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On the Job: Bears in Brockton

Helping the City of Champions be the best it can be

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News Feature

The Brockton-Bridgewater State University connection is and has long been strong. BSU student-teachers often hone their craft in the city’s classrooms, students volunteer to help city organizations and community leaders mentor interns from BSU, and the university has a robust partnership with Massasoit Community College.

For graduates, Brockton is an employment destination, including in Mayor Bill Carpenter’s office. We recently asked several members of the mayor’s staff about their studies at BSU and the municipal work they do on behalf of their city.

Koren Cappiello, G’13, director of social services

Empathy. Compassion. Ethics. Those are traits that make a great civil servant and also lessons Cappiello took away from her BSU experience.

She came to Bridgewater because of its master’s of social work program, which caters to people already on the job. 

“I think it being so close to Brockton was really important,” said Cappiello, who has tackled homelessness, mental health, gangs, and other problems since she began with the city in 2010. “I think working and going to school at the same time was important.” 

In recent years, she has focused on substance use, including working on Brockton’s Champion Plan. The program encourages people to seek help recovering from drug addiction by going to the Brockton Police Department.

“It portrays police in a different light and helps police look at those individuals in a different light too,” she said. 

Paul Umano, ’13, G’16, grant administrator

While overseeing grants, Umano is also involved in virtually all aspects of city government and also works with local nonprofits. The intimate knowledge of the city that comes with being a Brockton native helps him in his job. 

“I think it’s everybody’s dream come true (to improve your hometown),” said Umano, who majored in political science as an undergraduate and returned to BSU to earn a master’s degree in public administration. “I know I wanted to work in local government, be close to family and friends, and give back in any way I could.”

The first grant he helped the city acquire was $2.7 million from the federal government for home lead paint abatement. 

He praised BSU’s Dr. Deniz Zeynep Leuenberger, now chief of staff to the president and vice president for planning and strategy, as well as a former political science professor, for offering guidance and sharing experiences to draw on as he aims to make the world better through his public sector work. He interned at BSU’s Institute for Policy Analysis and Regional Engagement and the city of Brockton.

“I always felt where you can make the most impact is at the local level,” he said.

Monica Monteiro, director of constituent services

English is Monteiro’s fifth – yes, fifth – language. She also speaks Cape Verdean creole, Portuguese, Spanish and basic French. It’s no wonder she wants to one day be an international diplomat.

For now though, she has a passion for helping Brockton’s diverse population connect with city government. She assists people in filling out applications and translating documents, among other duties.

“I love what I’m doing,” said the Brockton High School graduate.

Monteiro, who came to the U.S. from Cape Verde and is set to become a U.S. citizen this fall, studied political science at BSU before leaving to care for her child. She hopes to return and complete her studies at Bridgewater, where students and faculty welcomed her.

She used to be embarrassed about her accent, but Bridgewater classmates told her to embrace it.

Monteiro sees her linguistic skills as a plus at city hall, where she can talk with residents in the language in which they are most comfortable.

“It’s sad when you don’t understand something,” she said. “It’s good when you have someone to help you understand that specific thing. I feel very proud to be here.”

Kimsone Chau, ’16, assistant director of constituent services

While a student at Massasoit Community College, Chau had to take a psychology course. She fell in love with the subject, so much so that she pursued it as a major at Bridgewater State.

“I had a great experience at Bridgewater,” she said, praising the sense of helpfulness that permeates the campus. “I tell all my friends about it.”

She hopes to one day work in a position focused on youth or seniors. But, for now, the relative newcomer to municipal government (she started working for the city in May) is eagerly soaking up everything she can.

“I love helping people,” said Chau, who is a liaison between residents and city departments. “I also love the fact I can learn a lot in the process about local government.” 

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