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Emotional Transfer

After mental trauma, Double Bear credits BSU “welcoming vibe”

As a junior in high school, Benjamin Sangiolo, ’20, G’21, was in a devastating car accident. He survived but his friend, who had fallen asleep at the wheel, did not.

The experience changed him, and when he headed off to college an hour and half away from home, that’s when Sangiolo learned just how much the tragedy affected him.

“I had severe separation anxiety, I was sweating a lot, couldn’t sleep. I needed to constantly know where my family was, because I didn’t want them to get hurt,” he said.

His anxiety became so overwhelming, he decided to transfer to Bridgewater State University, to be closer to his family in Middleboro.

“It was a really hard decision because I felt I was giving up, I had told myself that I was going to go to a specific school, do great things…it’s drilled into your head that you have to go to expensive schools to be successful,” he said.

Because of this mentality, Sangiolo fully admits he discredited BSU.

“I thought, what’s the benefit of going to school so close to home.” he said. “There was a stigma attached to going to a local school, a public university.”

That way of thinking slowly shifted once he arrived and, even as a commuter student, immersed himself in the Bridgewater State culture.

At first, Sangiolo said he was on autopilot when started at Bridgewater. He wanted to get up, go to class, go home, eat, sleep, repeat.

Soon though, he started to find his footing, especially when he joined Phi Kappa Theta.

“Greek life opened doors to people on campus, resources on campus, advisers, social events…it gave me an opportunity to be ‘Ben’ again, to meet people, to have fun,” he said. “Phi Kappa Theta gave me an outlet for leadership roles, it gave me a purpose, and helped me break free from the mundane routine.”

Sangiolo also got involved in BSU’s music department, where he found an outlet through singing. 

“The music department is really good at what they do, I’m sure you can say that about every department on campus, but the music department is where I really found a home,” he said.

Overall, BSU provides a “warm, welcoming vibe,” Sangiolo said, which allowed him to work through his anxieties.

“If you’re at all feeling alone, left out, anxious or afraid, there is a community at BSU that’s unmatched,” Sangiolo said. “Bridgewater State really help ground me and find myself again. More or less, I was able to develop tools within myself to better deal with things.”

After earning his degree in human resources with a minor in music in 2020, Sangiolo was inspired to come back to BSU, enrolling in the master’s in business administration and management program.

Looking ahead, he hopes to pursue a career in human resources; ultimately, he’s seeking a career where he can help others.

“I want to help the person struggling, to talk about their ambitions, help train them and get to where they see themselves in five years,” Sangiolo said.

He also looks to educate employers, to help businesses make better decisions when it comes to managing people. He hopes to change the way employers treat their employees.

“People are a company’s greatest asset, I want to remind people of that,” he said.

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