Carly Montecalvo, a senior Communications major at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, came to school knowing she wanted to make a difference. Now, after being elected President of the SJU chapter of the American Marketing Association, Montecalvo is using her digital marketing skills to assist local non-profits. As a Foley Fellow for The Beautiful Social Research Collaborative (B:Social), she leads teams of students who develop digital media deliverables for community partners.
Montecalvo recently shared how B:Social is making a difference, her largest accomplishment at the organization, and what advice she has for young women looking to be leaders on their campuses.
How are you making an impact on your local community?
I am a Foley Fellow for B:Social, a civic media research collaborative at Saint Joseph’s University. This program works with non-profit partners in the Philadelphia area and beyond by creating digital stories, building web sites, and conducting social media analyses, all free of charge. As a Fellow, I act as a liaison between the community partners and student consultants within the program.
Every semester I am challenged with a new research question, community partner, and group of student consultants who create communication
deliverables that go beyond just a school project. This program gives myself the space to make mistakes, get frustrated, laugh, grow, and learn, all while staying true to the authentic core of creating positive social change.
My short-term goal is to make a difference; my long-term goal is to sustain this difference. B:Social is an organization that aligns these two purposes and allows me to positively influence the communities I'm part of — both my school and my city. Whether it is change in a society, an institution, a group of people, or a single individual, this organization’s vision comes to life with each and every project we complete.
How did you get in this position?
Beautiful Social was one of the reasons I chose to come to Saint Joseph’s University. I was really drawn to the idea of communication for social good, and this ultimately became the determining factor for my college decision. If a program like this was housed in the Communication’s Department, I knew that this major would be the perfect fit for me. With this driving force to become involved in the program as soon as possible, I made sure to take the course as soon as I could. After a meaningful experience in the classroom, I knew I wanted to be a part of the program as a leader to facilitate this same opportunity for more students. After a semester in the course, I applied for the Fellowship, interviewed, and was chosen. I know that B:Social has made such an impact on my college experience, and I truly could not imagine my time at SJU without it.
What other activities, projects, or jobs do you do at school? I'm currently the President of the American Marketing Association at SJU, as well as a contributor to the Hawk Newspaper. I'm a member of Alpha Gamma Delta and I volunteer at the Eye Institute of the Sacred Heart, which provides medical supplies to clinics in Peru. I've also studied abroad in Denmark and South Africa, where I was a foreign correspondent for our school paper covering social justice issues.
What is an accomplishment you're proud of?
As a part of Women’s History Month through our school’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity, I organized a Women’s Panel on behalf of Beautiful Social to contribute to the month’s celebration: “Women’s Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations.” I invited female leaders who worked with nonprofits for a conversation around women in the workplace and leadership. This was something that felt out of my comfort zone. Would anyone show up? Would a positive conversation arise? This event forced me to stay uncomfortable in my position as a Fellow, and continue to challenge myself with new opportunities that contribute to our campus community. The event had a great outcome, with guests contributing in such candid and intentional conversations with the women leaders in an intimate setting. I am beyond proud of the event’s success, but more importantly that the individuals leaving the room left with such a feeling of empowerment.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome as a fellow?
I have experienced many challenges when it comes to managing groups of student consultants in B:Social. Different group member personalities, sometimes difficult clients, and the constant fear of not finishing a project are all obstacles that quite frequently occur.
What advice do you have for women who want to make a difference at their school?
Do it. If you have an idea, a full plan, or just a small thought — and if you want to make a difference — do it without a second thought. There are no rules to your creativity or boundaries for your ideas, just a risk waiting to be taken. The best advice I could give is to have confidence in yourself that you are setting out to make a difference with the purest of intentions. Believe that you can do it, and if you can’t, believe in yourself enough to try again.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? Why?
When I think of a woman who listens with such intent, leads by example, is the hardest worker in the room, and truly just does it all, I think of my mom. She listens to the nonsense that my sisters and I spew, all while challenging us to look at situations from a different perspective. There really is something to be said about someone who never once complains when they may have every reason to, and this has impacted me more than I could have ever realized as I continue to grow and develop into my own version of a leader. Whether it is running an entire surgery day or taking out the trash, she has instilled in myself and those around her the importance of every task to the final outcome, no matter how small it may seem.
Lightning Round: what's your karaoke song?
"Rapper's Delight" by The Sugar Hill Gang (lyrics on screen not necessary!).
Lightning Round: what's your favorite book?
"My Personal Best" by John Wooden.
Lightning Round: what's your favorite movie?
Lightning Round: what's your favorite quote?
"Be where your feet are."
Fairygodboss is all about celebrating female leaders — so each week, we celebrate a young woman who is making a difference in her school or local community. Do you know a student leader who’s making an impact? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.