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Family of Bears

Father and two children are BSU students at the same time, and loving it

Jim Lamonte is back in class at Bridgewater State after a two-decade hiatus. Only this time he has two very special schoolmates by his side: his children, Mya and Tyler.

“When I went to Bridgewater, I loved Bridgewater. I still love Bridgewater,” Lamonte said. “To be able to go back and share this experience with them has been an absolutely awesome opportunity.”

Jim Lamonte initially studied aviation, and he was close to graduating when finances became tight. But, he had progressed far enough as a pilot to find a flying job and he left school before finishing his degree.

In the intervening years, in addition to raising Mya and Tyler, he switched careers, starting the nonprofit K9 PTSD Center. The organization heals retired police dogs suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Dogs, like their human handlers, can develop PTSD and behavioral changes after encountering stressful, violent situations. Among his canine clients is Dakota, who responded during the 2013 manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers in Watertown.

“It’s the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had in my life, just to work with these dogs,” Lamonte said.

Expecting to complete his bachelor’s degree in December, he decided to return to school now because of the online class offerings during the pandemic. He is studying psychology with the goal of pursuing a PhD that allows him to expand his organization’s research about dogs and PTSD.

“It’s pretty cool,” said daughter Mya, a freshman who is considering majoring in psychology. “It shows how much he values education.”

For now, Lamonte said he’s relishing the unique opportunity to take college classes at the same time as his two children.

“One thing I love about Bridgewater is the incredible cultural diversity,” he said. “I wanted them to continue to be exposed to cultural diversity.”

The trio has each other to lean on for support as they navigate remote learning from their Seekonk home. There’s even a friendly rivalry over who earns the best grades.

“It’s better to go through as a team,” said Tyler, a transfer student studying accounting and finance as a member of the Class of 2023.  “It’s competitive. We’re striving to be better.”

The siblings say they also appreciate their father’s commitment to education.

“It’s a positive thing to look up to,” Mya said. “This is something that makes him really happy.”

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