“Everything I’m not good at.”

That’s how NBT intern Joey Lenkey ’20 once referred to emotional intelligence (EQ) and the skills that Jason Bridges ’98 taught him during his internship on Nantucket Island last summer.

“EQ takes practice, practice, practice,” says the former Little Giant point guard, who led bicycle tours of the island for Bridges’ Nantucket Bike Tours. “Like shooting free throws in the gym, you have to practice talking to people or reading body language on a day-to-day basis to improve.”

New York Times  science writer Daniel Goleman first defined EQ as “a set of skills, including control of one’s impulses, self-motivation, empathy, and social competence in interpersonal relationships.”

“These are the things that really matter in life but they’re not taught at any school,” Bridges says. “Who do you want as a friend? What do you want in a spouse or in a co-worker? Nobody ever says, ‘Man, if you only had a higher GPA then we could be friends.’ You want trust, honesty, gratitude.”

Joey remembers the “Six-in-One Challenge” that called for him and SaVonne to express gratitude to people in six different ways—a letter, a text, an email, a gift, a face-to-face encounter, and a post on social media.

“You had to tell the person what you’re grateful for, but also why—which meant you had to be sincere. I wrote a letter to my mom, and she cried. What you can do for people by sincerely giving gratitude is amazing. It’s a superpower, really.”

With two months to practice, the Wabash biology major got better at EQ.

“Joey is rockin’ this summer,” Jason tweeted on National Intern Day. “The island has never experienced such a smile.”

“It seems like everything just clicked that last week,” Joey says. “We’re walking down the street saying hi to all these people we’d gotten to know. I felt so connected, it was amazing.”

He savors those connections and was determined to incorporate this new mindset into his life at Wabash.

“Jason warned us that it could be a difficult transition. But I want to share what we’ve learned, build our own Nantucket community at Wabash. Wouldn’t that be sweet?!”

Back on campus Joey began volunteering at Half Way Home, a non-profit residential drug and alcohol treatment program for women. He drives the women to their appointments and began tutoring later in the fall.

“I love using my people skills.” He smiles. “It balances out those hours I spend doing organic chemistry.

“At Half Way Home, I hope I’ll eventually be able to pass along some of what I learned about emotional intelligence too. Those skills would be helpful to the women as they look for jobs, in their daily lives, with all the challenges they face.”