#MassSTAR2017 Day One Recap

It’s official, fam – Day One is in the books! Shout out to New England weather for finally getting its act together and gracing us with blue skies for this morning’s drop off. Thank you to the dedicated drivers who woke up early to drop off our delegates, and kudos to the delegates themselves for arriving with big smiles, ready to dive into the conference.

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We’ll be posting nightly updates recapping our daily activities, so check back each day to hear how things went!

Confluence
Confluence is a MassSTAR tradition – it’s the first time we’re meeting each other, and right off the bat, we get the energy going. This is our opportunity to meet as many people as possible and to begin to get to know each other.

First Group Meeting
Throughout the weekend, delegates work together in groups of 8-9 sophomores, with one junior and one senior facilitator per group. This year’s groups were named after a space theme, and during this first meeting, groups design their sign and brainstorm their group roll call.

Keynote Speaker: Representative Adrian Madaro, 1st Suffolk District
Representative Adrian Madaro of the 1st Suffolk District came to speak to our delegates about how he came to be elected to represent his hometown of East Boston in the Massachusetts House of Representatives while still in his 20s. Representative Madaro touched on all five points of the MassSTAR curriculum in his speech – collaboration, initiative, intentionality, responsibility, and respect – and shared some of the ways he worked to achieve his goals. The delegates had a chance to ask questions at the end of the speech, and their queries showed insight and sophistication.

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.

Energizers & Games
Our days are jam-packed at MassSTAR, and it’s important that we break up the day, so between speakers we took the opportunity to play some games and get moving. These games serve as energizers while also helping our delegates to get more comfortable with their peers and their environment.

Dynamic Influence: Robert Hackenson Jr.
To mix things up, we brought in Robert Hackenson Jr., an “edutainer” with a background in magic whose dynamic presentation skills kept our delegates engaged while also helping them to learn how they can take control of their own minds and outlook. Robert believes when it comes to speaking it’s more than just what you say, it’s how you deliver the messages.  If the audience is bored, the important messages are lost – and our delegates certainly were not bored!

Exploring the Communities We Build – “The Ice Cream Game”
The best part of any meal is dessert, so after our dinner break, we came together for another MassSTAR tradition – Exploring the Communities We Build, fondly knowns as the Ice Cream Game. Our facilitator, Rosette Cataldo, is an alum of the MYL Foundation and has been running this workshop for us for over twenty years. During the activity delegates compete to see who can build the best community with the resources they have at hand – and the debrief is always one of the highlights of the weekend. This workshop is truly a once in a lifetime experience – once you’ve participated, you can never again experience the workshop as a participant. It’s impossible to explain the program in words, so ask a delegate about their experience – we promise they’ll have quite a bit to say!

A-WAY Slam Poetry Team

As our final presentation of the day, the A-WAY slam poetry team, a team formed of Massachusetts high school students, joined us to share their words with our delegates. Their performance sparked some great discussions in our nightly debrief. We hope their poetry inspires our delegates to try their hands at poetry of their own!

Debriefs & Lights Out
Before returning to the dorms, our groups gathered for a debrief to talk through the events of the day. We build these debriefs periodically into our schedule to create the processing space for our delegates to talk through the presentations they’ve seen and the workshops they’ve participated in. Our facilitators raise questions and guide delegates through the topics we’ve covered.

We had an awesome first day and we can’t wait to see what else our delegates bring to the table tomorrow! Check back later in the weekend for our Day Two and Day Three updates!

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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

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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.

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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…

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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’.

Social

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.

Confluence
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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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Stay tuned tomorrow for another update!