It’s all about who you know… and sometimes who you don’t

It’s all about who you know… and sometimes who you don’t

One of the aspects of the Communication and Leadership program that I love most is the integration of real life application of content with organizations in Buffalo.  The real life learning extends beyond classroom assignments and semester projects.  While catching up with a former colleague, small talk led to yet another opportunity to share my enthusiasm of the ComLead program. “Yes, I’m loving it. My focus is Managing Not-for -Profits.” Her eyes widened, “That’s wonderful! My husband and I are in the midst of starting our own non-profit!” Of course they were. Yet another reason why I love the small little world of Buffalo. There’s always a reason for why and when things happen.

Later that week I set up a coffee meeting to hear more about the non-profit.  My hope was that even if I didn’t have the answers, I could help connect him to the people that did. In an hour’s like-a-warm-cup-of-coffee-gary-hoovertime, Tom Jasinski shared not only his riveting life journey but also narrated the curriculum of my studies into the story of starting his non profit.  Tom is a double organ transplant recipient.  Do you know where New York State ranks in the nation for the number of registered organ donors per capita? I didn’t either. But we are last. Yep, last.

Driven by his personal experience and this staggering statistic, Tom Jasinski is launching ONE8FIFTY with bold passion and conviction to change not only this ranking, but to create awareness, increase registration and ultimately save lives.  The ONE8FIFTY name is derived from the fact that “ONE single donor can provide up to 8 people with organ donations and greatly impact up to FIFTY others through tissue donation.”  For more information visit the official website:

logo for one8fifty

Until this conversation my knowledge of organ donations and transplant journey was minimal and my skills in starting a non-profit are not quite expert level.  In this short meeting I was affirmed that I knew more than I thought in both arenas.  I have certainly been inspired to share the ONE8FIFTY mission.  I have definitely found the right fit in the Communication and Leadership program at Canisius.


I aAprilOrganDonationm so thankful for the chance meeting with my former colleague. It allowed for a valuable learning experience and making connections for Tom and the launch of ONE8FIFTY.  After all, they say it’s all about who you know, and in the case of organ donation and saving lives, sometimes it’s all about the people you don’t.



What latte?!

What latte?!

Tonight I had the good fortune of attending the Agape Latte speaker series first talk by Dr. Melissa Wanzer. The word “Agape” is Greek for “Brotherly love” as you would come to expect from a community. “Latte” as I am informed derives its roots from Italian and… well, you get the idea: Coffee!

Agape Latte is a club at Boston College that brings in speakers to talk about their personal experiences with faith, spirituality and community as a learning experience for those listening and to facilitate a discussion about these topics over coffee. A few enterprising students, moved by these efforts, got together and decided to bring this to Buffalo with them. Thus was the first Agape Latte discussion held!

You had my int… wait… I know this one….. Damn it…

This discussion in particular caught my eye since it was about the role of faith, spirituality and relationships in grief and loss. Frankly, seeing the words “Grief and Loss” and “Spirituality” in the same sentence raise several questions in my head as a counselor and as an ultimately spiritual person. Trying to reconcile religion (or spirituality, take your pick) and mental health issues is often a trying task for even the most skilled artisans in the field of counseling. While I have yet to form a clear opinion on the subject, I could always benefit from hearing a point of view I haven’t before.

What I heard in the next hour was Dr. Wazner’s personal experience with grief and loss in her family and the role that community played in helping her and her family bear the burdens of that loss. She talked about her struggle with faith and God, her journey through the Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief, (and in due time) her reconciliation with her faith and the outpouring of support that came from her community.

The delightful Dr. Wazner herself!

Having considered what was being said and  looking back now at the end of the day, I took something away from that about myself. A crucial part of what she said was to trust in God to act through the people around you. I think it was rather telling that what I heard was to trust in the people around you. From my philosophy days, I seemed to vaguely recall the concept of the “Categorical Imperative” here and to me, it seemed to me be a simple call to action for all present to be a part of a greater community. Be you devout, atheist or agnostic, be anything but a bystander. While the tale may have meant something different to others present, what I heard was essentially “Be the crazy you want to see in the world” and consequently, “Be a part of a bigger world”.

Busy as I am with the lifestyle (and sleep deprivation backlog) of a grad student, I think I needed the time to process this and convey what I thought was an important message from this deeply internal conversation: “Be a part of a bigger world”. As a student, while I may barely find time to meet the expectations of my academic life,  I can’t honestly say that I regret having known too many people or having too many friends and loved ones in my life. I can’t honestly say that I have regretted reaching out to those close to me in troubled times (be they mine or theirs).

Here’s hoping I never will.


How to Pass with Flying Colors

With midterm exams looming on the horizon, it’s time to buckle down and dust off those books. But did you know that your go-to study habits may be doing more harm than good? Before jumping into this semester’s midterm prep, use these tips to turn your study sessions from destructive to productive:

  1. Take care of numero uno. While the tendency during midterm week is to throw ourselves feverishly into studying, this behavior is actually self-sabotaging. By cutting sleep, drinking too much coffee, and skipping the gym, we’re depriving our bodies and setting ourselves up for a major crash. During times of stress it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Trade the endless caffeine for a hydrating glass of water; make sure you’re getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night; and carve out time for aerobic activity, like Cardio Kick or yoga, both offered on campus.
  2. Don’t cram! I work well under pressure, but sometimes last-minute studying means forgetting important information I could have retained if I’d just given myself more time. In order to combat this, I’ve started giving myself deadlines to have material learned well ahead of the exam. This helps me tap into my peak productivity without the stress brought on by an actual time crunch.
  3. You do you. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. If you’re like me and need peace and quiet to study, take advantage of the silent floor of the library. Or if you need activity around you in order to focus in, head to a nearby coffee shop like Spot. If you know you work best in a group, get some studious friends together and congregate in the library’s common areas. You can even reserve a study room for your group ahead of time to beat the mid-semester rush.

Following these suggestions helps me feel focused, energized, and prepared for any exam. What tips or tricks do you rely on to help you survive midterms?

Pleased to Meet You

I’m Canisius’ newest blogger: a recent graduate with a BA in English and a minor in dance. In a whirlwind week last August, I was offered an assistantship and am now enrolled in the Communications & Leadership program, working towards a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications.

In the pages of this blog, you’ll find me gravitating towards a number of topics that are discussed in my program, from gender differences to work-life balance. But outside of class, my interests are even more varied – I find excitement in everything from watching a Canisius basketball game to catching a concert at Kleinhans Music Hall, so these parts of my life will sneak into the blog as well.

I hope you’ll follow along as I juggle the roles of being a student, a graduate assistant in Admissions, and a native Buffalonian eager to explore my hometown with a fresh perspective.

Go Griffs!

Make Time to Mentor

Benjamin Disreali said, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
 I’ve never personally met Mr. Disreali, but it sounds like he has exactly what it takes to be a great mentor. For, as I learned last month at a young women’s mentorship event hosted by Buffalo’s Women on the Rise group, mentoring is an act of generosity.

Karen Russell, in her TEDxOverlake speech on mentorship, calls it “a relationship that helps people find their highest and best use.” As I learned from over a dozen mentoring conversations at Women on the Rise’s event, we’re not expected to have all the answers. Simply sharing your experiences and lessons learned can benefit someone younger in their career.

From the women I met that night – who specialize in areas ranging from Human Resources and Organizational Development to law and higher education – I heard some sage advice and practical tips on finding and following your path. Here are some simple truths that stood out:

1. Explore Your Options

“Careers today are not linear,” I heard again and again from women at all levels in their careers. One mentor I talked with, whose passions have taken her from Mexico and Costa Rico to D.C. and local government, advised that taking time to explore your passions and skills is key in finding the right position. Shadowing, interning and focusing on transferrable skills were three strategies women used to pinpoint just what it is they love to do.

2. You Don’t Need a 5-Year Plan

So many of the leaders at last month’s event had never imagined themselves doing what they do now. You can’t predict the people and opportunities that will come into your life as you challenge yourself and say yes to new things. In the end, the most surprising and fulfilling parts of our careers – like most parts of life – don’t follow a plan.

3. Trust Yourself

You can choose to stay – or you can choose to quit. One of the women I talked to had made a brave move – taking a few months, a few years back, to travel Europe and then to jump immediately into full-time studies in the ComLead program. She advised the young women across from her, “Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t be afraid to make bold moves.”

Are you part of a mentoring relationship now, or thinking about starting one? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below.