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A Summer Like No Other

August 19, 2020

Summer is the perfect time to create memories while taking on new physical and mental challenges. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, options may seem limited on the surface - but these Lasell students made the most of their time between semesters to recharge and explore new opportunities. 

Omar Jimenez Soto '23 at the beach during summer 2020Omar Jimenez Soto '23 went to the beach more than he ever has before (pictured right) - and that's on top of his job as an administrative assistant at Mamés VELA, a scholars program offered through Amherst Regional Middle School; shift leader at Dunkin'; and Lasell orientation leader (OL). In addition, he spent time honing his skills in Excel and developing tips for human resources departments. "I was really able to improve my professional skills this summer, especially in hospitality in my new position at Dunkin'," he said. 

Mahima Pate '23 made new memories with old friends. Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth, Massachusetts, was the perfect setting for them to social distance while catching up. "We watched the sunset with ice cream from Somerset Creamery. It was the first time we saw each other since coming back home from our respective schools," she says. "It took my mind off of the serious situation and allowed me to relax." 

Cameron Pensak '21 attended the American Civil Liberties Union's National Advocacy Institute via Zoom. "During our first panel, we were introduced to Gavin Grimm - I became excited when I realized that I had studied and presented on Grimm's case, G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, in my capstone class less than a year ago!" said Pensak.

Other highlights of the ACLU institute included meetings and panels with Amber Hikes, chief equity and inclusion officer; Michelle Alexander, civil rights advocate and author of The New Jim Crow; and Kerry Washington, actress and producer of The Fight. During that panel, says Pensak, "I was one of the lucky participants chosen to ask a question about the film. I can't describe how amazing it was to be on the same screen as them, let alone to have Washington, Lee Gelernt, and Jeffery Robinson answer my question."

Pensak met other youth advocates through the institute and created a book club to continue conversations in the future. "I learned a lot about being an advocate. I cannot wait to share what I learned in my classes this fall and use that knowledge to help improve my community."

Amanda Miller and Lasell University Orientation Leaders on a virtual training in summer 2020Amanda Miller '21 participated in Lasell's first virtual orientation as an OL (pictured left). "It was really interesting to see how creative we had to be in order to ensure that every incoming student felt connected to Lasell." In 2019, Miller interned at the Boys and Girls Club of New Bedford, and chose to repeat the role this year. "We have to make summer fun for the kids while maintaining social distance," she says. When not working, she invested her time in surfing (pictured below), sharing that it has been a "highlight" of her summer: "When you're catching waves, you have no choice but to focus on what you're doing in the water. It's an awesome escape!"

Amanda Miller, a Lasell student, surfing in summer of 2020