The art of leadership

The art of leadership

Academics, campus involvement paved the way for Engineering’s Nicolette Camishion

At Rowan University, Nicolette Camishion turned campus involvement—and campus leadership—into nothing short of an art form.

That’s not surprising since the civil and environmental engineering major was thisclose to becoming an art major.

“I was really torn between art and engineering,” says Camishion, 22, who earned her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Rowan’s Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering on Friday, May 13.

“In the end, I decided I couldn’t be an artist and pursue engineering. But I could be an engineer and do art. There’s no box to stay in. It’s a choice to be creative.”

With broad, bold brush strokes, Camishion created her undergraduate career class by class, club by club, activity by activity, opportunity by opportunity.

Co-founder of the ProfPack

She started with the ProfPack, a University-wide spirit group Camishion co-founded her freshman year. Sporting Rowan gear, face paint and oodles of University pride, the group attends sporting events for Profs athletic teams. Former president of the group, Camishion also was one of the chief face painters, mastering the fine art of paint-to-epidermis like a pro.

“ProfPack was a huge part of my four years here,” says Camishion. “It’s a physical legacy. We had fun creating something that hadn’t been done before.”

Camishion has a knack for such things. Her involvement in the Freshman Leadership Involvement Program (FLIP) led to her work as a mentor for Leadership Rowan. An initiative through the Office of Orientation and Student Leadership Programs, Leadership Rowan provides programs and services to help students prepare for leadership roles on campus, in their community and in their future endeavors.Camishion was one of the first students hired as a program assistant for Leadership Rowan.

‘She inspires others to lead’

“Nicolette sustained her leadership involvement at Rowan all four years,” says Drew Tinnin, senior director of OSLP. “Because of what she brought to the Leadership Mentors program, we expanded it. She inspires other students to lead.”

Camishion took a huge role in the development of the ProfTalks program. Modeled after TED Talks, ProfTalks bring together members of the Rowan community—students, faculty, staff, administrators—to discuss a common theme in an informal gathering. This year, 16 ProfTalks were held. Camishion helped to develop themes and recruit campus-wide speakers on areas such as sports leadership, mental health, disability awareness, thankfulness, and women in leadership.

“Leadership Rowan helped me grow the most,” says Camishion, who also was an admissions ambassador and a class senator for the Student Government Association. “It helped me meet a wide variety of students and to learn that everyone has a different leadership style.

“I also was able to see other people grow, watch them shine, and have their own successes.”

Habitat for Humanity

That resonates with Camishion, who served on Gloucester County Habitat for Humanity’s Board of Directors and on the Rowan Habitat’s executive board. There was something profound about volunteering to help someone have a home, the Riverside resident and 2012 Holy Cross High School graduate says.

“It was incredible—a great way to be involved in ‘engineering building,’” she says. “I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty and I felt like I was literally helping someone’s life. It was a very heart-warming experience.”

In September, Camishion will begin working as a safety field engineer with Mortenson Construction Company, a large-scale construction firm with 11 regional headquarters in the U.S. and additional offices throughout the nation and in Canada. She landed the position through her involvement in the Society of Women Engineers.

“I could be placed in one of 42 states,” says Camishion, who is hoping the position will give her opportunities for advancement.

“It’s a very family-oriented company, which is rare in such a large company,” continues Camishion, who has served as an engineering and architecture student trainee for the U.S. Army at the Aberdeen Testing Center Safety Process Improvement Division in Maryland. Additionally, she was a civil engineering intern with Rodriguez Consulting in Mullica Hill and worked as a research assistant for engineering professors William Riddell and Douglas Cleary.

“All of the vice presidents and executives at Mortenson get out and come to the work sites. They’re very involved in the company. I respect that. I think I’m going to have a lot of room to grow there.”

‘I know the summer is going to change my life’

A 70-day, 4,700-mile bicycle trip this summer will help her grow as well, she says. On June 5, Camishion will begin the 4K for Cancer from Baltimore to San Diego. The trip, which she’ll take as part of a 24-member team, will benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

Bitten by the travel bug, Camishion used to joke that she was going to tour the United States in a Volkswagen bus. But, inspired by the 4K rides of Rowan alumni Anasymone Salib and Jaime Kisthardt, she decided the ride was a perfect way to celebrate Commencement while, at the same time, assisting young adults with cancer.

Three other Rowan students—Alex Azar, a senior accounting and finance major, Caitlin Morgan, a senior sociology major, and Alex LaVallee, a junior public relations major—are all completing the 4K for Cancer this summer as well.  They’ll ride from Baltimore to Portland

“I know the summer is going to change my life,” says Camishion, who is shaving her head later this month in preparation. “This gives me the chance to have an amazing experience and to give something to someone else.

“I’ve always wanted to find a way to get across the country. The travel aspect is awesome, but riding the 4K will be impactful.”

During the ride, which she’ll complete on hybrid Trek Lexa bicycle, the team will bicycle for 60 days, but, also, stop at cancer treatment centers for 10 days along the way.

“We’ll actually get to see the impact we’re making,” she says. “Young adults who get cancer are at the time of their lives when they’re just starting out. I get the opportunity to have an awesome experience, but also get to help them while they’re getting their diagnosis and treatments.

“I think the ride is going to be very humbling for me. I view it as an amazing start to the next part of my life.”

From academics to extracurriculars, Camishion squeezed every ounce out of her Rowan education and gave plenty back, says Gary Baker, assistant director of Leadership Rowan.

“Other students see her as a mentor and a role model and they learn from her,” says Baker, who marvels at Camishion’s ability to stay organized and focused on each of her activities. “She’s one of the best leaders you’ll ever meet.”