From left to right, Tom Balestracci, Ashley Kaminski and Jasmine McFarlin following the award ceremony. (image credit: Ashley Kaminski)

On November 2, SNHU’s student-led organization, Coordinators of Activities and Programming Events (CAPE), traveled to Hartford, Connecticut for the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Conference. This conference is dedicated to increasing the leadership capabilities of student programmers while empowering them to bring diverse and unique programming opportunities back to their university. While a meaningful and educational experience for the members who attended, this year’s conference culminated in CAPE executive board member Ashley Kaminski receiving the Ken M. Bedeni Student Leader Award.

This award was established to “recognize the outstanding contributions of the region’s undergraduate student leaders who make a difference in their institutions.” Nominated by CAPE Advisor Tom Balestracci and sophomore Jasmine McFarlin, Ashley, despite serving on the awards committee that reviews the potential nominees, was unaware that she was one of them.

“I had been around the awards committee as well as both people who had nominated me, Tom Balestracci and Jasmine McFarlin, and not once did I even have an idea that I had been nominated for the award, let alone would be receiving it,” said Ashley. “My initial reaction was to just [to] try not to break down and cry in front of everyone as well as just take in the moment and try and remember every single detail because I knew this was not something I would soon forget.”

CAPE at NACA Northeast. (image credit: Student Involvement)

Ashley is currently serving on the CAPE governing executive board as the Publicity Chair for the second consecutive year, filling the Manager Role in the Club Resource Center and fulfilling her position as the Graphics Coordinator for the 2017 NACA Northeast conference that occurred this past weekend.

When asked what set Ashley apart from other nominees, both Tom Balestracci and Jasmine McFarlin shared some insight into the nomination process and why they believed she would be a good fit.

“Ashley carries herself in a very professional, organized manner, while also maintaining a fun and outgoing personality,” shared Jasmine, a CAPE member that has worked closely with Ashley as a student leader and friend.

Tom Balestracci spoke to many of the same qualities, as well as that he noticed them in her upon their initial meeting over two years ago. “I knew [from] the very first day I met her that she would be doing these exact things because of that confidence I first saw in her.”

“I believe Ashley embodies what it means to be a student leader,” he continued. “She goes above and beyond what is asked of her, is always there to lend a helping hand and has made many positive and significant contributions to our community in such a short amount of time. I know I speak on behalf of her peers and my colleagues when I say that Ashley is one of the most positive, confident and hardworking students that we know on our campus.”

Ashley, though completing her junior year and knowing that her senior year is just around the corner, plans to continue moving forward, becoming a stronger leader and creating opportunities for herself and her peers.

“I hope to just make the most of my experience,” said Ashley. “As many student leaders will say, sometimes you get so caught up in the logistics of things and making sure everything is perfect you forget to enjoy the moments…. My goal is to focus on making memories with those who matter and building even stronger relationships with the amazing people around me.”

Ashley concluded sharing her gratitude at the support she has received and how it will continue to push her to continue striving to be the best leader she can.

“I have so many people I would like to thank who have given me such great support and motivation throughout my leadership journey, but I truly don’t think a simple thank you would ever be able to communicate how extremely appreciative I am to have these people in my life. Overall, I am thankful that I attend a university that has put a great deal of effort into hiring professional staff and faculty members who genuinely care about the students and want to see each and every student succeed.”

(image credit: Student Involvement)

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