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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

January 15, 2020

More Than Words Logo

Psychology major Madison Kasperski '21 is an intern at More Than Words -- a social enterprise based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that empowers young adults. She is one of several Lasell University students and alumni who have used the cross-institutional partnership to better understand youth resilience, social work, entrepreneurship, and leadership.

The local nonprofit serves at-risk youth between the ages of 16 and 24 who have been or are currently experiencing homelessness, foster care, court-involvement, and/or are out of school. Each young adult works approximately 20 hours per week, according to the More Than Words website, and spends that time managing the online, retail, pop-up, and wholesale aspects of the organization's bookselling business. Those revenue-generating tasks are coupled with a powerful life-skills curriculum that each young adult must participate in.  

That's where Kasperski comes in. As an intern, she runs individual courses on opening a bank account, developing financial literacy, starting a career, and public speaking. In addition, she works with the youth employees to help them take on managerial roles within the organization.  

"The most impactful part is knowing what each participant has overcome and seeing their accomplishments," she says. "I have learned to never underestimate anyone despite the reality of their lives."  

Kasperski's supervisor is Zachary Berkowitz, associate director of youth development. Her humble approach to the work, he says, is what makes her successful in the role.  

"She comes in every day ... mindful of the community we serve. She is present with a flexible mindset, her number one priority being the young people we give assistance to and develop," he says.  

For alumna Sabrina Skenyon '18, a similar internship experience helped her identify the constituency she wishes to focus on as a social worker.  

"Looking back, I can see that I was given so many learning opportunities while I was there. I feel very lucky to have gotten that experience as an undergraduate student," she says.  

Skenyon is now a graduate student studying social work at Columbia University. She attributes her success at the New York-based Ivy League institution to her Connected Learning experience at Lasell, made possible by her internship at More Than Words.  

More Than Words is located at 56 Felton Street in Waltham, Massachusetts and at 242 East Berkeley Street in Boston. The nonprofit was named eBay's small business of the year, and was recently profiled on Channel 5 News and NBC Boston 10