Salve Success: Jillian Gaffga ’23, member of Sigma Phi Sigma and the Student Government Association
Jillian Gaffga ’23 describes herself as “the well-rounded girl,” but all those who know her believe that this is an understatement.
Working towards a degree in accounting with a minor in business administration, Gaffga has her hands full. As a junior, she is also the treasurer of Sigma Phi Sigma and the Student Government Association (SGA), the vice president and social media manager of the Accounting and Finance Club, a peer mentor, a service advocate, and a vital member of the Newport Community Symphonic Band.
But this doesn’t even begin to cover all of the things she’s involved in.
Finding community in clubs
Gaffga’s involvement in school activities finds its foundation in high school. There, she was a three-sport athlete, a member of numerous extracurriculars, and a member of Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC). Wishing to leave sports behind after high school, Gaffga knew she would not have the “instant family” that teams provide, so she was determined to be present on campus and find her group of friends.
Like many when first starting college, Gaffga worried about finding a community of people who shared in her interests — but Gaffga did what she knew best and got involved with numerous clubs and organizations on campus.
“I wanted to make connections with people. I thought the best way to do that would be to join clubs,” Gaffga explained. “It’s something I’m grateful for. I knew the experiences I wanted to have relied on what I made of it starting early.”
Gaffga knows the pressures of wanting to be involved while trying to stay on top of school work, and credits her success to her detailed planner. Having found the perfect balance, Gaffga’s experience with each club she enters has fostered new relationships and networks that prove beneficial for other clubs and facets in her life. She expressed that it’s also never too late to get involved or take a leadership position in an organization that feeds one’s passions.
“Just joining what was the most interesting really helped me. We have clubs that vary in demand and topic. You can join the Ping Pong Club or the Boardgame Club or … something like the Student Government Association,” Gaffga emphasized. “That’s the great thing about clubs: If you hate one, you’re bound to find one that fits for you.”
A passion for people
Gaffga has found great reward in being a member of Sigma Phi Sigma, the National Mercy Honor Society. As an honor society that devotes their time representing people in the community and upholding the mercy mission in their actions, Sigma Phi Sigma enabled Gaffga to explore her passion of helping others.
In the fall, Gaffga and other members of Sigma Phi Sigma were given the opportunity to collect necessities, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, to be donated to the Thompson School. Gaffga also explained that at the same event the group was able to provide the students at Thompson School Halloween baskets with toys, glow sticks and candy.
Gaffga also devotes herself to aiding in the transition process for first year students entering college. As a peer mentor for two years, she has seen the impact that lending a hand, advice or support can do. She understands the multitude of changes that first years students go through from their time during orientation to the last class of their first semester.
“They’re like totally different people from the start of the semester to the end. So when they come to me and say they enjoyed being mentored, it is so rewarding,” Gaffga said. “I actually had one of my students say to me, ‘Just so you know, I’m applying to become a peer mentor because of you.’ I was so excited, and it was so gratifying. You really realize how much of an impact you make with moments like that.”
Preparing for the future
As a motivated and engaged member of the Student Government Association, Gaffga plans to run for president come her senior year. Gaffga emphasized her aspiration to provide comfort and safety to people on campus, and she has pinpointed her focus on gender-inclusive housing initiatives on campus for actions to be taken while she is a member.
Gaffga is also a member of the Accounting and Finance Club, giving her the tools and space to prepare for her career in accounting. After college, Gaffga plans to take the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) exam, which will allow her to gain more opportunities as an accountant.
With the skills gathered from her experience on and off the Salve Regina campus, Gaffga is considering traveling internationally or delving further into the field of forensic accounting in the future. It’s clear that wherever she finds herself in the future, she will be ready and willing to be involved and create community wherever she goes.
Article by student writer Catherine Fiocco ’23
Salve Success is a series of student success stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Success for more stories.