"Class after class, year after year, you stuck with it and achieved your goal. This is a great achievement," President William P. Leahy, S.J., tells University employees who received Boston College degrees this year. (Photos by Lee Pellegrini)

Sixty-seven University employees completed undergraduate or graduate degrees at BC this year while continuing to fulfill their work-related responsibilities. University President William P. Leahy, S.J., and Vice President for Human Resources David Trainor offered their praise for the commitment and dedication of the graduateswho include members of the professional/administrative, clerical and service staffat a reception held at 2101 Commonwealth Avenue on Brighton Campus.

“We’re impressed with the tenacity you’ve shown,” said Fr. Leahy. “Class after class, year after year, you stuck with it and achieved your goal. This is a great achievement, make no mistake about that. You’ve shown what it takes to be a better person, and to help BC be a better place.”

Added Trainor, “You seized and took firm hold of the opportunity you were given. We know how hard it can be, particularly with a family, to balance these commitments. So we feel it’s important to thank you, and say how grateful we are for the work you do to make sure the lives of our students are the best they can be.”

Full-time BC employees are eligible for 100 percent tuition-remission for undergraduate courses taken through the Woods College of Advancing Studies and the evening Summer Session; the benefit also applies at the graduate level for up to six credits per semester, and six during the Summer Session (a total of 18 credits per academic year). As noted in the University’s employee handbook, the tuition benefit is granted “with the understanding that class and study hours do not conflict with regular work schedules.“

Among the newly minted BC grads at the event was housekeeper Filipe Martins, who earned a bachelor’s degree in corporate systems from the Woods College. He originally began attending under the benefit of his father, Manuel, a custodian at BC, and then his own once he joined the University.

“I worked the night shift, so I’d go to my class in the evening and then straight to work,” said Martins, who hopes to go into management. “It was tough but everything worked out very well. This is a great benefit for the University to offer. I really enjoyed getting to know people through my classes – you get to see how much of a community BC is.”

hotographed for the Summer issue of Chronicle. Leonardo Torres of Campus Recreation and Marcela Norton of Dining Services, both members of the 2016 Class.
Class of 2016 graduates Leonardo Torres, Campus Recreation assistant director for aquatics, and Dining Services Employee Relations Officer Marcela Norton.

Family ties have been a big part of the BC experience for Jack Lane, a senior assistant director in the Office of Sponsored Programs who received his master’s degree in administrative studies from the Woods College of Advancing Studies the same day his daughter Clodagh got her bachelor’s degree from the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences.

“I thought the tuition-remission was an excellent benefit for BC to make available—and I figured I’d raise the bar for my kids,” quipped Lane, whose son Declan is a rising sophomore in the Carroll School of Management; another son, Eoin, is entering BC this fall.

“Time management was pretty challenging, since I also did things like coach Little League and organize Boy Scouts, but I enjoyed the whole experience,” said Lane, who earned his undergraduate degree from BC, as did his father (Class of 1961). “Woods College has such a diversity of people in its classrooms, so being a student while working here definitely expanded my appreciation of Boston College.”

Another master’s in administrative studies degree recipient was Dining Services Employee Relations Officer Marcela Norton, for whom Commencement marked the end of a lengthy journey. Because of her work hours and her other commitments, she took one class at a time, and only during the academic year.

“It was a long process,” said Norton, a 30-year employee who also holds a bachelor’s degree from BC. “I started attending mainly because I felt this would be a good accomplishment for me, something to feel proud of.”

As she continued her studies, Norton found the classes not only were helpful to her as a professional but deepened her appreciation of BC as a Jesuit, Catholic university. “The professors were wonderful, and I liked being able to hear about the Ignatian ideals that are so important to BC.”

Norton said she hadn’t planned to attend Commencement but her husband convinced her to go. “I didn’t feel anything until I got the diploma in my hands, and then I got emotional. I guess it all just hit me.”

. L-R: Marty Dugal of Facilities Services, Filipe Martins of the Custodial Dept. (2016 Woods College grad), and John Bogdan of Human Resources share conversation at the event.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Services Martin Dugal (left) and Human Resources Director of Employment John Bogdan chat with Lead Custodian Filipe Martins, who earned a bachelor's degree in corporate systems from the Woods College of Advancing Studies.

Thomas Harwell, the assistant director for career exploration at the Career Center and one of 20 employees earning MBAs this year, entered the program on the advice of a colleague who suggested to Harwell that continuing his education was the best way to maximize his time at BC.

“I really loved it. I was very interested in the topics we discussed, and as someone working in the Student Affairs division, being a student myself just added to my perspective about the University.”

For Stephanie Chappe, a senior research analyst in Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment who received her doctorate from the Lynch School of Education, the period surrounding Commencement Weekend was, understandably, a blur.

“I got married on the Saturday up in New Hampshire,” she explained. “Then on Sunday, we came back so I could attend the robing ceremony for Ph.D. graduates. Monday was Commencement. And Tuesday I was back at work.”

Chappe, who lauded her IRPA colleagues for their support and understanding as she worked on her degree, said her husband had suggested they consider changing the date as she got closer to completing her dissertation.

“I said, ‘let’s keep it as it is,’” she said, with a laugh. “I think, actually, the wedding gave me that much more impetus to finish up: ‘I have to do this now so I can go get married.’ I’m very glad both things happened.”

—Sean Smith | News & Public Affairs