Experiencing all that college has to offer can put a student in a precarious situation, as Bianca Bellot learned upon finding herself 25 feet in the air as part of a leadership training course.

“I looked at the ground, and my knees started shaking, but everyone was yelling words of encouragement,” she recalls. “I made it to the end of the high ropes course and zip-lined past a group of cheering Suffolk resident assistants.”

Bellot, recently named a Massachusetts “Rising Star” in recognition of her leadership on campus, faced down the high ropes challenge during a two-day course for resident assistants and Residence Life and Housing professional staff held this past summer in the woods of New Hampshire. The training was designed to build relationships, define individual and collective strengths, and gain leadership skills.

Student and professor recognized

Bellot, a McNair Scholar studying Sociology, has been a Suffolk orientation leader and a resident assistant. She received the “Catch a Rising Star” award at a regional conference for NASPA, an organization of student affairs administrators in higher education.

The organization also honored Tryan McMickens, an assistant professor in the Administration of Higher Education program. He received a NASPA Network for Education Equity and Ethnic Diversity Award.

Building confidence

Bellot describes her award as a symbol of her continued growth as a college student. “Prior coming to Suffolk, I was a shy, introverted person who didn’t advocate for myself,” she says. “But once I became involved on campus, that all changed.

“I became more confident because I was surrounded by people who supported me and helped prepare me to be the student affairs professional I hope to be.”

Bellot plans to attend graduate school and then work in student affairs at the collegiate level.

“My goal is to make an impact on student lives by helping them learn in a fun and safe environment,” she says.

Mentoring relationship

One of those who guided Bellot is Associate Dean of Students Rich DeCapua, who presented Bellot with her NASPA award.

“He has always encouraged me to be open-minded and think outside the box,” she says.

“Bianca already looks at issues affecting student affairs through a lens that signals her maturity and intelligence,” says DeCapua. “This is the beginning of what I am sure will be a wonderful and fruitful career in higher education.”

"My second home"

As a senior reminiscing about her Suffolk experience, Bellot says: “I asked myself, ‘Did I do everything I wanted to do as a Suffolk student?’ The answer was yes.

"The relationships I have made with peers, student leaders, and academic and professional staff have made Suffolk feel like my second home.”