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Students Who Soar: Student Finds Passion, Confidence through Buffalo State Experience

Students Who Soar: Student Finds Passion, Confidence through Buffalo State Experience

Posted: December 15, 2017

When Berthlyne Francois began her first year at Buffalo State, she struggled in a few classes, wasn’t sure what career path to pursue, and was reluctant to get involved.

Flash forward four years and Francois, now a senior, is a confident campus leader who found her calling. After graduating in December 2018, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in speech-language pathology.

“I’d like to do speech therapy with children, and, eventually, open my own practice in an area that doesn’t have a speech clinic,” said Francois, who hails from Queens, New York. “I want to give back to a community in need.”

How did she make this transition?

First, she took a variety of classes that helped her realize where her strengths lie. At the end of her freshman year, she changed her major from biology to psychology, although she kept biology as a minor and added a second minor in forensic anthropology.

“I like how psychology is so broad you can really do anything with it,” she said. “I’m into child development, so I focused on that aspect of it. Most of my major and minors fit the prerequisites for the speech-language pathology graduate program at Buffalo State, which is one of my choices.”

She said students shouldn’t worry if they don’t know what they want to do.

“College is about learning what you like and what you don’t like,’ she said. “You’re not necessarily going to figure it out all at once.”

Second, leadership roles she landed within United Students Government (USG) and the campus’s Commuter Ambassador Program help pushed Francois out of her “little bubble.” And, she said, USG and Student Life Office staff members supported and motivated her. 

“I’m able to speak in front of huge crowds now and interact with students without a problem,” said Francois who serves as USG’s assistant vice president for public relations and head ambassador for the commuter program. She previously served as a senator for USG.

Working with both organizations developed her confidence.

“I’m more outspoken and take more initiative now,” Francois said. “I’ve become a role model for other students. It’s nice to know that people would actually come to me for advice and decision-making with any kind of issue or problem they may have.”

She would encourage students to join campus organizations to make friends, have fun, and network.

“If you’re always hitting the books or sitting in your room, it’s going to get a little overwhelming. You need to do things to destress. Joining extracurricular clubs and organizations will definitely help with that,” she said. “Networking with different faculty and staff will help you, too, especially when it comes to recommendations. You want to gain those connections so you can get better opportunities in the future.

“I learned early on that not everything is given to you, especially in college. You have to go out and look for it. Being at Buffalo State pushed me to do that.”

Now the once shy student who hadn’t even seen the Buffalo State campus prior to enrolling can’t imagine herself anywhere else. She has a wide circle of friends and a bright future ahead.

“Success to me is being a leader and being on top of my game,” she said. “Also, having a plan and knowing that I’m going to execute it.”

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