8 Questions w/ Alex Gomez ’10

gomezContinuing our series of “get-to-know-you” interviews with the MYL fam! Alex, surprising exactly no one, provided a Britney Spears gif. In fairness, I did ask for it. 

Who are you?
Alex Gomez ’10

How did you first become involved with the MYL foundation?
I attended the 3 day conference then stayed involved with the Alumni Association, attending meetings and volunteer events. Later I became Alumni Association President and a member of the Conference Planning Committee (CPC).

What do you do now?
Currently I am the Director of Alumni Relations on the MYL Foundation Board of Directors. When not volunteering with MYL Foundation I work at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester working for an Educational Non-Profit called New Classrooms that changes the way Math is taught in Middle Schools around the country. I also work at a public library in Hingham, MA.

What’s your patronus?
A snowy owl. R.I.P. Hedwig

How do you carry the MYL values with you in your work or school?
I’m always reminding myself, in addition to where reminding myself of where I last left my phone, of the importance of intentionality and collaboration. I truly believe that you learn the most from others and their experiences, more than in a lecture or textbook. There’s an infinite wealth of knowledge and experiences out in the world and how I interact with those in school and at work is all rooted in my core belief that the experiences I share and that are shared with me will shape me and those I encounter and work with. I always try and create a community wherever I go, a community of learning, of shared experiences; a community of love for learning and love for other humans that live, have lived, or will live on this planet.

What gif best reflects you?
There are several GIFs out there of Britney Spears making faces during her tenure on America’s Got Talent. Those GIFs are me. I am those GIFs. Here is one of those GIFs.


My Idol.

What does it mean to “be a good citizen” to you?
Taking time to actually learn about what’s going on in the world today. Even if it means jumping on buzzfeed or the apple news app and scrolling through the news headlines. It means taking the time to know there are other countries, states, and even neighborhoods in your community that are all going through similar experiences as well as totally different ones. The world is WILD and being a good citizen, to me, means being an active participant in it, always ready to know, learn, experience and grow more.

Do you have any advice for recent MYL Alumni?
Read my answer to the previous question and DO IT. Also, get involved with the MYL Foundation. Help shape the lives of others around you. Take the MYL Foundation values and share them in your community and the communities you explore as you grow in both age and experiences.

8 Questions w/ Nick Valentini ’07

valentiniGetting to know the MYL fam! This week, hear from Nick about citizenship and caffieneation. 

Who are you – what’s your name and MYL year, and what positions have you held with the Foundation/at MassSTAR?
Hello! My name is Nick and I’m a 2007 MYL alumnus. I originally represented Georgetown Middle-High School and have returned to volunteer at the conference as a member of Junior Operations staff, a Junior Facilitator, and for the past three years as a Senior Facilitator

What are you up to now?
This week was probably the laziest week of my entire life, mostly spent sleeping, catching up on TV shows and slowly packing/organizing my stuff to move to New Hampshire. Next week I’ll be starting medical school at Dartmouth!

I graduated in 2013 with a BA in Government and Environmental Studies with the goal of working in the field of environmental policy. However after many years as an EMT I decided I wanted to pursue a career in medicine instead. I spent a few years working in healthcare and preparing to apply to medical school before completing the application process this year.

America runs on Dunkin. You run on ______?
5 hours of sleep and a trenta iced red eye* from Starbucks

*For emergencies only, normally a plain iced coffee will do the trick!

If you were a Muppet, who would you be and why?
This was a very tough decision between Cookie Monster and Kermit the Frog. I share Cookie Monster’s love of food and appreciate that he finds fulfillment in a very simple passion. I can relate to Kermit’s kindness and empathy and also to the fact that he spends a lot of time trying to control the craziness of his friends and coworkers!

What does it mean to “be a good citizen”?
I think citizenship means something different to everyone. It can entail being civically and politically active, raising awareness of causes important to you. In a broader sense, as a citizen of the world, it can mean practicing the values of respect, intentionality, and responsibility that are taught by the MYL Foundation and are crucial to a productive society. I think a good citizen is aware of the characteristics of his or her community and cognizant of the impact his or her actions have on other people.

What’s your ideal superpower?
The ability to control time, I could always use more time in the day!

Tell us a memorable MassSTAR story!
Some of the most impactful moments for me have been witnessing the development of the next generation of MYL leaders. Whether it be a delegate speaking in front of the group for the first time, or when a former delegate returns to conference staff, or when a delegate is sincerely thankful for the opportunity to participate in MassSTAR. It all makes for a very memorable MYL experience!

On a lighter note, surviving consecutive all-nighters on staff during the earlier days of the MYL conference and the hilarious moments from those nights will always be memorable.

Lastly, I have to mention that Cayla (also recently featured in this blog!) continues to hold a grudge against me for my role in the Ice Cream Game during her delegate year.

Do you have any advice for recent MYL Alumni?
Absolutely stay involved with MYL and the alumni association! I have made lifelong friends and developed an endless network of professional colleagues from MassSTAR and it has been incredibly beneficial to have this support network throughout my life. I also encourage everyone to volunteer with MYL in some way, whether that be as staff returning to the MassSTAR conference or with one of our alumni association events. The experience “on the other side” of the MassSTAR conference is memorable and meaningful in different ways than the experience of a delegate.

On a more personal note, after 3 major changes in college, a few mismatched internships, and a lot of soul searching, my most important realization lately has been that it is completely okay at a younger age to not have it “all figured out.” As many of you finish high school and prepare to enter college, pursue advanced training, or begin employment, I think it is important to realize that you are not stuck on one path for the rest of your life. I encourage you to utilize the MYL network to aid you on your individual journeys!

8 Questions w/ Miriam Crichlow ’10

miriamWe’re helping you get to know our outstanding alumni, one spotlight at a time! Can you guess which Marvel anti-hero Miriam identifies with?

Who are you?

My name is Miriam Crichlow. I was a delegate to the 2010 conference representing Ursuline Academy. Since my conference, I have served as a junior operations and as a facilitator. I currently serve on the Conference Planning Committee as the director of staff.

What are you up to now?
Right now I am still in Cleveland at Case Western Reserve University, finishing up a few classes for my degree. I’m also working as your friendly neighborhood IT specialist at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.

What’s your hidden talent?
Surprisingly good bowler. Not a particularly useful talent but has won me free pizza on numerous occasions.

What’s your favorite point of the STAR?
My favorite point of the STAR has to be intentionality. When I first heard the points of the STAR it immediately stuck out to me because I didn’t think it was a real word. However, as I’ve stayed involved in the MYL Foundation I’ve come to realize it’s not only a real word but also a reminder that my actions should be done with and on purpose.

What fictional character is most like you?
I tried taking a buzzfeed quiz for this but I didn’t like the answer so I’m going with Marvel’s Jessica Jones. When it comes to accomplishing her goals she has a real no nonsense attitude I can’t help by respect and admire. She’s also a rare strong female lead in a predominantly male dominated field. As a female computer engineer it’s a good change of pace to see a woman kicking butt and taking names.

Are you a night owl or early bird?
I’d like to believe I’m an early bird then again I also designed class schedules so I never had an 8am in college. If I’ve gotten my 8 hours, then definitely early bird if not I try to do my best to rally.

Tell us a memorable MassSTAR story.
It absolutely has to be closing ceremonies for the 2015 conference. There weren’t enough chairs set up so operations, CPC and the board moved at least 100 chairs from classrooms to the gym. It was a real bonding moment for all of us.

Do you have any advice for recent MYL alumni?
It’s been said before and I’m going to say it again: stay involved with the MYL Foundation. First, speaking as the director of staff, staffing decisions are hugely impacted by your involvement with the organization. Going to alumni events shows you’re still active within the Foundation and a great candidate for a staffing position. Second, speaking as a fellow alum, the MYL family is consistently there to support and help you. Ranging anywhere from writing recommendation letters to calls for a quick vent session – it’s a network of people you can depend on.

8 Questions w/ Irene Wong ’11

We’re helping you get to know our outstanding alumni, one spotlight at a time! This week, find out how many pounds Irene can deadlift (apparently that’s a thing?!)

e4243fbf-5c3e-4431-91bd-8699b4eab2cfWho are you?
My name is Irene and I am an alumna of the 2011 MassSTAR Citizenship Conference. I have previously served as the Eastern Alumni Association President and Junior Board Liaison. In the past, I’ve been on Junior Operations and a Junior Facilitator at MassSTAR and most recently served as a Senior Facilitator.
How did you first become involved with the MYL foundation?
I first became involved immediately after my MassSTAR Conference. We had regularly scheduled Alumni Association meetings and I would attend those and volunteer at MYL Foundation group service projects.

What are you up to now?
Right now I am doing stem cell research at Boston Children’s Hospital for the summer. In the fall I will start my senior year at Brandeis University and begin applying to PhD programs in biomedical science. I’m currently completing my Open Water SCUBA certification this summer!

What’s your hidden talent?
I can wiggle my nostrils! And deadlift over 250lbs.

America runs on Dunkin. I run on____
7 hours of sleep.

Tell us a memorable MassSTAR story?
I remember the time we had boxed lunches for an entire MassSTAR Conference because the cafeteria was under construction. It was an interesting food experience…

If you could travel anywhere RIGHT NOW – where would you go?
If I could travel anywhere right now, I’d go to American Samoa to visit their National Park.

Do you have any advice for recent MYL Alumni?
My advice would be to stay involved. The MYL Foundation provides a massive network of amazing people and the Alumni Association helps you meet alumni from different MassSTAR years. All of our alumni have diverse backgrounds, cool jobs, and community service experiences.

8 Questions w/ Cayla Barbour ’09

9113376 We’re helping you get to know our outstanding alumni, one spotlight at a time! In this installment of our new interview series, meet the ever-fabulous Cayla!

Tell us about you!
My name is Cayla Barbour and I am a 2009 MYL Alumna! I’ve been a Junior Facilitator, Junior Board of Directors Member, Make a Difference One Day Conference Co-Char, and Conference Planning Committee Member. I have been the Director of Programming for the MassSTAR Conference for the past 5 years and I love it!

How did you first become involved with the MYL foundation?
I first became involved with the MYL foundation as a the delegate from Coyle and Cassidy High School in the 2009 MassSTAR Conference. I stayed involved by attending the Alumni Association meetings and then applying for the roles I mentioned above as time went on.

What are you up to now?
I currently am interning at the City of Boston Law Department and will be going into my second year at New England Law | Boston this fall!

What emoji best reflects you? 
💃 – its a girl who loves to dance! she looks so E-WORD!

What’s your favorite point of the STAR?
Intentionality – As the Director of Programming, I try very hard to make sure every part of the MassSTAR conference has a purpose from the speakers and workshops to the theme to every cheer. In general, I always try to think critically of the purpose behind my decisions so that I can reflect on why I am making them and improve myself!

What’s your ideal superpower?
Teleportation – I love to travel and punctuality is not my strong suit so I could see the world without the hassle and get to places on time (maybe)!

What does citizenship mean to you?
Citizenship means being a member of the community. We are citizens of the communities we are in – school, town, state, world, etc – and our participation matters to make it great. Citizenship that is empowered to be active is a truly phenomenal force!

Do you have any advice for recent MYL Alumni?
Stay involved with your fellow alumni! At first it was a little difficult to travel to the alumni meetings, but thankfully the MYL community supported me in one small step of carpooling, and the rest of my experience has followed! MYL is like a family and we love to see our newest members at all of the alumni events and keeping in touch with the organization and each other.

MassSTAR 2016: Sunday Recap


Sunday at MassSTAR is a time for reflection, but also for looking to the future! On Sunday, our newly inducted MYL Foundation alumni spent time thinking and planning for what their futures might hold.

What’s Next Panel

A diverse panel speakers sat down and opened up for a Q&A about life after high school, and all the different paths open to our delegates. The panelists included two MYL alumni, Summer Moukalled (MYL’06) and Giulia Ensing (MYL’13), plus Alex Vanscoy, a law student and US military veteran; and Jill Reitzell, from Lasell College Admissions. The panelists spoke on steps for success, ways to overcome challenges, and shared stories of their experiences. Our favorite question: “How do you define greatness?”

Gratitude in Action

Reinforcing the theme of respect, responsibility, and initiative, the delegates spent time writing messages of gratitude to all of the donors, sponsors, and supporters of the MassSTAR conference.

Regional Action Planning

Delegates split up by region to begin developing projects they can work on together to make a difference in their communities. Delegates discussed issues that face their communities, and began planning all kinds of service projects. Some topics that were brought up include homelessness, tolerance in schools, special education – and so, so many more.


Closing Ceremonies

We marched into DeWitt Hall at Lasell with our spirits high! We first heard from three tremendous speakers. First up was Erica Ferrell, who so generously ran the Boston Marathon as a charity runner and raised over $5500 for MassSTAR 2016 – Erica reinforced that so many things are possible with passion and a support system. Then, representatives from the Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs of Massachusetts presented the inaugural Marta DiBenedetto Leadership Scholarship to Michaelah Nunes (MYL ’14).

Finally, we heard from our closing keynote speaker, Corey DePina, Youth Development and Performance Manager at ZUMIX, who delivered an OUTSTANDING speech about focus, perseverance, and movement.

To close out the day, we heard from one delegate from each of our groups, reporting on how they and their group experienced the weekend. Emotions ran high and all of the delegates shared their appreciation for one another, for the weekend, and shared ideas for what might come next!

We are so proud and pleased to have spent the weekend with [95] passionate, driven, and persistent young leaders. We have no doubt they will rise to the challenge and make huge waves in their communities, in their schools, and in the world. Thank you, MassSTAR 2016!

MassSTAR 2016: Saturday Recap

Whew – another powerful day at MassSTAR! Saturday Delegates and staff woke up sleepy but refreshed after a long, productive Friday and headed to breakfast ready for whatever else the Conference was going to throw at them! Which was a good thing, because…


Building Blocks of Effective Communication

… delegates spent the next hour running back and forth, trying to replicate a Lego structure through word-of-mouth. Facilitated by Gabby Perez and Jenna Brink, two new additions to the MYL family in 2016, this workshop challenged delegates to think about the ways they communicate with others in all ways. The delegates were split up into observers, runners, and builders, and each had an important role in the creation of the final structures. Afterwards, there was much discussion about what happens in situations where not everyone has the same information available to them.

Community Service Fair

During lunch, representatives from several Massachusetts organizations joined us for a community service fair, where delegates could learn about volunteer and service opportunities available to them! Organizations in attendance included City Year Boston, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Massachusetts, and, of course, the MYL Foundation Alumni Association and Empowered Citizen Grants team!

Service Project: Birthday in a Box

Every year, MassSTAR delegates complete a community service project in support of a Massachusetts nonprofit. This year we were pleased to again partner with Birthday Wishes, assembling boxes for their Birthday in a Box program. Guests from the Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs of Massachusetts attended – and even helped wrap a few boxes!

Take a Stand

Director of Programming Cayla Barbour (MYL’09) and MYL Foundation Director of Communications Colleen Myers (MYL’01) led the delegates through an intense process of making decisions and defending their point of view. Delegates learned that the choices they make matter, about the value of compromise, and spent time afterwards discussing what it means to… well, take a stand.

Operation: Egg Drop

Delegates worked in their groups to create a contraption to protect an egg when dropped from a tall ladder. They also had to create a commercial advertising their contraption – which led to a LOT of eggcellent egg puns. Like, a lot of puns. So many. We ain’t yolkin’.


Delegates rang in the end of the day with a celebratory dance! And at the end, we welcomed the 2016 delegates into the MYL Foundation family officially in the traditional way – a dance party set to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’!

Final Debrief

In typical MassSTAR fashion, we ended Saturday night sitting in a circle, sharing experiences, takeaways, and responses to the weekend. So many delegates expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet, learn from, and grow with one another.

We walked back to the dorms in silence to reflect, and prepare for one more day!

MassSTAR 2016: Friday Recap

Well, it’s official — Day One of the 2016 MassSTAR Citizenship Conference is in the books! We had a blast getting to meet all of this year’s delegates this morning. Thank you to all of the families and supporters who helped with transportation to Lasell College. We know that many of you had a long drive, and we’re so glad you could join us! We’ll be posting nightly recaps of our day’s adventures, so join us as we relive today’s schedule.

We don’t mess around — there’s no time like the present to start getting to know each other. Confluence is a grand MassSTAR tradition; it’s how we kickstart every conference, and it always gets us started on a high note.


Keynote Speaker: Ashley Bendiksen
Ashley Bendiksen opened our programming by speaking with our delegates about overcoming adversity and looking inward to discover their inner leaders. “If you change your mindset to a positive one, if you believe you can do anything, all the other stuff will fall into place.” With Ashley’s help, we established the mental baseline from which to approach our growth throughout the rest of the weekend.


Walk the Line
Our Director of Alumni Relations, Alex Gomez (MYL’10), led our first workshop of the weekend. Walk the Line helps our delegates to learn more about each other while preserving a safe space. Through the comfort of anonymity, delegates shared their honest feelings about their communities, their experiences, and their histories. During the debrief, Meg Geslin of Brockton High School shared the following observation: “I hope that we can look back and be proud of the world we made with each other.”

She Sells Sea Shells
Director of Programming Cayla Barbour (MYL’09) led our next workshop, which helped our delegates to explore their personal leadership styles. Each group was challenged to determine the number of seashells in a jar, and to negotiate with their peers to arrive at a group guess. In addition to building their communication skills, this workshop helped our delegates to address their reactions to situations with an uncertain answer. (And no — we still won’t tell you how many shells are in the jar.)


Exploring the Communities We Build: The Ice Cream Game
The first rule of the ice cream game: you never talk about the ice cream game! Veteran facilitator Rosette Cataldo (MYL’87) leads this program every year. Delegates are challenged to share what they see — and learn just as much from everything they don’t see along the way.


Vocal Revolution
To close out our first day, we explored making a new type of waves — this time, sound waves. Our delegates joined with local a cappella group Vocal Revolution to learn about how our voices can combine to create a sound that is greater than the sum of its part.


Stay tuned tomorrow for another update!

MassSTAR 2016: Meet the Staff (PT. 1)

Our outstanding volunteer staff is hard at work getting our 2016 MassSTAR Citizenship Conference ready – in two weeks, 100+ delegates will arrive at Lasell College in Newton, MA for an unforgettable weekend.

Check out the video below to meet some of the people who volunteer their time to make it happen – which also proves that we play as hard as we work!