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Mariah James ’19

Mariah James

The moment I stepped onto the Boston College campus, I truly felt like I belonged here. But that belief quickly changed the moment I saw the tuition listed in the informational brochure. For the months leading up to my acceptance, I was prepared to either face rejection, or worse yet, realize I had been accepted but couldn’t afford to attend. Then the moment came that would change my life: My admission decision came in with an attachment that read “financial aid package” followed by a very generous amount of aid. My heart filled with the utmost gratitude, and I cried.

My freshman year, I started on a premedical track with my heart set on becoming a psychiatrist so I could help and care for those with mental health trauma. However, in my time at BC, I began to realize that there were so many other ways to become a man and woman for others.

After taking a communication class on a whim, I fell in love with the major and the idea that every single communicative element, every word, every syllable, is so unique and significant. BC’s curriculum has allowed me to pick up a marketing minor since then, and I have been able to use the interpersonal skills learned in the classroom and apply them at a marketing internship for the nonprofit Big Sister in Boston and an internship at an advertising firm, McCann Prague, in the Czech Republic.

While at Big Sister, I met with state senators to discuss supporting initiatives to fund nonprofits in Boston, planned speaking events for women in business, and set plans to recruit and inspire more women to become mentors for young girls in the Boston area. And at McCann, I edited documents set for global dispersion, put together competition monitoring presentations for our clients, and had a place behind the scenes in the creation of commercials and other campaign materials. I am excited to see what the future holds and to find out where my education as an Eagle will take me next.

Every day I am grateful that I am able to attend BC. I sincerely thank the donors for giving me the gift of opportunity. One of my biggest goals is to pass on the kindness I was blessed with and become a donor myself so that I can give other students the chance to find their home at the Heights.

Meredith Thompson '18


I'm here at Boston College thanks in part to BC donors, and I'm so grateful.

Originally from Wisconsin, I followed in my mother's footsteps in coming to the Heights. Between the athletic atmosphere and academic environment, BC was the perfect university for me.

As a junior, I was recruited from club soccer to join the varsity team, where I received an athletics scholarship. When I joined the varsity soccer team, I realized that my hard work had finally paid off. College athletics is a big time commitment, but it helps to give me structure and a schedule. Last year, I was so proud when our team banded together to make it to the ACC tournament. 

Majoring in political science has opened my eyes to the world at large. My studies in Islamic civilization have been especially enriching to study during such a globally interesting time. I also participate in the Model UN Club at BC, where we compete against other universities to hone our diplomatic and problem-solving skills. My studies have taught me how to communicate with others to find common ground and make sense of the world.

Throughout my time at BC, I've learned how important it is to cultivate a strong community. Gifts demonstrate that BC matters to the alumni, parents, and friends that help build that community for students like me. Thank you for your generosity.


Jessica Lu '20


As our van rolled down a New Orleans street devastated by a recent tornado, I couldn't help but reflect upon how I arrived at this moment—my first Appalachia Volunteers service trip at Boston College.

Raised in Ronkomkoma, New York, I wasn’t focused on the Heights until my AP Literature teacher mentioned Boston College in class one day. I knew BC's alumni network was strong and its tradition was rooted in service to others, but nothing could have prepared me for how directly that mission would change my life.

I remember the day I received my scholarship letter. My mother was so excited—because without that gift from BC donors, I wouldn't have been able to attend Boston College. Today, I am a premed double major in psychology and economics, with a strong interest in neuroscience. I'm interested in understanding how the mind works and why people do what they do.

What do I do? In addition to my studies, I volunteer at Project Sunshine, an organization that works with children facing medical challenges at Franciscan Children’s in Brighton. We play, prepare meals, and prepare "Sending Sunshine" craft packages for children to enjoy while we're gone. Immersed in the lives of those kids and their families, I am moved outside of myself to simply be there for them—to touch their hearts. Not everyone has the opportunity to be here, which is why I will return this gift back to the world.

As our van made its way through the storm's ruin, I reflected upon how Boston College has formed me—given me new eyes to see the world and new tools to make an impact. I've even discovered my calling to be a doctor. I aspire to provide free clinical work and services to areas of greatest need, like New Orleans, because now I am a "woman for others."

I want to thank BC donors for their generosity, something beyond the explanations of neuroscience. Thank you for believing in BC. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for believing in me.


Eric Encarnacion '19

Eric Encarnacion '19

Boston College was always my dream school. Despite the fact that I knew my family couldn't afford the tuition, my mom encouraged me to apply. To this day, the joy that I experienced when I tore open my acceptance letter is a feeling I will never forget. My scholarship to BC changed my life, and I owe everything I've experienced at the Heights to BC donors.

My time at BC has given me a sense of purpose and an excitement for what's to come. Thanks to the generosity of BC donors, I now have the gift of opportunity.  I feel grateful, and I look forward to the day when I can "pay it forward" by giving back. I invite you to take a moment to hear my story. Thank you again.


Kyle Hanscom '17


When I was in second grade, I came to Boston College to watch my father's graduate school commencement ceremony. Since then, I held onto the idea that I would follow in my father's footsteps leading to the Heights. Fast forward a few years—and thanks to the help of BC donors—here I am.

When I first arrived on campus, I was eager to explore opportunities in my passions for sound design and theater when I introduced myself to George Cooke, technical supervisor at the Robsham Theater Arts Center. This led me to the staff in Media Technology Services, where I have happily held a work-study position for the past four years. Thanks to these unique opportunities, I have been able to gain training and skills that helped to expand my passion and knowledge of audio equipment and operation.

My time as a BC theater major has been incredibly formative, exposing me to the creative and technical sides of the field. As a stage manager for productions at Robsham, I have had the opportunity to be at the center of the collaboration between students, faculty, and staff. I am so proud to have worked on a number of spectacular performances—some of which I was able to present at a recent regional theater conference. My sound design was nominated to be showcased at the New England region of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, where I won the KCACTF Excellence in Sound Design award. The collective impact of gifts from the greater BC donor community, provided these experiences that I would not have had anywhere other than BC.

At Boston College I have always been on the go, either running to a theater class, working behind the scenes of a show, or providing technical support for events on campus. All of this has been made possible because of donors who have generously invested in students like me. I will be finishing my journey at BC this May, but look forward to starting a new chapter of my life as a Boston College alumnus.


Sheila Hufnagle '17

Photo of S. Hufnagle '17

I've always wanted to be a teacher, and now I'm realizing my dream thanks to BC donors. 

I'm a senior in BC's Lynch School of Education, majoring in secondary education and biology. And I've recently been accepted into the Lynch School's Fifth Year Program, which will allow me to get a master's degree in education leadership immediately following my bachelor's program. My goal is to eventually become a school principal.

Working with children is incredibly rewarding. Since freshman year, I've been involved with BC's Children's Center, and this year I was certified as an early education and care specialist. As part of my senior year practicum, I've been working at Brighton High School. The students there have inspired me to continue working in urban education—and have confirmed for me that I'm on the right path.

Boston College initially caught my attention because of its prestigious reputation, but I worried that I wouldn't be able to afford to attend. When I received my financial aid package, there was no question: BC is where I was supposed to be. I found a place where I really fit in, academically and socially. So many doors have been opened for me, and none of that would have been possible without my financial aid.

I aim to make an impact on my students' lives, just like donors have made an impact on mine. I'm so grateful for this opportunity.


Elizabeth Byrne '17


I've always wanted to make a difference to those who are suffering—especially children. That's why I decided to study nursing with a focus on pediatrics. It took a lot of looking until I settled on BC's Connell School of Nursing, but our values match. Yet if it weren't for gifts from people who donate for BC, I wouldn't be here.

I first saw the Heights in the summer and, like so many, fell in love with the gorgeous campus and buildings. BC quickly became my top choice, and when I received a generous and much-needed financial aid package, it made my family's decision easy. I'm amazed that donors give to someone they don't even know. Their gifts make a difference, and I'm grateful.

Now, as a junior, I'm an undergraduate research fellow developing a tool that allows doctors to identify bullying in pediatric patients. I'm in the honors program and am involved in KILN, a program to develop diverse leaders in nursing.

My experience at Boston College is absolutely phenomenal, thanks to BC donors. BC is everything I wanted and more.

—Elizabeth Byrne '17


Isaac Normesinu '17


I've come all the way from Ghana to study and play soccer at Boston College, and I couldn't have done it without the generosity BC donors.

How did I arrive at BC? I've been playing soccer since I was 7—it's always been my passion. At 12, I was awarded a scholarship to attend the Right to Dream academy, where I honed my soccer and academic skills. From there, I went on to the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. When I was ready to go to college, BC really caught my attention. The people I met—especially Coach Ed Kelly—were a big part of why I chose Boston College. And my team is great: This season was especially exciting since we made it into the Elite Eight!

Off the field, my classes have been amazing—I've really been able to experience another side of life as an English major. In Ghana, I didn't have the opportunity to explore much literature, but my love for reading has been fostered here at BC. A whole new universe has truly opened for me, and I'll always be grateful for it. 

I'm fully aware of how fortunate I am to have a full athletic scholarship to BC. My goal is to play professional soccer, and I am grateful to have a world-class education to make me successful. This scholarship has meant the world to me, and I'm determined to live up to my potential. But none of it would have been possible without BC's family of generous donors. I want to thank them for helping me live my dream.

—Isaac Normesinu '17

Tabitha Joseph '17

Tabitha Joseph '17

My time at Boston College has changed me for the better and given me a purpose. But I wouldn't have had this opportunity without the support of BC donors.

I came to BC because the mission of educating "men and women for others" really resonated with me. And the financial aid package I received—as a first-generation college student coming from a single-income home—made it possible for me to attend and become that woman for others.

I wanted to do something special during my time at the Heights. I'm a double major in business and music, and when I found the Music Guild, I knew that I was going to make an impact. Music Guild is a student organization that creates a community of musicians on campus. Once a week, we travel to the Franciscan Hospital for Children to play music with the patients there. We find it gratifying to give the children a sense of comfort and peace through music.

When people like you give to BC, you're not only investing in our buildings and classrooms, you're also investing in each and every student here. And you're enabling people like me to spread the generosity that we've received. Your actions will carry us through the rest of our lives. I'm so grateful, and I hope to show the same support when I graduate.

—Tabitha Joseph '17


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