Nichols College Sophomore Leads the Way in Raising Awareness for Cancer Research

Anderson feels a need to make a difference

By Lorraine U. Martinelle
Special to The Citizen Chronicle

DUDLEY — When he embarked on his business education journey at Nichols College in August 2017, Nicholas Anderson knew he would thrive on this New England campus, bring a lot to the conference table, and become one of the College’s “whole leaders.” The eager 20-year-old would immerse himself in the College’s leadership culture and become a sponge, absorbing all the knowledge he could from his professors, coaches, and peers.

The Melrose native knew he wanted to make an impact — not only among his fellow campus community members but also for people who didn’t know him.

People like the millions who have been diagnosed with cancer … who have passed away and who have survived. People all over the United States and world who have lost families and friends to cancer, or who have survivors in their lives.

People who have hope.

Anderson is one of those people.

When he wasn’t even a year old, his grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. At age 5, his grandfather died of pancreatic cancer. During high school, his best friend’s father died from cancer.

“That’s when I knew,” Anderson recalled. “I needed to make a difference.”

His best friend started a Relay For Life team, and Anderson joined, eventually becoming co-captain during his junior and senior years in high school.

Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser cancer walk for the American Cancer Society. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries who give of their time and effort, because they believe it’s time to take action against cancer. During Relay, registered team members take turns walking around a track or designated path. Each event is six to 24 hours long, and each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps. After all, cancer patients don’t stop because they’re tired—and neither do Relayers.

In sum, it’s a deeply moving, emotional event for those involved.

“I always think back to friends and family and those who have been impacted by cancer,” said Anderson. “I feel those stories add to the ‘why’ I need to make a difference.”

When he came to Nichols as a first-year student in fall 2017 and learned that the College didn’t have a Relay event, Anderson quickly decided to change that. He garnered over 200 signatures to present to the Nichols Student Government Association for a proposal to establish a Nichols Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) chapter and a Relay event on campus—with success and serious time constraints.

Anderson had a mere four months to get a committee together, organize, raise money, work out logistics, and make it all come together on April 8, 2018, on the Dudley campus.

He and his determined committee members got the job done.

“As a first-year student, I started it from the ground up,” said Anderson. “I made sure to put in the utmost effort into everything I did, and, with the help of my fellow committee members, our event became the #1 student-run fundraiser on campus, grossing over $16,500 for the American Cancer Society—and within only a four-month planning process.”

Anderson said that being president and founder of the Nichols CAC chapter is the quintessential example of experiential learning. He and the 20 members of the Relay committee have to put into practice many of the aspects of business they learn in Nichols classrooms.

“We cover everything from budgets and securing sponsorships to purchasing insurance coverage, managing logistics, social media, public relations, and event planning,” said Anderson, a general business major concentrating in entrepreneurship and marketing, and a member of the Nichols Emerging Leaders Program.

While he was on the football and track teams (and vice president of the Nichols Meditation Club and founder of the Nichols Relay For Life event) during his first year at Nichols, this academic year he has two internships to add to his schedule—being a business development, marketing, and sales intern for both Dale Carnegie and food-waste tracking software start-up Phood LLC—on top of being head of national outreach for the Nichols Men of Distinction, and chairing Relay meetings three times a week.

Anderson’s busy first year at Nichols culminated in his winning the 2018 Nichols College Community Service Leader of the Year Award for his founding of the College’s Relay For Life chapter.

Anderson recently delivered a presentation in front of classmates about the upcoming Relay For Life event at Nichols College on April 6.


To say Anderson is ambitious would be an understatement. He is the classic go-getter, always willing to take on new challenges and expand his portfolio of accomplishments. He’s the epitome of the whole leader who enthusiastically takes the initiative, encourages and develops others, leads well under pressure, finds his calling and purpose, and strategically networks. It can’t hurt, too, that the leadership gene runs in his family: Anderson’s great-great uncle, James E. Milano Jr., was a mayor of Melrose, and Milano’s father—Joseph E. Milano Sr.—was a state representative. At the end of World War II—August 14, 1945—Army Lt. Milano Jr. stood at the shore of Yokohama, Japan, and watched Emperor Hirohito sign the surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri.


Anderson is an advocate for the old-fashioned tradition of writing “thank you” letters by hand. On pen, and with paper. In fact, he has his own personal stationary.

“I credit my Mom, Patrea Anderson, for always telling me to handwrite ‘thank you’ cards to people who gave me a gift or helped me,” he said with a smile. “It’s now instinctual.”


Anderson cites Gary Vaynerchuk (aka Gary Vee) as a businessman he aspires to be like. Vaynerchuk is chairman of VaynerX, a media and communications holding company, and CEO of advertising agency VaynerMedia.

“I always look up to Gary Vaynerchuk as a guide and mentor to be a better leader,” he said. “He’s genuine. He’s honest, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. He helps people highlight that there is going to be hard work, but that they should always think back to their ‘why.’ We can learn a lot from the things Gary says, whether you’re into marketing or not.

Showing off his “Gary Vee X K-Swiss” model “Clouds & Dirt” sneakers, Anderson said: “The sneakers are meaningful to me. They have sayings on the bottom of each of them that represent a famous quote from Gary Vee that rings true for me: ‘The work, the grind, the hustle’ is on one shoe; ‘The mission, the motive, the macro’ on the other.”

In a video on the K-Swiss website, Vaynerchuk tells a reporter: “I think 99.9 percent of the people watching this now live in the middle (between the clouds and the dirt), and I think that’s the most dangerous place to be.”

The 2nd annual Nichols College Relay For Life will be held Saturday, April 6, 2019, starting at 6 p.m. in the main gym of the Athletic Center on Center Road, Dudley. The registration fee is $15 prior to the event, or $20 “at the door.” Food and beverages will be provided. The event is open to Nichols campus community members and their friends and families.

Register here:


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