In December, Westfield State University recognized eight students for their leadership and service with the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership (read about all recipients here). Each winner participates in a wide range of on-and off-campus activities. Rachel Cofsky of Charlton, Marissa Cremin of North Easton, and Samantha Lee of Hopkinton, all members of the Honors Program, were among the awardees.
Rachel Cofsky, a University Honors scholar, is a senior dual major in Theatre Arts (Performance) and Communication (Media Arts and Analysis). As Head Resident Assistant, she has enjoyed being a positive role model and watching other RA’s become successful under her guidance.
Rachel has split her time between being an RA with at-tending leadership conferences; participating in Musical Theatre Guild as a member, executive board secretary, and assistant director for the spring 2016 production; and participating in the Student Theatre Association, including roles as stage manager and choreographer. In her spare time she works as a peer tutor and a teacher at Growing Footprints Educational Center. Rachel has also volunteered at the Westfield Soup Kitchen and the Samaritan Inn, and is a student representative for the Communication Department Curriculum Committee.
Rachel says, “I enjoy the personal aspects of leadership, and I pride myself on being some-one that others can count on. Sometimes all a leader needs is a bump in the right direction and someone else telling them they believe in them. A long line of nudges and I-believe-in-you’s is what got me to where I am today.”
Honors student Marissa Cremin is a junior dual major in Communication and Political Science. As Community Relations/Fundraising Representative in the Student Government Association, Marissa has led the Neighborhood Advisory Board and coordinated blood drives, the annual SGA turkey drive benefitting families in need, a spring cleaning formalwear drive and other charitable events. Marissa believes that a team is only as strong as its leader, and that leading by example is the best way to ensure a sense of equity in a team.
In addition to her role on SGA, Marissa is a member of the Guest Lecture Series committee, the Honors Program, Lambda Sigma Honors Society, 2018 Class Council, and a Student Ambassador. She has also volunteered for the Buzz off Cancer events, the Samaritan Inn, White Oak School, Arbors Assisted Living and Habitat for Humanity.
Marissa explains, “I’m learning ways to become a better leader every day. Personal growth has always been so important to me and I try hard to keep up with the goals I set for myself. Every failure is a lesson, and the attitude you have is what ultimately affects how things will work out for you. I’m looking forward to another year in a leadership position that has brought me the ability to change people’s lives for the better!”
Samantha Lee, a Commonwealth Honors scholar, is a senior dual major in Elementary Education and Liberal Studies. Samantha experienced a life-changing opportunity while at Westfield when she participated in a service learning trip to Nicaragua, both in 2014 and again in 2016, organizing 18 students on a worksite to build a school, and teaching Nicaraguan students. The impact she found most rewarding was the mark that the community of Nueva Esperanza left on her and the rest of the volunteers. Their positive attitude and approach to life was astounding. Samantha returned to Nicaragua to teach English this past summer.
On campus, Samantha is a student ambassador, a member of the Kappa Delta Phi Education Honors Society, has participated in Civic Engagement and Democratic Community Engagement Training, and as a presenter at the Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference, Westfield State Gala, and the Undergraduate Research Conference at UMass, Amherst. She is co-president of the Westfield State Relay for Life and co-president of the Student Ambassadors.
Samantha says, “As I spend time on campus, in class, at work, or just relaxing, I think about the students in Nicaragua. More than anything, they taught me the value of love and its impact on effective leadership. My weeks spent in Nicaragua are remembered by cinderblocks, cement, laughs, tears, smiles, and love from my students.”
Reprinted from the Squirrel Squire, the newsletter of the Honors Program