Olivia Reposa graduated from Middlesex Community College in December as a Liberal Arts & Sciences major. When she first came to Middlesex in the fall of 2017, she was hesitant to extend herself beyond taking classes. The community that MCC offers that altered her mindset and helped transform her education. The following is her MCC story in her own words.
I remember my first day at MCC because I wanted to be invisible. Two months prior, my entire life had turned upside down. I moved across the country, leaving behind my life, family members and self-confidence.
Ducking my head two rows back in History class, I was ready to spend the next two years of my life as “the quiet kid.” MCC however had other ideas.
The first day of my Honors Macroeconomics class, I was thrown into an environment where everyone cared — and, suddenly, I realized that I cared, too.
Eight months later, I boarded a plane to Florida accompanied by five of my fellow Business Club members and Professor Vikram Sharma. I had recently taken over as president of the Business and Economics club. With the help of Professor Rob Kaulfuss, we had grown the club into one of the largest and most active student organizations on campus.
Now, we were on our way to DECA Internationals.
The conference represented more than 10,000 finalists from across the world. Despite the staggering size of the competition, we were one of the only community colleges to make it to the international event. Nevertheless, we were determined for our voices to be heard.
Andre De’Gregorio, one of my fellow club members, and I were elected as Massachusetts voting delegates, which allowed us to advocate for our fellow community-college students across the international stage.
I was proud to represent my college because, in a lot of ways, it had become my second home. Taking on leadership roles in the Business and Economics Club, as well as the Philosophy Club, allowed me to find my place.
Past my involvement in clubs, I had become a Statistics supplemental instructor after falling in love with the subject during Professor Hayat Weiss’ Statistics class. My role as an SI opened doors of opportunity, as well as doors of community.
I found a second family at MCC through the Academic Center for Enrichment. Beth Kelley and Christine Bell are incredible people with whom any student is lucky to have the opportunity to work. Furthermore, as an SI, I had accomplished the “impossible” — bringing together an amazing group of students who were actually excited to learn statistics at 8 a.
One of the single most defining moments of my life came my last semester at MCC. I stood on stage at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — full suit, microphone in hand, ready to present my company, VotED, to the world. I realized on that stage that I was no longer the girl who wanted to be invisible. Instead, I was the person who was ready to speak, ready to be seen, ready for my voice to be heard.
However, the difference I was striving to make didn’t start on stage at MIT. Rather, it all started in a classroom in Henderson Hall through the incredible DifferenceMaker program led by Professor Stacie Hargis. Through the program, my business partner, Mike Dignan, and I developed our idea into reality, learning how to create a business and pitch our ideas to a panel of experts.
We went on to win the 2019 National DifferenceMaker social-impact award. From there, VotED was picked up by a local TV network. Mike and I appeared as guest stars on a talk show, spoke at various startup events, and even had an opportunity to speak to a group of a couple thousand high-school seniors at a UMass Lowell event.
Almost a year after completing the DifferenceMaker Program, we were selected as one of the five companies to present at MIT Enterprise Night. In the past 10 years of the event’s history, we are the only community-college students to be selected.
I assure you our success was accompanied by many long days and all-nighters, but it was also brought together by the incredible community that supported us — a community I never would have found without MCC.
When it comes to my post-MCC life, I was recently named the regional director of a GOTV (Get Out the Vote) campaign, and I am currently working as a digital-campaign specialist for a progressive political firm to make various issue-based campaigns go digital. I have also been doing some mentoring with different startup companies and free online tutoring for kids in low-income areas, all of which have been tremendously rewarding experiences.
I plan on continuing my education this fall at Middlebury College with a proposed double major in Economics and Political Science. I am beyond grateful for where I am today — although I can honestly say I never thought I would get here.
Thank you to every single person at MCC for allowing me the opportunity to do the impossible, be the impossible and become a part of something bigger than just myself.
Originally from Parkland, Fla., Reposa now lives in Carlisle.