A night of comedy and motivation was what James Robilotta offered Keene State College students to start off “Shhhh…ARK week!” His voice yelled, “What’s poppin’ people? How we doin’?” to start a night of laughs and empowerment.
Residence Hall Organization, RHO, sponsored the event which took place on Feb. 18 in the Mabel Brown Room. Robilotta is a leadership speaker and the advisor for New Jersey City University’s Student Government. This was Robilotta’s first time at KSC.
“The idea of this whole Shhh…ARK Week is pretty awesome. So I was really excited when Kate [Chimienti] and Jana [Jacobson] asked me to be a part of it,” Robilotta said.
Senior Kate Chimienti has been the RHO president for two years.
“We really wanted to do an event that would give back to the community of Keene State [College],” Chimienti said.
“Shhhh…ARK Week” stands for “Shhh Acts of Random Kindness. It is a week full of surprises for the KSC students, put on by RHO, to bring people together more, and to promote random acts of kindness to improve and give back to the college community.
Chimienti said she wanted to start the week off with speaker Robilotta to give the essence of empowerment throughout the week. Robilotta said, “I’m hoping that I started the ball off right for the week, and that people are going to start doing these random acts of kindness for each other around campus.”
Robilotta became a leadership speaker to help empower people through comedy. “I love the opportunity to inspire others through laughter and authentic leadership,” Robilotta said. This and his love of being on stage gave him the power to give other people the same attitude. “I think the reason why I even chose a field of working in student affairs is because I love college students,” Robilotta said. “I think students in high school sort of figure out who they are, but in college you figure out why you are who you are.”
Robilotta talks mainly to college students, but he also does a few high school and corporate gigs a year.
“Networking is huge. Also is getting to know each other, not just the shaking hands and kissing babies kind of thing, but actually having honest, authentic conversations with people,” Robilotta said.
This is why he created the acronym, P.H.E.A.M. According to Robilotta, this acronym stands for “posture, handshake, energy, attitude will make you memorable.”
“We are all attracted to positivity,” Robilotta said. According to Robilotta, a person making themselves memorable is a good way to try and change the culture. “Leadership is an action, not a power,” Robilotta explained.
“I hope to affect the way students challenge each other, both on a personal sense, peer to peer, friend to friend, but then also how student leaders challenge those who aren’t involved, either to get involved or to be involved in their college experience,” Robilotta said.
Freshman Cat Tewell said that, “It’s nice that we have a campus that does this [the event] for us.” According to Tewell, she thinks that the event will help more people instill random acts of kindness around campus. “I think a lot of people could be going through a tough time and this [the event] could pull them out of it,” Tewell said.
Freshman Austin Nadeau had the same idea. “It [the event] could bring up confidence for kids on campus in a non-intimidating way because he’s [Robilotta] funny,” Nadeau said. According to Nadeau, after seeing Robilotta, he is, “definitely going to be more involved with more on-campus activities.”
“We’re very excited to have James Robilotta,” Chimienti said, “I think it’s pretty important. I think that for first year students, when they get here, they really do feel like just a number.” Chimienti said she wants freshmen to know that KSC does not want to treat them like a number.
Chimienti said that she wants people to take this event, “as a positive experience, and a message, that you can change someone’s life even if you don’t think you can.”
Robilotta said that college can be tough on some students and he wants to empower them to do their best. “All of us are struggling with identity,” Robilotta said, “Social media is a really tough sale.”
According to Robilotta, he got something out of this week as well as KSC. “I wanted to learn what you guys are doing here. This is a program I’d love to bring to my own campus,” Robilotta said.
Chimienti said she thinks that this event was very successful. She also said that even the little acts of random kindness help a lot. Chimienti said, “It doesn’t have to be any big event it can be the small things.”
Rebecca Marsh can be