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Opening Doors

Annual fundraiser provides students with many opportunities 

Today she is president and CEO of medical software giant Meditech, but Michelle O’Connor, ’88, remembers a time when she was struggling to manage both work and school as a first-generation student at Bridgewater State.

“My dad was an immigrant from Nova Scotia and a Boston police officer. My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and both came from a time when parents didn’t save for college, so to make it affordable I worked my way through college and had to find a balance,” she said.

Which is why, both personally and through her company, O’Connor donates to her alma mater to ease the financial burdens that some Bridgewater State University students face.

“Most Bridgewater students work; they can’t make ends meet without working,” she said.

Christian Pierce, ’22, is one such student. He transferred to BSU from a community college and is taking seven classes this semester while working 25 hours a week at an assisted living facility.

His paycheck covers food and gas, but otherwise Christian said, he finds it difficult to make ends meet.

“It has been very tough to pay rent because I am so focused on school right now,” he said.

Despite his hectic schedule, Christian has managed to maintain a 3.8 GPA, securing a spot on the dean’s list while working toward his degree in health studies with a minor in health resources management.

To stay focused on school he knew he needed help, particularly financial help, so he applied through BSU for and received a Meditech scholarship.

“The scholarship has helped me tremendously. It has supported my education and my future. I am able to pay for books, food, rent, gas, bills, car insurance, care maintenance and school supplies,” he said.

Providing that support is exactly why she gives, O’Connor said.

“Bridgewater allowed me to grow, so why not give to the college so they can make it more affordable or give a scholarship to somebody to help them see what their opportunities are?” she said.

 The financial assistance has certainly impacted Christian in positive ways.

“BSU was there when I needed it the most,” he said. “I thank (donors like O’Connor) for believing in me. Some of us don’t always end up having the same playing field or opportunities as others. The scholarship was the key to my success and making the dean’s list.”

On BSU’s Giving Day this year, O’Connor encourages others to donate if they can. Starting at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13, through 8:40 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, donations can be made here.

“Making sure kids like Christian can get through is so important,” O’Connor said. “We have to make sure students can achieve things and not let the dollar stand in the way.”

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