Published 08/13/10

At Bryant, students discover their passion

August 13, 2010

At the beginning of the spring semester, Leo Kozyrev ’12 (Pawtucket, RI) and his Management 200 group started their service learning project with CARE, a leading humanitarian organization dedicated to fighting global poverty.

After a semester of raising awareness to the work of CARE, Kozyrev was invited to the organization’s national conference in Washington, D.C. There he had the opportunity to share the group’s message of fighting poverty and empowering women – and advocate the passage of legislation supported by CARE – with Rhode Island’s United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.

“I feel like this trip has changed my perspective on life,” says Kozyrev, who joined nearly 1,000 attendees at the conference. “As important as one’s career and livelihood may be, we should realize it is just as important to help others.”

Kozyrev says some of the most inspiring moments of the two-day program came during talks given by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the wife of the Prime Minister of Kenya.

“It is extremely critical for us as students to go out and explore what our passions are while we have unlimited opportunities to do so,” he says.

By the end of the conference, Kozyrev, a finance concentrator, was interested in learning more about possible career paths working in the non-profit sector. “One day, I would love to work for an organization like CARE that literally saves human lives every single day,” says Kozyrev.

Assistant Management Professor Eileen Kwesiga, Kozyrev’s instructor, hopes to help connect him with organizations with similar missions. “These projects can serve as a catalyst to help enlighten students about opportunities in the non-profit realm that they might not have thought of,” she says.

Rubbing elbows with the experts

Another group of Bryant students traveled to our nation’s capital during the spring to take part in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Five members of the Bryant Republicans joined 10,000 people at the largest annual gathering of conservatives nationwide.

Nick Denice ’11 (West Warwick, RI) had the opportunity to personally talk to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Rhode Island State Representative and congressional candidate John Loughlin, and former Comptroller General David Walker, who spoke at Bryant in April 2009.

“Being able to hear the collective wisdom on the issues of the day while a college student was both exciting and gratifying,” he says.

Other speakers included congressmen, senators, top TV and radio personalities, governors, bloggers, as well as past Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

For Gabriella Rossi ’12 (Howell, NJ), her involvement with the Bryant Republicans provided an opportunity for her to campaign for John McCain in New Hampshire leading up to the 2008 presidential election. She attended the CPAC the last two years.

“Through research and listening to the ideas and opinions of others we can find the best solutions,” she says.  “Attending CPAC has further sparked my interest in politics.”

Exploring your passion

Like Kozyrev, Denice believes the college years present a time, as he says, to “find a question that makes the world interesting.”

“One of the main principles of a college education is to have the time to explore and find what you are passionate about,” says Denice. “It is important to find topics that you are interested enough in where learning is not a chore.”

Denice has found his real interest intersects politics and tax policy. The accounting concentrator’s Honors Program Senior Capstone Project, which he will present next April, is researching the implications of exemptions in the Rhode Island Sales Tax.

He has since started a blog a to share his thoughts and research, and he ultimately hopes to develop a proposal that will provide a more stable revenue stream, lower the tax rate, and improve both state and municipal governance in Rhode Island.

“Bryant has provided me,” says Denice, “with opportunities for intellectual development both inside and outside the classroom.”