Stonehill Student Shines in Nonprofit Work
December 10, 2010
by Candace Hall
Helping the needy is something most students like to do at some point in their college experience, but often their efforts get put on the back burner, behind studying and exams.
Not so for Stonehill College senior Laura Sidla, who started working on charitable causes in middle school. The communications major, who is from Burrillville, Rhode Island, says she applied to Stonehill College because it is one of the few colleges that offered resources in nonprofit management.
Now, she wants to make nonprofit work her career, and she says the current recession makes the need greater than ever.
"There are a lot of people who have high needs now, especially with the economy. Being able to satisfy someone's needs - like bringing school supplies to children - it makes it a lot easier to get up and go to work," Sidla said.
Stonehill established the Center for Nonprofit Management in 2003, funded with $700,000 of federal grants, and since then it's been a resource for regional nonprofit leaders and organizations as well as for Stonehill students. The Center runs a leadership program, called Deveoping Fundraising Leaders Institute (DFLI), which has helped Sidla and her peers with training in fund-raising and grant-writing. It also has assisted students with internships in nonprofit management.
Sidla said participating in the DFLI led to her receiving several different internships in her field. She chose to work at Plan USA, an international development program in Rhode Island that helps children in developing countries. She said it was the best learning experience she's ever had.
"I was surrounded by many professionals who whole-heartedly invested themselves into their research, events and writing."
Sidla said she would like to work in international development consulting after graduating. She said she's realized that she is a leader, who likes public speaking, persuasion, and interpersonal interaction. She's also talked with a number of consultants in the field and is amazed at their achievements.
"At some point, I want to be a resource for nonprofit professionals to utilize. I want to help professionals help their clients to help themselves," she said.
In the meantime, she is keeping extremely busy with a variety of projects in the field. She's worked with Brockton Catholic Charities with a turkey distribution program, which serviced 900 families in the Brockton area. She's also working with a toy distribution program, researching what type of toys children want at different ages. The information will be used by local churches and schools that will be purchasing the toys for needy children for the holidays.
She's also been working with the College, creating profiles on 175 scholarships awarded to Stonehill Students.
Sidla's hard work has led to several awards and scholarships. She received two separate scholarships from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, in Rhode Island, as a high school student and college student.
Just recently, she also received the 2010 Student Scholarship Grant from the Boston Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PSRA) for communications. The grant is awarded to a student with strong potential to be a contributor to the communications industry.
The award usually goes to students who attend colleges in the immediate Boston area, which made it even more of an honor.
"It involved a lot of communication, and it was surprising," she said.
Sidla said she has benefitted greatly from all the resources that she has gotten through the Center. It assists about 30 - 35 students each year in providing skills and internships, and it also partners with the school's business department nonprofit management classes.
For Sidla, the experience will hopefully lead to a job where she can make a tremendous difference in the world.
"I have a voice and I would like to provide that for others," she said.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.