Stronger Learning Through Advising and Opportunities to Lead

January 6, 2017


At Stonehill, lessons of leadership are as deeply rooted in the fabric of campus life as the trees lining the Quad.

That leadership-driven educational philosophy takes shape beginning in the first moments of New Student Orientation. From academic- and interest-driven programs such as the Academic Peer Mentors and SALT financial literacy programs to community-enriching initiatives such as ALANA-A, Leadership Through Diversity and the Center for Nonprofit Management, students choose from a wealth of engagement opportunities.

“We help students better understand themselves as leaders while developing the valuable ability to work within communities small and large throughout their lives.”
Craig Kelley, dean of academic achievement

The result? Leadership and professional skills that pay off as students transition into post-college life and careers. “It might be as simple as writing a professional letter or more complex, such as presenting at a meeting,” says newly hired Ernst & Young accountant Kate Morneault ’16, whose leadership experiences at Stonehill included a term as president of the Student Government Association and co-leader of a H.O.P.E. experience to Portland. “They’re skills you’ll use forever.”

Below are some programs that guide students to the realization of their leadership potential.

Think. Act. Lead.

  • Purpose: A campuswide mentoring program and a philosophy, Think. Act. Lead. holistically integrates leadership throughout the Stonehill experience to develop students’ strengths and encourage mentorship
  • Students Involved: Every Stonehill student
  • Launched: July 2015

With Think. Act. Lead., leadership development serves as a backdrop for every one of Stonehill’s curricular and co-curricular initiatives. “It’s about everyone on campus — faculty, staff and students — supporting each other’s holistic development as mentors,” says Kelley. “We recognize each student’s strengths and weaknesses and help position them for success, while they’re here at Stonehill and beyond.” Since its launch, the program has helped increase the College’s post-graduation placement outcomes rate by 11 percent. A complementary leadership training program, with learning sessions focused on cultivating specific leadership skills and strategies, is planned to launch this year through the Office of Student Activities.

Moreau Honors Program

  • Purpose: An enhanced learning experience distinguished by an innovative curriculum, small and rigorous classes, and active learning opportunities
  • Students Involved: Students are selected based on academic performance; 10-12 students lead the program through the Honors Advisory Council
  • Leadership Grant Recipients (2015-2016): 10

With a student-driven model led by the Honors Advisory Council of 10 to 12 community-selected students, the Moreau Honors Program fosters students’ natural motivation and leadership abilities. The Honors Program Leadership Grants are awarded to selected students to support leadership, research and conference presentations. “Before Stonehill, I would have hesitated to call myself a leader,” says Brittany Frederick ’16, who as a student received a Moreau grant to present to the Humanities Education and Research Association in Washington, D.C. Now a doctoral candidate at Boston University, Frederick applies the leadership strategies she honed through the Honors Program to help her colleagues “work collaboratively to solve problems.”

Student Activities

  • Purpose: Student-driven cocurricular activities help foster community while empowering students to cultivate leadership skills and create change
  • Students Involved: Seven elected officers in SGA; 70 percent of the student body belongs to at least one organization or club
  • Student-run Organizations: Upwards of 80 clubs and initiatives

From the elected positions of the Student Government Association to peer mentoring programs and the scores of clubs represented by the Office of Student Activities, Stonehill students choose from a wide range of involvement opportunities. Whether they lead or participate in those activities, leadership is the common thread. “We work to cultivate the leadership skills students need to work well with others,” says Jim Hermelbracht, director of the Office of Student Activities. That fostered sense of community helped Anna Craft ’16 find her voice through SGA and other activities. “The cohesion among students, faculty and staff helped me see every leadership opportunity as a chance to grow,” she says.

Integrating Democratic Education at Stonehill (I.D.E.A.S.)

  • Purpose: Fosters student engagement and collaborative education through one-credit courses taught to students by their peers
  • Students Involved: Each I.D.E.A.S. course is facilitated by at least one student and is open to all students as either a teacher or a participant
  • Current Courses: 11, covering topics that range from human trafficking to “The Politics of Harry Potter”

I.D.E.A.S. courses put students at the front of the classroom, where they lead semester-long courses. The experience cultivates facilitators’ presentation and critical thinking skills while engaging all students in active participation in learning. “There is no hiding in the back row, because there are no rows — just circles of discussion and engagement,” says Sarah Gracombe, I.D.E.A.S. faculty director. The program’s development is itself a story of student initiative; it’s the brainchild of Hailey Chalhoub ’13 and Chris Wetzel, associate professor of sociology. “I.D.E.A.S. courses build confidence and capacity in students to be great leaders,” says Chalhoub, who today helps extend the same leadership capacity to underdeveloped nations through her work with the nonprofit Root Capital.

H.O.P.E. Service Immersion Program

  • Purpose: Engages members of the Stonehill community in cross-cultural service experiences through domestic and international service trips rooted in the Holy Cross mission
  • Student Involved: Experiences are open to all students; 165 students traveled in 2015-2016
  • Recent Service Immersions: New Orleans, Louisiana; Canto Grande, Peru; Portland, Oregon; Chacraseca, Nicaragua

H.O.P.E. (Honoring our neighbor, Organizing for justice, Practicing peace, Encountering God) is a service immersion program that engages student leaders in immersive, service-driven experiences reflecting Catholic principles. In the context of community, H.O.P.E. students tackle social justice issues ranging from hunger to civil rights, learning more about the world — and themselves — in the process. “We offer students the opportunity to take hold of ideas, learn, grow and become more than they had imagined,” says MaryAnne Cappelleri, campus minister for service immersion programs. Experience as a H.O.P.E. leader helped cement a career focus on race and sociology for Brittany Frederick. “Stonehill’s leadership opportunities fueled my interest in social movements — how we can work together for positive change.”