recruit volunteers, collect signatures, and plan events and community outreach opportunities for the senator.

Mazzola said her inspiration for public service came from her grandfather, William Hogan, former chancellor of UMass-Lowell who helped to revitalize the city during his 25-year tenure.

“The big strides that Lowell saw in the 1990s were my first hand experience of seeing state and local politics working,” she said.

She was hooked from then on. After Dean’s campaign, she went on to hold signs, make phone calls and report to campaign field directors from voting polls for U.S. Sen. John Kerry, Gov. Deval Patrick, Rep. Niki Tsongas and President Barack Obama in their respective elections.

Salem State Graduate Works for Change at Home and Abroad

By Kate Goodale
Gordon College News Service
May 1, 2012
(This story appeared Sunday, May 13, 2012, on page 7 in the print and online edition of the Boston Globe North section.)

SALEM—As many political science students focus on the country’s presidential campaigns, Kelsey Utne is looking overseas. After graduating from Salem State University (SSU) May 19, Utne, a political science, history and economics triple major, will spend her summer studying Hindi in India through a Critical Language Scholarship, a fully funded language immersion program supported by the Department of State.

For Utne, 26, of Marblehead, global issues are a natural extension of her political interests. A member of Salem State University’s Honors Program, Utne took a few years off before entering college. As a result, she dove into campus life with a candidate’s determination. This year, she is the current president of SSU’s Political Science Academy (PSA), a club that promotes international and domestic political awareness through panel discussions and voter registration drives. She helped form SSU’s first chapter of Amnesty International, an organization that fights social injustices worldwide.  And last month, Utne even launched a “Congress to Campus” event where retired Congress members visited campus for a forum, open to both local high school and Salem State students.

“Being older than most students graduating in my class means I approach things differently,” Utne said. “If I’m studying on a Friday night, or going to bed when my friends are ready to go out, I’m okay with that.”

Though she only recently focused her studies on Southern Asian politics, Utne says her international interest began in fourth grade when she read a book called, Zlata’s Diary. In it, a young girl describes the hardships she faced while growing up in the midst of the Bosnian war.

“The girl I was reading about was around the same age I was at the time,” Utne said. “I was struck by the idea that we have no say in the world we grow up in.”

From that point on, her global passions grew. While attending Marblehead High School, she participated in the Model United Nations, an event where students simulate the debates and decisions of UN ambassadors. One of Utne’s teachers there, Michael Horgan, challenged her to confront the wrongs she saw in the world.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Is a College Education worth it?

By Katie Thompson
May 9, 2012
Gordon College News Service 
(This opinion piece was published in May 15, 2012, in the Boston Globe, Beverly site, and Tuesday, May 29, 2012, in the print and online editions of the Gloucester Times.)

A recent story by the Associated Press* reported that 1 in 2 new college graduates is jobless or underemployed. As a senior preparing to graduate this month, it’s an understatement to say this is concerning. Did I just waste four years and an exorbitant amount of money for nothing?

The article seems to say yes, and it only got worse when I read that while the science and health fields are flourishing, the arts and humanities are struggling. As a communication arts major, those odds aren’t in my favor either.  The story cited a report that said only three of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of job openings by 2020 will require a bachelor’s degree to fill the position. Most openings were in professions like retail sales, fast food and truck driving.

Congratulations to me, I now own an approximately $150,000 diploma that will get me a job somewhere I could’ve worked without one.

But fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I don’t feel as cynical about the situation as others might. For one thing, I don’t doubt that I’ll eventually find a job that I love. Secondly, I would argue that my college education was worth it even if it doesn’t get me the career it “should” right away.

I can hear the collective sigh of parents and those older than me who are thinking that I’m being unrealistic. “Wait until the bills start piling up and you won’t feel the same,” they might say. Maybe that’s true, and maybe I’m being na├»ve, but I’ve learned more life lessons during my four years on a college campus than I probably would have anywhere else.