When Aubrie Brault ’15 applied for an Endeavor Scholarship, she realized that it would entail leadership training and a commitment to service, in addition to maintaining good grades. She has balanced a double major in English—Writing, Rhetoric & Communication and Literature & Criticism—with internships, community service, and a position as an Admissions Ambassador.
Aubrie recently completed a marketing internship at the historic Zeiterion Theater in her hometown, New Bedford. This year, she started the Students Helping Students food pantry for UMass Dartmouth students feeling food insecurity.
Aubrie plans to complete her master's degree in professional writing at UMass Dartmouth.
Why did you choose to double-major in both writing and literature?
I was originally a business major and although the program is amazing here, I found it wasn’t suited to my personality or learning style. As a freshman, I took a weekend to do some soul-searching and came out realizing that as an undergrad what could be better than developing my reading and writing skills? I know the real world wants problem solvers, and studying English would provide the perfect opportunity to sharpen my critical thinking and communication skills. So I switched my major to writing.
I added the literature degree in the spring, because I was inspired by literature professor Laurel Hankins. She approached me after class one day and asked if I had ever considered literature as my major. She said that I was very strong in literary analysis, and she could tell I enjoyed deconstructing and exploring theories in class. This minute-long conversation inspired me to become a dual major.
Tell us about your most recent internship.
As a dual major in English, I had the strange experience of having my last semester heavily focused on my literature requirements. I wanted to get back to communications or an opportunity close to that, such as marketing. My internship really allowed me to sharpen my writing abilities.
I worked on a variety of publicity projects, such as reaching out to talent agencies about media and press for the upcoming season’s acts and performers. I really enjoyed this project, because I did my own background research to write profile blurbs about the performers. Learning about such an eclectic pool of talents was eye-opening and reminded me of what I might miss when I don’t keep in touch with what’s going on right in my own city.
What were some of the benefits?
I think the biggest benefit was the people I was fortunate enough to work with. The marketing director eased me into the program smoothly, but also trusted me with a good deal of responsibility. I looked forward to contributing creative work that I know they valued.
The writing required me to consider target audiences and to find the appropriate voice for the content—variables that were key in preparing me for future public relations and consultant opportunities. I also learned a lot about the corporate world, specifically on which platforms they operate, how they use analytical technologies, and how they try to keep up with the ever-evolving world of technology. The latter may prove the most important, as new applications and tools are being created almost every day, it seems, to help businesses on so many levels.
This internship provided me with insight into the skillset required of professionals in arts marketing. It gave me a platform to practice these skills effectively, so that I could gain experience for future career opportunities.
What has been your experience as an Endeavor Scholar?
The benefits have been exponential. I’m not sure I could even imagine who I would be without this scholarship, as extreme as that may sound. It has catapulted me into experiences that I never would have come across otherwise. From the people I've been so fortunate to meet in the program to those we are able to help, the benefits of being an Endeavor Scholar far outweigh anything I could have imagined.
Truthfully, the requirements are difficult, but in the best way possible. With the exception of our first semester, we’re required to do community service, with the hours increasing each semester. For example, my junior year, I was volunteering about 140 hours per semester, which is about 10 hours per week, with United Way of Greater New Bedford, where I currently intern year-round.
The most significant outcome of my community service has been connecting people in the area to ongoing volunteer opportunities and motivating them to get involved. I really appreciate helping families in need during the holiday season. Every year, the United Way teams up with the New Bedford Firefighters' Union, and I help organize this event. Last year, we donated more than 2,000 toys to less fortunate families.
In addition to service hours, Endeavor Scholars enroll in leadership courses, workshops, and immersion weekends. Our requirements revolve around committing ourselves to the community in ways that create positive impact in our surroundings and allow us to advance to greater leadership positions.
Because of my experiences in this program, I’ve cultivated my sense of what it means to give back to the community. I know that for the rest of my life, I’ll donate part of my time and efforts to community service.
How do you like being an Admissions Ambassador?
It’s been wonderful. I get to share how much this university has to offer and what an experience it can be to others. Along the tours, I get to tell students and their families a lot, but most importantly I tell them that it’s not the buildings that make an experience but the people.
I was born and raised “right down the street” so on mere principle I initially refused to consider a campus so close to home, but I’m glad I changed my mind because looking back, it was the best decision I ever made.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I would say my greatest challenge is balance—reminding myself that it’s okay to have down time, to just hang out a little. Really, that’s just as important as working hard.
With so much on our plates, we students can easily run ourselves into the ground when all we need to do is plan a little time for ourselves, so that we can be well-rested for our busiest days.