Published 04/11/14

Bryant sophomore draws from classroom to make Relay for Life a success

Abigail Blecker '16When Abigail Blecker '16 of Berkeley Heights, NJ, was participating in the Innovation and Design Experience for All (IDEA) program as a first-year student, she never expected she would be putting the skills she learned to use so quickly. Months later, she was named assistant director of Bryant’s Relay for Life. This year, as a sophomore, she is leading one of Bryant’s most popular student-run events.

“Before I came to Bryant, I had no idea that I was going to become a director of an event that changes so many people’s lives,” Blecker says.

"As I was learning about subjects in class, I would say ‘hey, I am actually doing this for Relay.'"

Blecker is the director for Relay for Life, an annual event to raise money to fight cancer. This year, the students already have raised more than $34,000 for the American Cancer Society, with fundraising continuing through August. On April 4, for 12 consecutive hours, more than 550 students took turns walking or running laps around campus.

“Cancer never sleeps,”Blecker says, “and neither do we.”

Bryant’s campus life is designed to enhance students’ learning with an array of co-curricular opportunities through participation in nearly 100 clubs and organizations, community service projects, Division I athletics and more. Coursework is designed to integrate with co-curricular opportunities so students can develop the hands-on experience and real-world understanding that gives them a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Students learn to build effective teams and to manage efforts for maximum impact.

In the IDEA program, a three-day immersion project that encourages innovation and entrepreneurialism, Blecker’s specific assignment was social media. She says, “We made a Massachusetts mall more prominent and well-known through Facebook and Twitter campaigns. And, for Relay for Life, we ended up doing the same thing with specific hashtags and making sure we were all promoting the same message as a group.”

She also credits lessons learned in her current Management 200 class. “As I was learning about subjects in class, I would say ‘hey, I am actually doing this for Relay,’” she recalls, “whether it was understanding the differences between managing and leadership, or grasping the idea that motivation starts from the top down.”

“I was blown away that I could get an opportunity like this so early here at Bryant."

Her Consumer Behavior class also taught her how to market to specific students. Blecker analyzed segments of the student population to determine the best way to market to them. “We had different initiatives for Greek life students and those students who participate in athletics,” she says.

While Blecker knew that she would be involved in leadership opportunities at Bryant, she thought that like at most universities, they would come once she was an upperclassman.

“I was blown away that I could get an opportunity like this so early here at Bryant,” Blecker said.

She credits the success of Relay for Life to Bryant being a tight-knit community.

“Word of mouth is really big at this school,” she says. “I would tell my friends, and then random people would come up to me directly wanting to get involved in the event.  I don’t think you’d be able to experience that at a bigger school.”