Advancing Advocacy Through Education

Three soon-to-be graduates were inspired to further their education to promote advocacy amongst various populations.

man on stairs with books in suit Photo by Terry Slater
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You’ve likely heard the saying, “Time is the greatest teacher.” This sentiment recognizes that life experience of any kind—whether personal, professional, or academic—is valuable. With programs geared toward the adult-learner, Endicott College’s Van Loan School of Professional Studies appreciates the lessons each student brings with them into the classroom.

Knowledge is sourced from every facet of our lives, and three students who are set to graduate this May, have applied their personal journeys to their academic pursuits, and have effectively defined their professional goals. Although each of their life paths took them in various directions, they each entered into their studies with an immense commitment to social advocacy, and are emerging with finely honed research skills as well as confidence in their knowledge, and are ready to pursue their passions within their respective fields.

Reginauld Williams ’21

Reginauld WHaving worked more than 12 years in the field of nonprofit management, Reginauld Williams ’21, brought a wealth of experiential knowledge into his academic courses. To deepen his impact amongst vulnerable populations within the Greater Boston area, Williams decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. He says this degree path, “allowed me to take courses that I found interesting, helped me refine my research skills, and reignite my pathway forward in higher education.”

Integrated within the framework of the Van Loan School’s curriculum, the Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) allows students to apply lessons learned from their own life experiences toward their earned college credits. Williams says, “It was great to have a focused space to reflect and pull forward parts of my journey and see how they lined up with courses such as consumer behavior, philanthropy in action, and more.” His thesis focused on researching and addressing the impact of structural racism on Greater Boston's innovation economy, and he says, “I'm excited to have the opportunity to continue that learning in my master's program and help Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and marginalized entrepreneurs leverage data to help improve their economic outcomes.” Williams’ personal, professional, and academic journey will continue this fall as he’s been accepted to Tufts University's Master of Public Policy program.

“It was great to have a focused space to reflect and pull forward parts of my journey and see how they lined up with courses such as consumer behavior, philanthropy in action, and more.”—Reginauld Williams ’21

Kim Pizzella Kiesling A’91 ’21

Advancing Advocacy Endicott College ArticleThis May, Kim Pizzella Kiesling A’91 ’21 will be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Business Management—almost 30 years to the day that she earned her associate degree from Endicott in 1991. Like Williams, Kiesling found that the PLA process led her down a path of self-discovery—a journey that was integral to her success. She says, “Through the process of writing about my prior learning, I could now appreciate my growth in setting boundaries and putting my dreams of finishing my degree in the forefront. I have learned two things: it is never too late, and my hopes and dreams matter.” Additionally, she says, “While doing the research for my thesis, my passion came alive.” Having established a career in political and nonprofit fundraising, Kiesling’s professional goals had already taken shape, but through her coursework she was able to uncover the path that will give her true fulfillment.

Kiesling aims to “support people with trauma and, in effect, help to make the world a better place.” To this end, she will be applying for her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling. This field is of significant importance to Kiesling, who is a survivor of sex trafficking. She says, “I wanted to research the barriers to accessing mental healthcare for trauma survivors. Through my own recovery I have learned a lot about navigating the world of therapies I needed in order to heal.” By interweaving her own personal, professional, and academic experiences, Kiesling has realized a way forward for herself—and aims to guide others down their own pathways toward healing.

“While doing the research for my thesis, my passion came alive.”—Kim Pizzella Kiesling A’91 ’21

Chris Maschino ’21

advancing advocacy Endicott CollegeWith a career path rooted in the field of addiction treatment and recovery, Chris Maschino ’21 considers the decision to pursue his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in trauma studies, “an easy choice.” Although, that is not to say that his journey toward his academic career wasn’t without its challenges. In fact, Maschino hadn’t intended to pursue his bachelor’s degree until he received an all staff email from his employer’s human resources department about the programming available through the Van Loan School. With a newfound interest in returning to school, Maschino immersed himself in his studies and says that his coursework was, “interesting, informative, and ultimately changed the way I engage with the population I serve at work.”

Maschino excelled in his courses and was able to apply a great deal of his own experience to what he was learning in the classroom. As someone who has suffered from drug addiction and incarceration, Maschino says he has “gotten a glimpse of the darker side of life and the human psyche.” Similarly to his peers however, he was able to combine what he’s learned through his own life experience with his academics. Maschino wrote his thesis on the topic of clinician implicit gender bias and its influence on mental illness diagnoses, and discovered that the process of researching, writing, and receiving feedback was transformative. Reflecting on his Endicott experience he says, “Those willing to challenge me in any way have facilitated change and growth in my life that I would not have otherwise, and for that I am eternally grateful.” Maschino is graduating this May with the plan to attend law school in the fall.

Despite their various paths, each individual—Williams, Kiesling, and Maschino—has taken on a unique journey that has led them toward advocacy. Each of these soon-to-be graduates plans to take what they’ve learned into the world and make it a better place for people who are struggling, in one way or another. Their experiences of self-reflection have resulted in their empowerment, and their academic journeys have inspired them to continue on and learn more. Each will be advancing their degree path in the fall, and are shining examples of what a person can achieve with passion and an education.

“Those willing to challenge me in any way have facilitated change and growth in my life that I would not have otherwise, and for that I am eternally grateful.” —Chris Maschino ’21