By Kait Bedell & Angela Hayes – News Editor & 1851 Contributor
Lasell Works is a program the university introduced where students live off-campus for their sophomore year and work a part-time job while taking online classes. It is designed to help students get involved with the workforce early, and helps students save on money as the cost of their sophomore year is exempt from room and board.
Director of Lasell Works Stephanie Williams has been running the program for three years. As soon as she heard the pitch, she knew she “had to be on the frontier.” Williams explained how the program “gives students real-world experience to connect what they’re learning in the classroom with what they do in the world.”
Williams spends a lot of her time speaking one-on-one with students, checking in with them at least once a month. Two students currently exploring their sophomore year experience, Kaitlyn Gargas and Emily Hamm, expressed their thoughts on the program.
Gargas, a double major in event management and hospitality is from Maynard, Massachusetts and is currently living and working full-time at Stratton Mountain ski resort in Vermont. Her original hope was to work more in her field organizing concert venues, but that has been put on hold due to the pandemic.
She took the two and a half hour leap away from home because she loves the adventure of seasonal work. Gargas joined Lasell Works because she was drawn to the freedom of it and found a great amount of personal growth and independence through it.
She expressed how she thinks “people need to not get caught up in the fact that you’re not on campus sophomore year ‘cause I think a lot of people are going to just feel like they’re going to miss their friends too much, which obviously I do, but there’s still more opportunities, you’re not just losing things, you’re gaining a bunch.”
Sophomore English major Emily Hamm said she also benefits greatly from the opportunities that come with being home during her sophomore year. Hamm works as a substitute teacher at an elementary school and works remotely as a writing teacher for an insurance agency.
While Hamm enjoyed her time on campus during her first year, she said the experience she gets from the program makes living at home for the year worth it. “This program has really helped me to establish connections and establish what route I want to take with my English degree,” Hamm said.
Although some students in the Lasell Works program had concerns about the possibility of work shortage and how the program would be impacted, Hamm, among others, has maintained a positive experience.
“Even though it’s virtual I really have felt that I’m still able to maintain those connections [with students] that I made freshman year,” Hamm said. “Obviously COVID has placed a challenge on a lot of things and I’m grateful to be placed in the opportunities I have been for working.”
Williams is hoping the program can “benefit from the oddity and the difficulty of this last year and that students everywhere will realize that you don’t, you know, things don’t have to be the way you’ve always pictured them to be in order for them to be great.”
While Williams understands this unusual plan can seem scary, she hopes more students will be open to the adventure and the challenge of Lasell Works.