Have you met… Mike Bergeron?

“Have you met” is a bi-monthly get-to-know-you interview with a different PSG employee with the goal of showing the public just “who” PSG is!

Have you met… Mike Bergeron?

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  1. Give us the rundown – where were you before you came to PSG and tell us about what you’re doing now.

I have been a recruiter since graduating college. I was working at a Boston-based RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) provider. An RPO is basically a third party recruitment team that companies can outsource their recruitment needs to.  I worked on many different Fortune 500 clients while I was there. If we want to go back even further back, my first job was gutting fish on Cape Cod!

Currently a Senior Staffing Manager at PSG. I work with one primary investment client on various types of financial, operational, and investment roles.

 

  1. What do you find to be the most challenging piece of the work you’re doing?

Finding the perfect blend of what the candidate and the client are looking for. Being a recruiter is kind of like being a matchmaker. Both parties need to able to provide what the other is looking for and be a personality match. Some matches are much more difficult than others!

 

  1. What motivates you to do your best work every day?

Being a recruiter means you can change someone’s life! Getting a candidate that offer in time to make their next mortgage payment or helping them launch their career in the field of their choice feels amazing. To paraphrase Hall and Oates, we make dreams come true!

 

  1. What was your dream job when you were a kid?

An archaeologist. I was always in the backyard with a plastic shovel, digging for dinosaur bones. I eventually grew out of it. After watching Ross in Friends, I have no regrets.

 

  1. What is the one piece of career advice you received growing up that you swear by?

During the application process, you’re going to face rejection. Sometimes is will feel like an insurmountable amount of rejection. Just keep your head up and get as much interview feedback as you can. Get better and nail the next interview!

 

  1. Any special talents?

Hmmmmm…I already mentioned the fish gutting. I love karaoke and acting as well. Both served me well in getting over nervousness on the phone and in being loud in general.

 

  1. All-time favorite meal? Like last meal ever meal!

Bacon cheeseburger, steak fries, Cape Cod Blonde Ale, and an Oreo milkshake for dessert. Maybe a side of bacon as well…

 

  1. What book are you reading? TV show you’re binge watching?

Book: I’m finally reading Dune by Frank Herbert. There’s a movie coming out in 2020 of it and I need to read the book first. I’d also recommend any true nerd read Ready Player One  by Ernest Cline before seeing the movie version. The book is vastly superior.

TV: I’m just starting Amazon’s new show The Boys. It’s a violent take on the collateral damage of superheroes, unchecked power, and pop culture fatigue. All up my alley!

Have you met.. Christine Cuddemi?

“Have you met” is a bi-monthly get-to-know-you interview with a different PSG employee with the goal of showing the public just “who” PSG is!

Christine2

Have you met… Christine Cuddemi?

 

  1. Give us the rundown – where were you before you came to PSG and tell us about what you’re doing now.

I have a bit of a curved path for my career. After graduation, I worked in higher education. Then I switched back to science/healthcare so before PSG, I worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at a major Boston hospital. I had wanted to change careers and industry for a bit, so I reached out to PSG for help. They discussed with me that everything I was looking for within higher education, I could find in staffing!

I am now on the Central Interviewing team, where I get to meet all kinds of people and help them in their job search. I love it!

 

  1. What do you find to be the most challenging piece of the work you’re doing?

The most challenging piece of this job is not being able to connect with a candidate. PSG has many resources and opportunities to help, sometimes I can reach out and offer all these resources but not everyone is as receptive to that help. But I’ll keep trying regardless J

 

  1. What motivates you to do your best work every day?

When I can help one of my candidates gain back their confidence! I understand how frustrating the job search can be (I was in it not too long ago!) and I also know the benefits that PSG can offer. When I can help a candidate find the confidence and motivation to continue their search and find that right fit, it is a win for me.

 

  1. What was your dream job when you were a kid?

Funny story: I dreamed of working in an office! Not a specific job though. I really liked visiting my Dad at work because I had my own desk set up and would pretend to solve “problems” on the computer!

 

  1. What is the one piece of career advice you received growing up that you swear by?

Don’t settle for something that you are not passionate about. My parents always support me and have told me to “follow my gut”, even if that means uprooting the path you thought  you were on. It is ok to change your mind, just push to achieve what you are passionate about, which may take a few unplanned turns to find.

 

  1. Any special talents?

No talents for me! I did play the flute for 10 years, so that’s pretty cool!

But one of my “talents” is that I can talk to or connect with almost anyone, which I take into my passion for volunteering.

 

  1. All-time favorite meal? Like last meal ever meal!

Pasta! I am a true Italian and carb lover

 

  1. What book are you reading? TV show you’re currently binge watching?

Current book: A Spark of Light – Jodi Picoult (my favorite author!).

TV Show: I have so many! Current obsessions: Orange is the New Black, Queer Eye, American Ninja Warrior.

Decoding the Dress Code

“Decoding the Dress Code”

Ok – You’ve nailed the interview and you’ve landed your dream job.

You want to make a good impression, but you’re a little bit (ok a lot a bit) lost when it comes to figuring out what dress codes mean in 2019.

Fear not!  We’re going to take a look at the different dress codes and discuss sure fire ways to make a great impression in your first week, first month, and your first year!

Business Formal

Ok, Business Formal is more or less the “black tie” of business attire.  Seen in very corporate environments, this attire will typically be reserved for high level meetings with executives or clients.  Here is what you need to know on this one:

  • Dark Full Suit
  • Neutral undershirt
  • Understated accessories, makeup, and hair
  • Hosiery if wearing something like a dress or skirt
  • Polished neutral colored dress shoes (closed toe)

Business Professional

While Business Formal will be seen more so for client meetings, Business Professional would be the typical “every day” dress code for a corporate office environment.  A full suit will still be required, but with more opportunity to include color or pattern.  For example – you may opt to wear a window pane checkered button up vs. the ultra-conservative crisp white button up.

  • Dark Full suit
  • Undershirt (can include subtle pattern or color)
  • Simple accessories
  • Hosiery if wearing something like a dress or skirt
  • Polished neutral colored dress shoes (peep toe acceptable)

Business Casual

You will see the dress code frequently in offices Today.  While a professional look is still required here, a suit is not!  You should feel comfortable wearing things like separates, but should stay away from true casual wear like jeans.

  • Khakis, dress slacks, dress, or skirt
  • Blazer (optional)
  • Long sleeved button up or blouse, sweater/cardigan (can include subtle pattern or color)
  • Closed toe, or peep toe shoes (no sneakers)

Smart Business Casual

Still in the same category of Business Casual, “Smart” Business Casual allows for you to let your creativity and personality shine through a bit more.  This will offer the opportunity to mix in a printed blazer vs. the traditional black, or maybe a printed tie!

  • Khakis, dress slacks
  • Patterned/colorful top or blazer
  • Statement accessories
  • Closed toe, or peep toes shoes (still no sneakers)

Smart Casual/Dressy Casual

This will be very similar style wise to Smart Business Casual, but allows for even MORE flexibility – and yes, that means JEANS!

  • Jeans OK (dark in color – avoid light washes, distressed denim)
  • Patterned/colorful top or blazer
  • Foot wear can vary – best to keep it to closed toe to start!

Now that we’ve broken down the dress codes, let’s talk tips and tricks.

  1. Dress like your boss.
  • When you start a new job, you want to air on the side of caution with what you wear. A great place to take your cues from would be to model what you wear after what your boss wears.
  1. Understand your department/role.
  • Are you in a client facing role? Working within the creative department? Maybe a back office accounting role? This can help shape what your daily attire should be. A Sales Executive will likely wear a suit daily or make sure to have a suit jacket handy, while an accounting professional may opt for more business casual attire.
  1. Understand the industry.
  • Certain industries will carry with them different standards. A tech startup will likely offer a much more flexible dress code than a legal office.  Do your research!
  1. No matter your dress code – be neat, clean, and tidy
  • Even if your dress code is on the more casual side, you should always make sure that your look is well thought out and put together. Iron that shirt!  Shine those shoes!  Tuck in that blouse!

P.S – You can check out our story over on Instagram to get a look at real life examples of some of the above! Here’s a quick look.

 

4 Steps to Behavioral Interviewing

4 Steps to Behavioral Interviewing

There’s a saying I remember from my time as a writing student that I know made many of my classmates groan – “show don’t tell.” For example, “don’t tell us its cold outside, show us!” or “don’t tell us this character is mad, show us.”

While this concept seemed unimportant to a class of elementary school kids who just wanted to go outside for recess, “show don’t tell” actually has an important lesson to teach us about how we can conduct interviews that are illustrative, effective and fair.

As a hiring manager, you want to make sure you’re hiring the most qualified candidate for the job. However, it can be hard to gauge a candidate’s potential job performance when your interview questions get responses that don’t really get to the meat of what a candidate can or can’t do, knows or doesn’t know, or that give you the feeling they’re just giving you the answer they think you want to hear. When you want to dig deep into a candidate’s experience, asking behavioral interviewing questions can get you there.

What’s behavioral interviewing you ask? Great question! Behavioral interviewing – considered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to be the most effective interviewing strategy – is a strategy that employs asking questions that prompt a candidate to give direct examples of skills and experiences that will provide you with a better idea of how they will react to potential situations they might face on the job.

For example, if being able to use sound business judgment while working independently is super, super, SUPER critical to your position, having candidates tell you “I have good business judgment, and I’m independent” likely doesn’t give you everything you need to determine if they truly have these crucial skills. Instead, go for a question like, “Tell me about a time you needed to make a time-sensitive decision, and your manager was unavailable for consultation. What did you do, how did you come to that conclusion and what was the outcome?” A question like this will prompt the candidate to give you an example that will help you evaluate whether they have the skills and experience to deal with situations that may arise in the position. Plus, it will help you gauge whether or not their response to the situation fits what you’re looking for in your future employee – you want to make sure they’re a culture fit, too!

You might be saying “this behavioral interviewing sounds great, but I’m not sure how to get started – I’ve already got so many things on my plate!” Fear not – I have laid out some steps below, with some help from the good ol’ SHRM, to help you get you started.

  1. Define the critical competencies for the position: Between you and your selected interview team, come up with a list of the most important skills, behaviors or specific knowledge that will be crucial for success in the position. You’ll likely take these from the job description. If you can, keep the number of competencies between five and ten to allow for a more in-depth interview process around these competencies. Additionally, the quicker you can get your answers to the most pressing questions, the faster you can turn around a potential hiring decision and score that top candidate.
  2. Design behavioral interview questions based on these competencies: Using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Results), come up with interview questions that will prompt candidates to respond with a situation they faced and the task they needed to complete, what action they took and what results came out of it.
  3. Create a simple rating scale: Whether it’s “1-5,” “exceeds expectations to beneath expectations,” create a rating scale that will allow your team to rate the candidate against the agreed-upon competencies. This rating scale will help you compare candidates easily and also potentially cut down on potential bias as each candidate is being evaluated based on the same set of competencies and questions.
  4. Assign competencies to interviewers that best exemplify them: So you aren’t having the candidate sit through the same interview multiple times, assign specific skill sets to interviewers that best exemplify them on the job. They’ll be responsible for asking those behavioral interviewing questions relevant to their competency to gauge whether or not this candidate fits the bill. Ensure that you are keeping your interview panel and questions consistent across candidates to allow for a more direct comparison.
  5. Interview away!

For your next open position, take some stress out of finding your next hire and employ behavioral interviewing tactics – get your candidates to show you what they can do so you can be confident that your next hire is the right one!

Blog inspiration and informational source:  Behavioral Interview Guide: Early Career Job Candidates from SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management)

caroline

PSG and the Candidate Experience

PSG and the Candidate Experience

It was May of 2018 and I was stuck.

My supposed “dream job” had not panned out, and I found myself sitting at my kitchen table, large iced coffee in hand, skimming through job posting after job posting – a familiar place for a lot of folks out there.

I came across the website for Professional Staffing Group (PSG). Since I wasn’t looking to dive headfirst into a new role without truly understanding what it entailed, and I felt like my job search was going nowhere fast, I liked the idea of exploring temporary work. Being someone who asks a zillion questions, though, I knew I needed to learn more.

So, I submitted a job app assuming it would get sucked into the black hole job apps went to die (you can tell I wasn’t really setting my hopes that high).  I was surprised when PSG sent back a response THAT DAY to set up a time to meet me via video interview (score).  When the morning of my interview came (got to choose the time and day which was a plus), I woke up bright and early, jogged to the corner to grab iced coffee #1 (can you tell I like iced coffee?) and returned home to throw on my most professional little black dress and blazer. I ditched the heels though, since I knew there was going to be much more flexibility interviewing over video – what’s better than networking from your living room in slippers at a time that works with your schedule?

I connected to ZOOM, which was much easier to get on than I had expected, around ten minutes prior to my interview (current candidates take note).  I started to panic…

How would this go?

Just as I was in the midst of a potential mental crisis and practicing my enunciation techniques (red leather, yellow leather, toy boat, toy boat), the PSG recruiter connected to the video on the other end.

There was an energy that reached all the way through the screen!  The recruiter introduced themselves, and we connected immediately. They were friendly, knowledgeable, answered all of my queries, laughed off our one minor technical difficulty and knew just the right questions to ask to get to know my experience and what I was looking to do next. This is hard to do, especially when you’re talking to someone who is just starting out in the working world, with not a single clue what the future holds! They were also genuinely interested and invested in my career and assured me that PSG would be there for me to help any way they could.

Over the next few weeks I was in constant contact with PSG, reviewing new job descriptions and opportunities with engaging and thoughtful recruiters, getting assistance with my resume and cover letter, discussing upcoming interviews in prep calls, getting feedback and, to everyone’s surprise, actually ENJOYING my job search.

If you find yourself stuck like I was a little over a year ago, take a page from the book of someone who has absolutely, totally been there – connect with PSG. You’ll find your next position in no time, and I know it will be a great one!

Caroline Fay is a former PSG candidate turned PSG employee and was eager to tell her story!

caroline

Nail Interview Attire – No Matter Your Budget!

Nail Interview Attire – No Matter Your Budget!

You have your first round interview with your dream company this week.

You’ve done your research, you’ve prepped, and you have your questions ready to go.  What’s left to consider?

That’s right – what you’re wearing.

Interview attire can be one of the most stressful aspects of an interview.  Why? It’s expensive!  You want to look like the sharp professional that you are, but you don’t want to spend your future paycheck to get there.

Let’s take the pain, stress, and anxiety out of this for you.  PSG has pulled together the attire you need for an interview, and has taken into consideration that not everyone’s budget is the same.  Scroll down to check out what we found to help you look your best without spending an arm and a leg!

Tips:

  • If you’re starting from scratch stick with classic items from affordable brands (like H&M or Primark) in neutral colors.  While these items may not last you for years to come, they’ll do the trick in a pinch!
  • Think ahead, schedule some time, and shops SALES.  This is a great way to stay within your budget and snag a quality item for your interview.  Planning ahead is key for this as some digging may be involved.
  • Invest in items that will get more wear – a good pair of professional shoes, or a crisp well made button up will be worth the extra $$ if you plan to wear them regularly.
  • Go the extra mile – put some money aside for dry cleaning and tailoring.  A well fitting, freshly laundered suit shows that you took the time to prepare.
  • Do your research BEFORE you buy that new suit.  How do folks in that office dress? A good rule to follow is to always dress “one level” up from whatever the standard dress code is.  For example – if you’re interviewing at a business casual office, you may want to come in wearing a suit.  Or maybe you’re interviewing at a very casual office (jeans is their normal dress) – you may want to arrive in more business casual attire (no suit, but a crisp shirt and pressed trousers/khakis).

outfit1Outfit2outfit3Outfit4

Stay Tuned!! Next week PSG will cover different dress codes and how to navigate them!

Job Postings and Gender Neutral Language

Job Postings and Gender Neutral Language

What is the purpose of a job posting? To attract candidates with a desirable skill set for a specific position, Right?

So why do so many companies overlook gender coding in their online job postings and job descriptions?  The answer is fairly simple:  Folks may not realize the impact the words they use have on their audience.

Everyone wants their advertisement to stand out from the rest, which is why we will see a number of ‘buzz’ words or phrases used (does the phrase ‘we are looking for a rock star’ make anyone else roll their eyes a little?).  Facts are that some words skew more masculine and some skew more feminine and that impacts who is applying to your job.

So what do we do?

  1. Educate yourself – What adjectives are more masculine vs. more feminine? What are their gender neutral alternatives?

As a quick example, we can explore one of the more commonly used adjectives – Bubbly – often times we’ll see this word in an advertisement for front desk personnel, administrative roles, or receptionist positions.  While we may use this word to attract someone who is outgoing the word itself sits on the more feminine side and may screen out those that don’t identify in that way.  Consider replacing the word all together with something more neutral.

  1. Review, change, re-post

It’s easy to make the right changes in your posts – especially with tools out there like the Gender Decoder for Job Ads.  This is my all-time favorite tool and I frequently double check what I’ve written to ensure that the post uses neutral language that will not unknowingly screen out qualified applicants.

  1. Make it part of your everyday

Last but not least – embrace gender neutral language in your everyday communication.  Using the ‘they, them, their’ pro-nouns when referring to someone (either in a written post or in conversation) keeps your language inclusive!  While some of these changes can be tricky, you are ultimately ensuring that every individual you interact with feels comfortable.

There is A LOT we as staffing professionals can do to weave this into our everyday (job postings, interviews, etc.).  This only scratches the surface, but is certainly a step in the right direction!

The Evolution of ‘Shirley’ – PSG’s Resume Robot

The Evolution of ‘Shirley’ – PSG’s Resume Robot

Technology has taken us to places we never thought we’d go before.

  • Real time health and wellness tracking? Check
  • A drone delivering your paper towels for that week? Double Check
  • Snapchat filter that turns you into a baby? Triple Check

So why did it take us till 2017 to leverage technology to do the tedious work for us?  We didn’t know where to start!

Once upon a time, one PSG team member was tasked with sitting in front of their computer, Outlook inbox open, poised and ready to qualify a resume as soon as it came in.  We figured out a while ago, that if we reached out to a qualified applicant in 5 minutes or less – we were (x) amount more likely to get that individual on the phone.  Of course – getting that person with the stellar resume to answer a call from an unfamiliar number is not always the easiest.  So we started emailing them.

As we took steps to modernize our recruiting process, we kept asking ourselves ‘there must be a better, faster way to qualify these resumes’.  We were having a valuable member of the PSG team spend countless hours staring at an inbox when they could be impacting other areas of the business, and while this is a crucial role we knew that there had to be a better, fast, more efficient way.

Here’s what we did:

  • We pulled together tens of thousands of resumes
  • We reviewed resumes of candidates successfully placed into opportunities with our clients
  • We pinpointed common keywords on those resumes, and fed them into our algorithm? (Think ‘administrative’ or ‘Microsoft Office’)

After that a dedicated team met daily to review the results.  How many resumes were qualified correctly? How many were missed? Why were they missed? What changes need to be made to push the qualified % up?

It took months of tweaking key words, working with the algorithm to make sure the right words were identified in the right spot, and A LOT of painstaking attention to detail.

But we got the robot to be 90% accurate in qualifying incoming resumes.

The best part? Since this is now out of the hands of a human, technology moves so much faster!  We went from scheduling one out of every 5 candidates, to one out of every 3! AMAZING!

3 Ways PSG Improved Candidate Response

When it comes to calling up candidates (let’s be real – even your family and friends), the odds of getting them on the first, second, or even third try is SLIM at best.  And why wouldn’t it be?  In this day and age, we have so many different avenues of communication that picking up an ‘out of the blue’ call just seems exhausting.

That’s why we changed EVERYTHING about how we approach connecting to our candidates in three steps.

  1. Email is great – texting is better

This was an easy suggestion to make, but came with a lot of “what if” statements.

“What if this is too much?”

 “What if response is negative?”

“What if we are over stepping our bounds?”

These are all valid questions, and it’s natural to be nervous about implementing something that we have never tried.  However, we were letting perceived fears get in the way of pushing forward with something new and ultimately successful.  Overall, we saw that we received over 80% of our responses from text message, while email trailed behind.

  1. Follow up, Follow up, Follow up

Texting was a little scary – this downright terrified some people.

The thought of sending multiple messages to individuals in a short period of time brought to mind that episode of The Office – with Ryan trying to convince his co-workers to invest in a new social media platform (WUPHF.com) that would send (at once) a Facebook message, a tweet, a text, an email, and a fax.  Hilarious as the episode was, Ryan’s service seemed a little like overkill.

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However there is a big difference between gentle follow up, and aggressive outreach.

We found that by sending non-responsive candidates a quick “Did you see this?” text after the initial message moved our response rate from 48% at the end of quarter 1 to 63% at the end of quarter 2, and rather than receiving the much feared “stop it!” text, we saw much more “thank you for the reminder” responses.

  1. Diligence in responding back

This one seems like a no brainer, but often times we are so wrapped up in getting the message out that we neglect to put the same care and attention into what we do when we DO get a response.  The speed in which you respond to an engage candidate matters more than any of the above which is why we adhere to a 5 minute response rule – and staff for it.

Anyone that responds to any kind of alert from PSG receives a response in less than 5 minutes to schedule next steps.  In doing this, we ensure that when we have someone’s attention – we keep it – providing a positive experience on both sides.

Annual NEHRA Gala Insights – an event close to our heart(s)!

Benjamin Disraeli famously said “The youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity”, and the young women that were recipients of the NEHRA scholarships are a testament to the immense potential that youth have to make the world a better place. I left the NEHRA gala feeling inspired by their stories, their passions, poise, and most importantly, by the invaluable work that they have been doing in their communities. At such a young age, each of them has such determination to affect positive change in the world by challenging stigmas, cultural norms, and oppressive systems that are impeding true socio-cultural progress. By advocating for the voiceless and going against the grain, they are making a statement that we can create a new reality in which everyone is represented and respected. Nayleth, Bergeline, and Shandira have taken the adversity that they have faced and used it as a motivational force behind their platforms, raising awareness on stigmas on mental health, racism and colorism, and LGBTQIA+ rights. They are living proof that there is no age too young to get involved and make an impact, and are a reminder that we all have a responsibility to step up and make strides to leave the world better than we found it. Everyone in attendance was moved by their stories as they spoke about the trials and tribulations that they have had to power through in life, exuding wisdom beyond their years.

 

Nayleth – Recipient of this year’s Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA Blue Beacon Scholarship

Nayleth is currently a senior at Newton South High School and is planning on attending Harvard University in the fall. 

Nayleth is a remarkable young woman who has left her mark on the Newton South community as well as in the community of Hyde Park, where she lives.   As a METCO student she learned to effectively balance her “two communities” helping to reach across cultural divides.  She has been a leader within the school as a member of the South Senate and the Student Advisory Council.   She has been recognized for her ability to communicate effectively, receiving several debate and speech awards.

Nayleth’s guidance counselor had this to say about her, “Nayleth is fearless in exploring opportunities.  She jumps in to her passions with enthusiasm and energy that is unparalleled.  She takes on leadership roles and works well with diverse groups of peers.”  Her leadership in school extends to her Boston community where she has led a Youth Community Organizing program at Sociedad Latina, where she helped to engage other youth in workshops on social issues.  In her own words she describes the culmination of her summer experience this way, “I was able to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones, with the understanding that we are not defined by others, but that we define ourselves”.

Within the Newton South community, Nayleth has been a leader and facilitator for the Courageous Conversations on Race program.  The program is designed to improve race relations at the school by giving students the tools to have civil conversations about race and identity.  Most recently she engaged students who were struggling with the concept of white privilege.  She was able to share her own experiences as a student of color at the school.  But more importantly she was able to listen respectfully to their dialogue and guide it to a better place.

She has discovered that “living in two worlds” has allowed her to more deeply understand who she is and who she will be.  “She knows that she is valuable bridge between peoples and cities and cultures.”  She ended her essay with an apt quote from Walt Whitman, “Do I contradict myself?  Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

 

Bergeline – Recipient of this year’s Gaucher and Associates Scholarship

 

Bergeline is currently a senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy and is hoping to attend Georgetown University in the Fall. 

Bergeline is an outstanding student and an emerging activist.  She can already see herself running for public office – becoming a voice for change and justice.  She pursued a role in student government so that she could be a voice for students who have not yet found their voice.  She is a born champion and a committed advocate.  When the issue of a ban on head scarves came up she jumped into action – she lead a social media campaign; she organized a day of action at the school to demonstrate not only the importance of this issue but to show how students speaking up could make positive change.  After discussion with faculty and school administration the policy was changed.

More importantly this effort gave birth to defineBLACK.  DefineBLACK’s mission is to embrace our differences but also cherish our similarities.  The group has fostered discussion about the cultural variations that exists within the black community.  The success of the club was acknowledged when they were invited by school administration to revise the student handbook to better fit the needs of the students. 

In the interview process Bergeline described herself as strong, optimistic and funny.  She described how she has been able to use humor to educate and confront in a way that is respectful and meaningful.  Whether she is confronting the need for an appropriate prayer space for Muslim students or coaching a younger student, Bergeline is a compassionate leader.  The school’s headmaster has experienced Bergeline’s commitment to making her school a better place for everyone first hand..  The Headmaster describes her as empathetic, with the ability to step outside of her own life experience and  see the needs of others and then advocate for them.  Bergeline epitomizes peer leadership;, she can both identify with her peers and still understand the diverse perspectives that can be present. 

This quote from her headmaster sums up Bergeline best, “Bergeline will take advantage of every opportunity college will offer – her tenacity dictates it.  She will also be an asset to any school or community that honor diverse voices and is committed to cultivating future leaders”.

 

Shandira – Recipient of this year’s Professional Staffing Group Scholarship

Shandira is currently a senior at Boston Latin Academy and is hoping to attend Pitzer College in Claremont, CA in the Fall.

Shandira is an outstanding student with a passion for learning and social justice.  She described herself during the interview as an “over-achiever”, interconnected and Insightful.  She is an exceptional student who has maintained her status on the Honor Roll since she enrolled.  Her guidance counselor said she improved every year and is the type of student who will rise to any academic challenge.  This is also evidenced by her selection and participation in the SCS Noonan Scholars program – a program that supports college bound first generation students, students from low income backgrounds and students of color.  She is always committed to doing her absolute best.

In her school community she has consistently demonstrated leadership and a strong commitment to make the school a better place for everyone.  She is a member of the student government as a senator as well as being a part of the Greater Boston Regional Student Advisory Council.  As an Ambassador in the Ambassadors Club she has helped to ensure that all students feel welcomed and included.  As a student intern in WorkSmart she has participated in a Job Readiness Training Workshop and Boston’s Bridge to Excellence. 

Another school faculty member said the following; “I am most impressed by her unwavering commitment to social justice and equity.  I have watched her grow into a compassionate and humble leader in our community”.  She is dedicated to making sure that every voice is heard.  Her passion for diversity and inclusion is evident in her commitment to support and advocate for the undocumented students who attend her school.  After a particularly cruel and insensitive comment directed at a friend, she worked to create the Student Immigrant Movement Club (SIM Club).  The club is designed to create a safe place for students to discuss the complex issues surrounding immigration.  She has lead workshops and activities that raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by immigrant students. 

As an emerging student leader and activist Shandira has found her voice.  In her own words – “now that we have started having real conversations about immigration, LGBTQ rights and education reform I never want to stop.  For the first time, I feel I have a voice to share that can defend others and actively influence people’s opinions of immigrant, queer, POC and other minorities, like myself.”

 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be in the presence of the inspirational young leaders of tomorrow. Nayleth, Bergeline, and Shandira are so deserving of the support provided by the NEHRA scholarship. Their futures are so bright, and I cannot wait to see the incredible things that they will accomplish. One can only imagine where the world would be if we had more people like them. I gained perspective and insight from these recipients, and I do believe that we all can learn from the coming generations who challenge the status quo, and who take initiative to create the change we all know is needed but that few want to take on.