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!

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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.