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BC Graduate Dias is Named Head of Monsterrat Coalition

Paula Dias (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Jack Dunn | Director of News & Public Affairs

Published: Dec. 12, 2013

Paula Dias, a 2007 Boston College alumna and former senior student engagement specialist at Middlesex Community College, has been named manager of the Montserrat Coalition, a mentoring and support program for high-financial need students.

Dias succeeds Montserrat founder Marina Pastrana ‘08, who stepped down in October to take a position with Catholic Extension.

Dias, who received her master’s degree in education in 2009 from BC, was working as a graduate assistant in the University’s Mission and Ministry division and was present at the 2008 meeting when Pastrana first proposed the formation of a coalition to support low-income students. In succeeding Pastrana, Dias says she is honored to carry on the work of helping students to thrive at Boston College.

“I received an e-mail from Marina this fall saying that she was leaving BC and was assisting in the search for candidates to fill the role,” said Dias. “When I read the job description, I knew that it was just what I was looking for.”      

Dias says she can relate to the students she will serve in her new role based on her own experience as a BC undergraduate. “I remember the choices I had to make as a high-need student, so I know what it is like for them,” said Dias. “I was lucky to have had good mentors at BC, people such as Perspectives Program Director Brian Braman and Lonergan Institute Associate Director Kerry Cronin.  It made all the difference for me, which is why I want to be an effective mentor for others.”

Since arriving in mid-November, Dias has met with Montserrat students to gauge their needs and assist them in their efforts to maximize their Boston College experience.

“Students have come in and opened themselves up to me right away, which is a testament to Marina and the office she established,” said Dias. “Boston College has done a lot to make this happen, and I look forward to the challenge of taking it to the next level by building relationships across the University that will help to support the varied needs of our 1,400 Montserrat students.”

Burt Howell, who directs the Montserrat Coalition through University Mission and Ministry, said he was delighted to welcome Dias back to Boston College to lead this important initiative. “Paula brings experience, talent, and leadership to the Montserrat Coalition,” said Howell. “She has a strong record of caring for students and advocating on their behalf. Her commitment to this ministry will help high-financial need students overcome barriers to participation in formational experiences at Boston College.”

Born in Brazil, Dias moved to Boston at the age of five, settling with her family in Brighton. She attended high school in Holliston before enrolling in Boston College in 2003. “I grew up attending BC events because my step-father worked here,” said Dias. “It feels like home when I am on campus. There is an energy here that I don’t see anywhere else. It is a good feeling to be back.”

Fluent in Portuguese and conversant in Spanish, Dias is currently pursuing her doctorate in higher education administration from Northeastern University, with an emphasis on researching the needs of low-income students and the achievement gap that affects many within this demographic. She said she hopes to apply what she is learning to help students at Boston College, while also being available to address their individual needs.

“Our office in Brock House on College Road is open to all students, and I encourage them to make an appointment to meet with me, or to come by to talk with fellow students in the lounge on the first floor at any time,” said Dias. “It is a very welcoming environment where students can relax and feel at home.  I look forward to getting to know them and to helping them take advantage of all that Boston College has to offer.”