Student leader profile: National Society of Collegiate Scholars President Mike Franco

By Colby Sears

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily collegian
(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily collegian)

The Daily Collegian is running a weekly series this semester which profiles student leaders on campus and highlights their impact on the community. If you wish to nominate someone you feel is making a significant impact on campus, please email your suggestion to [email protected]


Mike Franco will soon be going bald for charity. The 21-year-old senior biology major, who is president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars at the University of Massachusetts, is hosting an event supporting the St. Baldrick’s Foundation for childhood cancer research.

The Long Island, New York native talked to the Collegian about the NSCS and his role as a leader on the UMass campus.


Colby Sears: Can you tell me about the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and your involvement in the organization?

Mike Franco: The National Society of Collegiate Scholars is basically an organization based on student success. It’s a lot of students with above a 3.5 GPA – they tend to get an email about it, and it’s a national thing. There’s a bunch of different chapters all across the U.S., and it’s basically a merit-based kind of opportunity to get involved on campus in a way that a lot of other organizations don’t, through service.

Basically whenever someone on the executive board finds out about an opportunity, we tell the entire organization about it and we try to get everyone involved as best we can. We run meetings once a month, but that’s pretty much it. It’s a pretty well known society.


CS: How did you get involved?

MF: It was just through an email. I found out they were looking for people to get on the executive board and I applied to it. I was vice president last year and I’m the president this year. Technically, I joined the middle of my sophomore year.


CS: What have you done as president so far this year?

MF: I’ve really been focusing on this St. Baldrick’s event. I’ve been doing it since this summer. My goal is to do two major events, one in the fall and one in the spring. Other than that, there’s a project called PACE, which is kind of like a volunteer tutoring type deal. I’m affiliated with Wildwood Elementary School, which is right behind Central Residential Area. I still volunteer there, just not as much as I used to. It’s an opportunity where students from NSCS can go and volunteer at the school and they can tutor and participate in the after-school program.


CS: Can you tell me a little bit more about St. Baldrick’s?

MF: St. Baldrick’s is a fundraiser for children’s cancer research.  Basically the whole point is that you shave your hair off and go almost bald, or completely bald, and it’s kind of like a simulation of what cancer patients go through and that kind of turmoil of really losing part of your identity when you become a cancer patient because of chemotherapy.

I’m not sure about worldwide, but at least on the national level it’s pretty well known. They raise a pretty significant amount of money for research and I really wanted to get involved in it somehow and I think that having it done on campus here would probably be the easiest way to get a huge group of people together for a good cause. Not only that, but I’m finding that through the online program, people from the Amherst area are actually getting interested too, which is kind of cool.


CS: When is the event?

MF: The date is set for Oct. 30 and I’d like to make that solidified, but I have to figure out what’s going on with the barbers first. I’d like to get the ones in the Campus Center involved, because that’d be pretty easy and then they could just walk over and get started. But I’d like to try to ask Matt’s Barber Shop in town, and there’s a couple other ones that I’ve been to that are very good. But as of now, Oct. 30, from about 12:30 to 5:00 (p.m.), right here in the Campus Center.


CS: How did you hear about St. Baldrick’s and what made you want to get involved?

MF: My dad actually told me about it at first. He was like “I’ve never really heard about one of these events, and we’ve never really had one from where I’m from on Long Island and I’ve never heard of anyone having one publicly.” But to have it here would be pretty cool, I think.

I did a little research for myself, put in a call, and it was really easy. It was cool to just be able to contact them and be like, “Hey I want to do this” and they’re like, “Oh, there’s actually a competition for it and you guys can get involved as a campus community.”


CS: So this event is going to be put on through NSCS?

MF: Yes, St. Baldrick’s is a completely separate organization, but basically I’m having people from NSCS volunteer for the event.


CS: Can you tell me a little bit about your hobbies and what you like to do for fun?

MF: I’m a big runner, I love long-distance running. I’ve done a half-marathon before and I’d really like to do a full (one) eventually, maybe even an ultra if I have enough time. I like to play soccer, I love the English Premier League, I wake up early for games. …  It’s good stuff. I love meeting new people, traveling is great. I love to travel.

For work, I’m an EMT and also a lifeguard and swimming instructor, so I’ve got those three under my belt. I love doing all three of them and it’s a good spectrum. I work through the YMCA and I teach swim lessons for kids and when I’m working my EMT gig, I tend to work with older people. So you really get a nice contrast in terms of who you’re working with, so it’s really nice.


CS: Do you do any of that work here, or just back home in Long Island?

MF: No, I have a New York certification so I can’t work in Massachusetts. But here, on campus, I’m an athletic tutor so I just tutor biology and chemistry.


CS: What do you think distinguishes you as a leader at UMass, on campus, in the position you are in right now?

MF: I have to say I think I pride myself on being outgoing. I’m definitely the first person to raise my hand and ask a question or try to meet new people, shake someone’s hand, and really try to figure out where other people are coming from and relate to them and get on a similar level. I think that’s what makes me unique as a leader, and I tend to get along with a lot of people. …  I try my best to get along with a lot of people.

Colby Sears can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter: @colbysears.