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Centennial Celebration


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My Bentley Story by Elba Valerio

It is difficult to reflect on just one moment of my Bentley Chapter in my life. From the day I moved into the Tree Dorms, I knew my college experience was going to be life changing. I was going to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, grow, and become a strong leader. In high school, I was known as the quiet student, one who observes first and then speaks. During my first weekend in college, I thought to myself, “This is my chance to start fresh, step outside my comfort zone, and be myself.” This is exactly what I did. I introduced myself to everyone I met. I shared stories about my life and got to know as many people as possible. If it wasn’t for ALANA Experience, formerly known as ALANA Weekend, I would not have felt comfortable being my authentic self around new people. My First Year: Classes were intense, but I would not expect nothing less. I was adjusting to a new type of academic expectation. One where I was learning how long to study for or do research in order to obtain an A. I have always had straight A’s and knew that my parents expected the same academic success. Being a first generation Latina, I wanted to make my parents happy and feel proud of my accomplishments. During my first semester, United States experienced the one of the worse terrorist attacks in my lifetime: On September 11, 2001, planes were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon in DC. I remember that day clearly. It was not a typical Tuesday. In class, we redirected our focus to discuss the chaos taking place in New York. Our professor let us leave early. During lunch, I overheard students saying that they just saw one of the buildings completely crumble into the ground. I was in shock. I did not know what to do or say. It was my first year away from home and something terrible was taking place just four hours away. I called my parents, especially knowing that my father commutes to and from New York every day. My dad was safe in Boston. The country was at a stand still. Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day. Administration held a gathering for the community. I was too emotional to attend. Life was never the same again. Conversations were about 9/11. Was it an accident? Was it terrorism? Who did it? Why did they do it? Airports increased security and changed their procedures. After moments of healing and reflecting, we moved forward more unified than before. It brought my peers and I closer together. Leadership: Bentley is a place that fosters leadership. It was a place that helped me tap into my leadership potential. It opened many doors for me and offered opportunities to lead and perfect my leadership as an ALANA Peer Leader, Orientation Leader, Senior Building Manager, and Event Coordinator of Capoeira-Angola Student Organization. There were days that I came home and thought to myself, “How can I be a better leader? What can I do to make a difference in many of my peers’ lives?” These moments also sparked an interest in working in higher education. Being an OL meant leading students through wonderful academic sessions and social activities. It meant stepping up my game and leading by example. It also meant being challenged. My first group was easy. They loved me because I was sincere. My second group was different. I approached them the same way as my first group but realized that I had to modify my leadership style. I had one student who was quiet the first day. I sat down with them during lunch and talked. They were reconsidering their decision to attend Bentley due to cultural differences. I was honest and shared that I also felt similarly at first, but reassured them that Bentley does have a diverse population. I informed them that there was this wonderful program called ALANA Weekend, where they will have a chance to meet fellow ALANA students. I also recommended that they stop by the Multicultural Center (MCC), which was a home away from home for many ALANA students. It is the reason why I decided to stay at Bentley. It is the reason why I am comfortable being me. My student appreciated my sincerity. A few years later, we talked about this moment and they shared with me that our conversation left a positive impact in their life. If it wasn’t for me checking in, they would not have graduated from Bentley. They were very grateful, which made me feel happy about being an Orientation Leader and an ALANA Peer Leader. Friendship: I met so many people at Bentley. Each of them have made an impact in my life. We have done a lot together. We’ve traveled the world together. We’ve gone through hardships together: break ups, GB301, culture shock, and others. We continue to celebrate great moments together: birthdays bridal showers, weddings, and baby showers. Thank you Bentley College for bringing us together. I love my friends and I could not imagine a world without them.  My Senior Year: My final year at Bentley began 2004. My goal was to graduate with honors. Little did I know senior year was going to be the best time of my life. To start off the year, I successfully strengthen the ALANA weekend program. Along with Claudia Salguero and Jeannette Buntin, both amazing MCC Staff Members, we were able to have a fun, structured, and successful program. Additionally, I took awesome classes, which included: Tourism Management, GB401, Managerial Communication, and Community Involvement. The most amazing Bostonian experience was when the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, after 86 years. I remember the conversations with my friends clearly. After being down 3 games against the Yankees, my friend stated, “So it’s over for the Red Sox, isn’t it?” I responded, “Nope, it’s not over until it’s over. Anything can happen!” Little did I know that my answer foreshadowed amazing results. After that evening, we kept winning. One game after another, until we finally won the American League Championship. We were ecstatic and celebrated as a community. Then came the World Series against St. Louis Cardinals. After the Yankees, the Cardinals were easy. 4-0. It was a big deal. Even my friend who was studying abroad in France came back to Boston to attend the parade. Another wonderful memory was when my group of friends and I went on a 7-day cruise trip during Spring Break. It was the best way to celebrate our senior year together and to confirm that our friendship will last a lifetime. Commencement celebrated the conclusion of one chapter and the start of a new chapter in our lives. My whole family attended: mother, father, grandmother, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, and cousins. I have taken many memorable photos in my life, but the most memorable was the one with my parents and me holding my Bentley College Degree. This photo is a symbol of the hard work and determination my parents had when they made the decision to migrate from Dominican Republic and raise their children in the Land of Opportunity. We experienced some challenges before and during college. Fortunately, we were able to overcome them as a family. This photo symbolizes success for my family and my Latina community. I applied and entered Bentley filled with ideas of becoming an accountant. I left Bentley being more than a Business Woman, I left as a Leader for Life, someone who sees learning as a lifelong journey, and someone who will be a civic agent leaving a positive impact in the world. This photo is everything to me. Congratulations Bentley on celebrating 100 years of developing leaders for life. I will never forget my Bentley Chapter of my life.


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