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By Samantha Mocle

Featured above from left to right: Ashley Carlino, fitness programming assistant (Master of Science in Nutrition for Human Performance); Jordan Aprea '19, athletic communications assistant (Master of Science in Sport Management, Athletic Administration); Yordan Villalon '17, Marketing and Communications Content Producer (Master of Business Administration); Benjamin Lane '19, Intramural and Recreational Sports Assistant (Master of Business Administration) | Photo by Margaret Brochu

On any given day, you might find Jordan Aprea on Taylor Field preparing student scorekeepers for that day's GNAC tournament, as Benjamin Lane heads into the Athletic Center to run a pickup basketball game. Down the block, Ashley Carlino could be running a functional strength training class with Lasell Village residents while Yordan Villalon captures the moment for social media. Lasell University's Graduate Assistantship (GA) program launched this fall with these four master's degree students - among them three undergraduate alumni - in hybrid roles as both student and staff member. They spend 20 hours a week in their GA position while engaging in full-time coursework, but the payoff - tuition remission - is a career game-changer. 

Is the balance of work and school worth it, so far? 

JA: I want to become a sports information director or athletics director, and you need the degree for that. My GA job is exactly the work I want to be doing and my courses intertwine pretty nicely. 

AC: I'm a personal trainer, and if you don't have nutrition education but want to work with weight-loss clients in particular, it can be a hindrance. This program provides the perfect fuse of nutrition background with a personal wellbeing focus. It's a meant-to-be situation. 

BL: I want to become a collegiate athletics director, D3 probably, since that has the most personal relationships. I just finished a class on leadership styles, and I actively tried to think about the examples other students provided to adapt my own behavior. 

YV: I can see the kind of in-depth thinking that you need for a seemingly simple goal. And being on campus and immersed in that atmosphere while taking online courses helps me connect a lot of the material to my role. 

Any unexpected takeaways?

JA: Looking back, I was ungrateful as a student-athlete. You take advantage of the whole process and just play the game. I help with game day setup, coordinate student help, assist with scheduling, push out social media posts ... and it has been eye-opening to see that side.

AC: Fitness levels vary so much at that point in life [at Lasell Village] and so I need to get to know them individually to assess their needs and modify exercises. That experience has been really helpful.

BL: I see a completely different side of things. As a student you take campus activities at face value, but so much goes into one event.

YV: The access to faculty and staff in a completely different capacity has made me appreciate how many people work around the clock to make the student experience what it is.

What makes you happiest in your work?

JA: My favorite part of this job is getting student-athletes recognized by their peers and throughout the GNAC world. Sport management is like giving back. You need those kinds of people for athletics to run smoothly. 

AC: I like being able to directly help people. I've been in roles without that personal impact and really missed that connection. At Lasell, I'm teaching circuit training classes and we're still looking to add more trainings and nutritional consults. 

BL: Through intramural activities I can talk to students about what they like, what we should change or add, and then direct my full attention to the game itself. That kind of open discussion is really fun. 

YV: Being on the marketing and communications team has shown me the kind of atmosphere you can create in a leadership role. I eventually want to be in a C-level position, and I see how you can work purposefully to generate positive energy and collaboration.