“Bridgewater was a safe place for me to grow as a leader because there was so much support. It really allowed me to explore my leadership style.”
Erin Wortman, ’04, G’06, and Sonya Striggles, ’10, trace their professional success to the confidence they gained as Bridgewater State Bears.
Their determination helped land Wortman and Striggles on Gamma Phi Beta’s inaugural list of Confident Gamma Phis 40 Under 40. The sorority aims to shine a light on “40 outstanding women under the age of 40,” according to its website.
Planning to Lead
As planning and community development director for the Town of Stoneham, Wortman must be knowledgeable and articulate – two skills she honed as a Bridgewater State student.
“I take really complex topics and translate them in a lot of ways to the masses,” said Wortman, who often presents to groups of hundreds concerning development, zoning and other matters affecting the Boston region.
Undergraduate studies in communication studies improved her writing and speaking skills while a master in public administration degree made her a well-rounded municipal official.
“Having the MPA degree is so valuable,” she said, adding she still draws on lessons learned in classes in human resources, finance, law and other subjects. “It has done nothing but lead me to excel in my field.”
Wortman’s also breaking down gender stereotypes when people falsely assume she is in a meeting just to take notes.
At Bridgewater, Wortman developed her leadership skills through involvement in Gamma Phi Beta, community service and spirit groups, and honor societies.
“Bridgewater was a safe place for me to grow as a leader because there was so much support,” she said. “It really allowed me to explore my leadership style.”
Following her gut
As a Bridgewater native, Striggles admits she thought attending college in her hometown wasn’t for her. But, after initially going away to school, she realized what was close was best.
“I started at Bridgewater and have never looked back,” said Striggles, who studied English with a concentration in writing. “I met people from all walks of life, whether first-generation college students or products of Ivy League parents.”
She developed strong leadership and sales skills as she recruited new Gamma Phi Beta members and became involved in community service activities.
“It’s always been ingrained in my head the importance of being involved,” she said.
Those experiences help Striggles excel as a real estate agent, where she serves clients of varied backgrounds. She was an assistant to an agent while in college. Graduating amid a recession, Striggles opted to continue in the field.
“Bridgewater showed me you sometimes need to go with your gut,” she said. “I think I did that with my career.”
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