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Junior Expands Leadership Skills at National Conference


The opportunity to immerse herself in leadership training has Brianne O’Rourke ’18 of Piseco, N.Y., not only poised and ready to take on her new responsibility this fall as the student trustee for MCLA’s Board of Trustees, it completely changed her career plans.

Recently returned from five days at the National Education for Women (NEW) Leadership New England residential program for undergraduates, O’Rourke said, “Some of my favorite pieces of the conference were meeting with different powerful women in their fields – such as in nonprofits, law, business, reporting and politics. It was inspiring to learn what these women did to come to where they are today.”

At the conference, held at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., O’Rouke met a number of successful women who are political leaders, including New Hampshire senators, house representatives, and New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy.

Back at MCLA, O’Rourke majors in business administration, with a concentration in accounting. Prior to attending the conference, O’Rourke planned to become a certified public accountant, with a career in taxes or auditing.

“After the conference, I realized that I want to have an impact beyond that,” O’Rourke said. “I learned that I can pursue as many career paths as I want. Some of the women who spoke with us had had up to five or six different careers in their life. I found that to be a totally new concept.”

Now, she is considering going to law school to become an attorney who works with estate planning, tax law and business law.

“My main goal is to make a difference in the world,” she explained. “Many of the women who spoke with the group of young women leaders talked about how they spend much of their time volunteering in their communities, and, as I already volunteer now, I now know I will continue that for the rest of my life.”

O'Rourke picked MCLA because, from the moment she stepped on campus, it felt like home. “I love the small campus atmosphere and – especially as a business major – I love how affordable it is.” She recommends MCLA’s business program to others.

“The faculty all have real-life experience in the business world, which sets them apart from an institution whose professors might only have the ‘book definitions’ of how to be in business. The professors whom I have taken accounting classes with have all been certified public accountants. This allows them to talk about real issues.”

In addition to attending the NEW conference and her upcoming position as student trustee, O’Rourke served as the treasurer for the Student Government Association (SGA). She also is a tutor, an Admissions Ambassador, and, as a member of MCLA’s women’s volleyball team, a student-athlete mentor.

These experiences, she said, allow her to interact with a broad group of students, and to help others enhance their college experience.

However, the best part of being an MCLA student, O’Rourke said, is the plethora of opportunities available to her on campus.

“The small school setting allows students to get involved in many different things that one might not be able to do at a larger school,” she explained. “The faculty and staff get to learn who you are, and what you can accomplish, and they push you to be the best that you can be.”