Heretics Brown Bag: COVE Leadership Speaks

“I believe in crying as an art form, and I wear my heart on my sleeve,” Office Manager of the Max A. Shacknai Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE) Colleen Nassimos warned at the beginning of her talk at Heretics Club on Thursday, April 3. Titled “The Job That Changed My Life,” Nassimos spoke sincerely and emotionally about her past 22 years at Colgate working at the COVE.

Nassimos shared that in high school, as far as she was concerned, you worked hard to make money so that you could do what you really enjoyed in your free time – it never occurred to her that someone could actually enjoy their job. Though she did foster a dream of becoming a writer, her high school guidance counselor decisively quashed it, suggesting accounting or secretarial work instead.

“No matter how old you get you will find people who will put you down for the sole purpose of lifting themselves up,” Nassimos said. “But there is no place in a happy life for holding a grudge.”

Nassimos described the pain of knowing that he had made this assessment based on a superficial judgment of her, founded on the reputation of her four older siblings and her alcoholic father. So, with her aspirations thoroughly crushed, Nassimos embarked on a life that valued working hard and living for the weekend. It only took a few years, however, for her to realize that such a life was not satisfying. Enduring poorly-intentioned male co-workers was no longer worth the money, and so, at the age of 26, Nassimos came to Colgate.

“I felt like I had discovered some kind of secret. I worked with a purpose, with real goals, and I learned things about myself, about the people around me and about the world,” Nassimos said about her initial move to the COVE.

“There are all kinds of ways to do good in your life, find what works for you and go with it,” Nassimos said. For her, doing good meant working at the COVE.

Working at the COVE proved to be an eye-opening experience for Nassimos, shifting her local worldview to one that was global in scope. Reflecting on her years at the COVE, Nassimos shared some gems of wisdom in a powerful list to Heretics Club.

“Being kind to yourself is a natural progression of being kind to others,” Nassimos said. “If we pay attention and listen carefully we can change a person’s path.”

Nassimos elaborated on a few of the pieces of advice and knowledge, including her declaration that it is possible to have a relationship with someone regardless of language barriers. The source of this wisdom was an alternative spring break COVE trip to the Dominican Republic, during which she connected with a

native woman who had gone to great lengths to ensure that her child was born without HIV. This exchange happened entirely through a translator.

Nassimos concluded the talk by urging students to take advantage of the resources available to them, furthering good in the world.

Heretics Lunch is a weekly brown bag that takes place in the Memorial Chapel basement every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. This semester’s theme is “The ______ That Changed My Life.” Next week will feature Vice President and Dean of the College Suzy Nelson giving the talk “Providence While Pumping Gas: Can Small Acts of Kindness Change Our Lives?”