Having grown up in Fall River and hoping to expand her creative community, Nicole seems like a natural fit for Groundwork. After mostly working in childcare and human services, she was hoping to find something a bit different for this time in her life. She is a writer (poetry, mostly) and a creative soul, yearning for some change and a way to help contribute to her hometown community. And what better way than becoming a part of the Groundwork team. Read on to find out more about Nicole’s varied professional background and what inspires her.
What led you here? Give us a short summary of your life journey up to this point.
I ended up at Groundwork because I was looking for a change. Until recently, I mostly worked in childcare as a nanny, or the Health and Human Service field as a residential counselor and case manager.
I earned my BSe in Communication Science from Bridgewater State University, thinking I would eventually become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Linguistics was really fascinating to me, but I also loved learning about the physics and neuroscience of speech and language. Bridgewater offered a ton of great opportunities that allowed me to explore these interests. I was a peer tutor, a research assistant, and a student clinician. The last of which ultimately made me realize that I didn’t actually want to be a clinical therapist. That was hard to accept. After spending so much time dedicated to this goal, it felt like college had been a complete waste of time.
Of course, that wasn’t true. The gross expense notwithstanding, I learned so many valuable lessons in college. Like how to trust my creative impulses. I learned to think more deeply about language, which made me a better writer and public speaker. And I gained more confidence in my ability to interact with people, something I was extremely insecure about growing up because I was incredibly shy.
Still, after college I was pretty lost. I continued to nanny and work in HHS for a while but I was eager for something different. I worked as a bartender for a few years while I figured it out, along with some other jobs in retail and customer service.
Then one day I was talking with my sister-in-law about the creative and collaborative culture of New Bedford and how I was yearning for something like that in my life. I love to write, but outside of a few published poems, I’ve struggled to “put myself out there.” A few days later, she told me about the opportunity at Groundwork. I liked the idea of being part of a community of doers. So I reached out to Sarah and here I am. :)
What are some of the things you’ve learned working in the different environments you’ve worked in up to this point?
From children, I learned how to play and be silly and maintain my sense of wonder, curiosity, and imagination. Even though I don’t work in childcare anymore, I have many nieces and nephews and they are some of my favorite people. Kids are the best. They are so honest and unapologetically themselves. I think adults can learn a lot from them.
One of the most valuable things I learned from Communication Science was how to notice nonverbal language. I learned how to listen to what a person doesn’t say because it often speaks much louder than words. This was especially true while working in Health and Human Service where I supported a lot of children and adults who were nonverbal. Yet they could still express themselves and I had to learn how to speak their language. They taught me to be kinder and more patient with people, including myself.
Overall, the most valuable lesson I learned from these experiences was to pay attention and show empathy and curiosity toward others. No matter how young or old or able a person is, we can learn a little something from everyone, and everything we encounter.
What excites you about working at Groundwork?
There are a lot of things I’m excited about. For one, I was born and raised in Fall River so I’m excited to contribute something positive to the city. I love the idea of supporting local artists and businesses, and helping to build an even more collaborative community here.
I’m excited for the learning opportunities this position offers. Whether it’s by connecting with members, attending events, or learning to use some new platform like Canva or WordPress, I’m eager to cultivate more skills that I can apply to my own creative goals.
And I’m super excited that Groundwork Fall River is dog friendly! Hopefully I can start bringing my doggos around soon.
What inspires you right now? What are you listening to, watching, or reading?
I find nature really inspiring. I love being in the woods or near the ocean; gardening and hiking, or just sitting outside watching the natural world. A lot of my writing is inspired by these experiences and the wholesome feeling of not just being in nature, but being nature itself.
I’m really inspired by science too, especially astronomy and physics. I love learning about how the universe works, reflecting on how old and big it is, and especially experiencing the immensity of it. Things like driving through the mountains, or looking at the stars and planets through my telescope, makes me feel so small and humble, and it reminds me not to take life too seriously.
I’ve also been really moved by my two old dogs lately, and animals in general. All the creatures in this world who accept their nature without fuss. Being human is an awesome gift, but it’s difficult at times. We find so many things to complain about. But when I look at these old boys, so content to just be, unbothered by getting older or achieving some goal, I feel more present and grateful, and more accepting of my own nature. I find people who embody this quality to be especially impressive and inspiring, whether they are strangers or intimate friends.
As for television, I’ve been watching Ted Lasso and Shrinking. They are both so funny and heart-felt. Apple TV has been crushing it lately. I mean, have you seen Severance? Incredible. I love weird, mind-bending stuff like that, and I LOVE science fiction. Doctor Who, Star Trek, Rick and Morty, Foundation, the list goes on. I love sci-fi literature too. I’m a big reader and will pick up practically anything but I’m drawn to books that can teach me something or make me think in a new way. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of philosophy and children’s classics. And a lot of Isaac Asimov. I’m also re-reading The Handmaid’s Tale, this time with my bookclub. Honestly, I could talk about books all day. So if you’re looking to procrastinate, just come ask me what I’ve been reading!
What skills or experience are you looking forward to sharing with our members?
The women in my book club say that I’m good at facilitating interesting discussions and contributing fun ideas to engage the group. So I’m looking forward to applying some of that to my role at Groundwork, whether specifically toward the member book club or in a general way, like creating interactive chalkboard art. I’m also looking forward to sharing my unsolicited book suggestions with everyone :)
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