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Office of News & Public Affairs

Marianne Carrabba Named Winner of 2014
Boston College Community Service Award

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (6-6-14) -- Marianne Carrabba, assistant director for off-campus housing in the Office of Residential Life, has been named winner of the 2014 Boston College Community Service Award, given each year to a University employee whose actions exemplify the Jesuit spirit of service to others. The award, sponsored by the Office of Governmental and Community Affairs, was presented to Carrabba by President William P. Leahy, SJ, on May 29 at the University’s annual recognition dinner.

Carrabba, who is retiring from BC this month, has worked at the University for 45 years. Her job is to help students, as well as new faculty and staff, secure off-campus housing, but Carrabba goes above and beyond that job description to make sure they find not just a place to live, but a home.

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Community Service Award winner Marianne Carrabba with University President William P. Leahy, SJ. (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

Colleagues describe her as humble, selfless, kind and empathetic, with a knack for turning a negative experience into a positive one.

Her day-to-day duties include welcoming international students not only to Boston College, but to the US. Many arrive with a suitcase in hand, but no place to live. She works diligently to find them housing and checks in with them to make sure they are acclimating to America successfully.

“It would not be shocking to see her driving up and down Commonwealth Avenue with her car loaded to deliver needed furniture, household items and food to students who do not have a lot of money or transportation,” wrote Facilities Services Assistant Director Catherine O’Connor in her letter of nomination for Carrabba.

O’Connor, who has known Carrabba for 25 years, added Carrabba’s weekend plans often include taking a student shopping or taking them a meal because they don’t feel well.

“All those little things mean so much,” said Carrabba, a self-described “problem-solver.”

In an interview with Carrabba, it is clear her interpersonal skills are one of her biggest assets. She stresses that she likes to have a personal conversation with each person who comes into her office so she can find them the best housing match. “It’s important to see their individual needs.”

Her interpersonal skills extend to the long-standing relationships she has cultivated with landlords and realtors. It would not be unusual to learn that Marianne was out in the field, bargaining with realtors and landlords to accommodate short-term leases or to negotiate fees and rents, according to O’Connor.

The most challenging housing issues arise from international students and other special cases, such as transfer students or new faculty and staff, said Carrabba. “Students come from Chile or China and they need a furnished apartment. Or other students or faculty need a place but only for the fall. It always works out in the end.”

Carrabba, a Revere native who now lives in Brighton, has watched seven nieces and nephews graduate from BC, including her goddaughter Michela Falzone last month. Looking back on her many decades of service, she said, “I got to meet nice and interesting people every day. Every day there was a new challenge, but that was the fun of it. I had the most amazing journey.”

 

--Kathleen Sullivan, Office of News & Public Affairs, kathleen.sullivan@bc.edu