A sister. A nurse. A president: Meet Grace Claudio, SPB’s newest president

Michael Sicoli, Staff Writer

Junior nursing major Grace Claudio’s goal as SPB’s newest president is to increase communication with students. (Jack Spiegel)

When junior nursing major Grace Claudio learned over Zoom that she was going to be the next president of the Student Programming Board, she was  flooded with happiness.

Then she straightened up, refocused and took her pediatrics midterm.

That’s the type of concentration Claudio wants to bring to SPB, a passion needed to lead one of Quinnipiac University’s largest organizations. Helping others is an active part of Claudio’s life, from setting up a bingo night to helping those with developmental disabilities at her local Miller Group Home.

Working with patients through the COVID-19 pandemic may have been a challenge for some, but for Claudio, it was a reminder of why she chose the health care field.

“I think that really reaffirmed my desire to go into nursing, just working with these people,” Claudio said. “A lot of them were not able to see their family, or do things as they were, and they weren’t always able to understand 100% why everything was going on. So being someone who was there consistently, and to help them through, it was really special.”

The call to nursing didn’t drop out of nowhere. Her mother was a nurse as was Claudio’s grandmother. Her father also works on the insurance side of health care. Claudio’s major made perfect sense to her peers, 2021-22 SPB President Shannon Flaherty said with a smile.

“She’s just remarkable. And then she’s a nurse on top of it,” Flaherty said. “And I’m like, ‘Of course you want to save the world, and do this awesome profession.’”

Claudio didn’t join SPB to become its next president. She was always a bit more reserved, thinking before she spoke while choosing her words carefully, something her 26-year-old brother Alex Claudio is acutely familiar with.

“We talk a lot with our friends, but outside of our comfort zone, we don’t talk as much we kind of listen,” Alex Claudio said. “So she’s the same way. She was reserved growing up. She’s actually quieter than me. And I think once she got to college, I think her personality got to show a lot more than high school.”

With that growth came the presidential position she has now earned, which was no shock to her brother.

“Her being president of anything doesn’t surprise me at all. I know she’s always had these leadership abilities,” Alex Claudio said. “She’s 100% the smarter one out of me and her. There’s no other siblings in our family — just me and her — so she is always gotten straight A’s, clubs, music, everything. So her being in this position and going for it is no surprise.”

It was a spirit tempered by each event where being asked “How are you?” and “How’s your week going?” made the difference. Joining the SPB community was a home away from home, and it’s exactly what Grace Claudio wants to keep going.

“I know that’s why I kept coming back and why I didn’t choose to stick with some other organizations I didn’t get that feeling from,” Claudio said. “I feel like SPB was the first part of campus that really welcomed me.”

I’m in such a strange position because I’m so close in age with (Claudio), but I feel like I’m watching her grow up in a way. I’ve just watched her develop and grow into such a strong leader.

— 2021-22 SPB President Shannon Flaherty

Take SPB’s event on April 1, “A Night Fool of Surprises,” as an example. As vice president of late-night, one of SPB’s largest boards at around 10 people, Claudio oversees the Friday and Saturday night events that pop up on campus. Run by late-night chair Mackenzie Orlov, the April Fools’ Day event featured Apple products buried in baskets under actual apples, food, a caricaturist and more. But none of that was why Claudio had a smile on her face remembering it.

“Everyone there was very relaxed and open, and that was the feeling I got when I first joined SPB, that vibe,” Claudio said. “That’s why I kept coming back to events, like that really good feeling, that sense of community and belonging.”

Claudio emanates the word community, fitting the word in every sentiment she shares. Flaherty said it was a major reason why Claudio got the position over another candidate — the ability to think about others before herself.

“Staring at the two I was just like, ‘This one wants the org to be better. And this one wants themselves to be better,’’’ Flaherty said. “So it was just clear-cut.”

That sentiment will be prevalent for Claudio as she begins her presidency. She’s already shaken up the SPB executive board by changing some personnel to fit the vision she has for the organization. Her major goal is to communicate more with students to create the events that people want to attend, whether that’s a big event like Spring Week or a weekly trivia night.

Claudio is aware that the focus and desire to meet and exceed that goal starts with herself.

“I don’t think my position is better than any other position on the board,” Claudio said. “I feel like it’s just going to be my job to make sure to help facilitate everything to help bring in the new people, keep challenging the people who are coming back, just make sure that we’re giving everything that we can to the community.”

Being president of one of Quinnipiac’s largest organizations — a “jack-of-all-trades” as Flaherty put it — is a big responsibility. But the former SPB president touted Claudio’s attention to detail and leadership style as reasons why she has “no doubt” about the success of her successor’s tenure over the next year.

“I’m in such a strange position because I’m so close in age with her, but I feel like I’m watching her grow up in a way,” Flaherty said. “I’ve just watched her develop and grow into such a strong leader.”

Claudio might have started as a shy first-year student, but she said she’s ready to take on presidency. If nothing else, she wants SPB to be a haven of sorts, where even if events are the focus, you can always receive a kind look and a nice word.

“There’s a lot of hardship and negativity in the world for everyone,” Claudio said. “So I think I just want to not be a burden on someone and just be someone who’s reliable to them, and they know that they can feel safe and comfortable around. I think that’s just been kind of like my goal with any interaction I have with anyone.”