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You Can B Cariñosa — Melania Vargas Gurdian

"You Can B Cariñosa —Melania Vargas Gurdian ('22, Marketing)

Melania Vargas Gurdian left her home country of Nicaragua in the middle of a political revolution to start her freshman year at Bentley, and at first, she struggled to fit in. She originally thought she would feel most comfortable within Bentley’s Latino community since this is what she had grown up around. But Mel has grown the most as a person when she gets to know and learn from others who are quite different from her. She has come to appreciate how important it is to be cariñosa, a word she uses to describe someone who is caring in Spanish.

Melania is currently the manager of Today ‘n Tonight (TNT) as well as the Social Chair of Delta Sigma Pi, two involvements she did not expect to be a part of. She previously worked as an Event Coordinator for TNT for only a semester, so she did not anticipate stepping into a leadership role so quickly. Her supervisor believed that she was a great candidate for the position, and Mel has been “really happy with the results.” She also never envisioned herself becoming a member of Greek life, and for a long time did not even understand what it truly was. The moment everything began to click for Mel was at a “Speed Dating” event while rushing the business fraternity, because she was able to “break the barrier” and connect with a new group of people so easily for the first time in her life.

As a manager of TNT, Mel has learned that in order to be an effective leader, you have to become an effective delegator. She considers herself a perfectionist and would happily take on many tasks. But Mel also recognizes the strengths of the people on her team and can recognize what differences and talents they all bring to the table. When you put trust in another person, they will live up to the challenge. The secret to being the leader and delegator she is? Mel puts connection first, and values getting to know people on a deeper level. She knows the importance of empathy, and has reinforced this strength in the classroom, like in an emotional intelligence class, and outside of the classroom, like while forming relationships in Delta Sigma Pi. Mel owes “DSP most of [her] friendships in college.” She is thankful to have been exposed to such a diverse group of people, but even in a room full of people who are so different, there is always something she can find in common with someone else. Mel has always known she is a talkative person, and for a while at Bentley, she tried to suppress this trait of hers since she felt embarrassed. But now, she embraces it. Putting herself out there and getting to know someone personally is like a “superpower” to Mel.

One of Melania’s proudest accomplishments has been the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion event she coordinated for DSP. She recognized that the chapter could benefit from this kind of event, and she worked to see it come to fruition. Mel recruited a professor as a guest speaker and fostered a safe space for meaningful conversation. Melania's initiative allowed people, some of whom she did not even know as they were still rushing the fraternity, to open up to one another. “I cried that day,” Mel said, because she learned that “tough conversations are better had than held inside.”

Melania would advise others to listen to other people’s stories as often as possible. Whether it is your closest friend or the stranger that sits next to you in class. “You don’t know how much you have in common until you talk to them.” She believes in surrounding herself with others who are also motivated and will uplift each other. The quote, “I work to make the mountain taller so women after me can see further” drives Melania to achieve more and to lift herself and others to new heights. She has come to recognize and appreciate just how talented she is, and always seeks to apply her talents to make others smile.

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