From homeless to helping others

When Jackson's Center for Leadership, Advocacy, and Supportive Services, Inc., helps people facing homelessness, CEO Sasha Heggie- Jackson, ’16, can relate to what they are experiencing. She overcame homelessness herself about six years ago.

“I know what it’s like to need help and not know where to go,” she said. “A lot of what I’ve been through has helped me want to give back and educate others. … Being able to help someone else who may be experiencing something similar is really rewarding.”

Student Spotlight

It must be nice to rewrite history as a senior in college. Vanessa Sherman, ’19, recently did just that. For her efforts, she earned a place at Posters on the Hill, one of the nation’s most prestigious forums for undergraduate research.

Cynthia Svoboda, ’84

Her initial dream had been to become a kindergarten teacher, but after Cynthia Svoboda, ’84, took an afterschool job at the Mansfield Public Library, that changed. Being surrounded by books, helping others with academic work and research, and always learning new things seemed like an interesting and fulfilling way to spend a career.

“Libraries and librarians are bridges,” she said. “We help people make academic and social connections beyond the classroom. Also, libraries provide spaces for users to engage with each other, with technology, with research materials and more.”

Dr. John Marvelle, ’72, G’76

If there’s a hallmark of Dr. John Marvelle’s long and impressive career, it’s movement. That may sound strange describing a man who’s spent his college years and most of his career at the same place.

However, his wide-ranging interests and desire to deliver to his students life-shaping experiences means stasis isn’t an option. “I’ve been through a lot of changes,” said Dr. Marvelle, a professor in the Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education. “Lots of it has to do with luck and spectacular mentors here at Bridgewater and other places,” he said.

Alumni Profile

It took a lot of patience for Joe Hogarty to make it to the big leagues, but eventually he got his chance.

After graduating from Bridgewater State, he knew it could take time to reach his goal. “I had the mindset to push further, but maintained the patience to see what life could offer,” he said.

He eventually found a home with the Baltimore Orioles as the team’s strength and conditioning coach.

Forever young

All along, Elizabeth Scarbrough believed graduating from Bridgewater State was her destiny. She’d been accepted as a high school student living on Cape Cod, but life tossed a few curveballs her way.

The primary obstacle was the death of her father while she was attending Chatham High School.

Life altering

Looking at her today, it doesn’t seem possible that going to college was once an uncertainty for Gina Anderson.

High school seniors often don’t think twice about continuing their education after graduating, but Gina had some perceived limitations that almost diverted her from doing so.

She is not only deaf in one ear, but also has intellectual disabilities that require medication.

“After Gina graduated from high school, she said she wanted to go to college. I thought, why shouldn’t I let her go?” said her mother, Sarah Anderson.   

Dr. Gregory Karas, ’98, G’03

They say timing is everything. For Dr. Gregory Karas it certainly was.

He was working in Boston one summer several years ago, when out of the blue he decided to check out what was going on at his alma mater. He clicked on the Bridgewater State website and found a headline seemingly addressed directly to him.

“The main news item was about the launch of the new master’s program in accounting. As luck, or fate, would have it, the information session was that same night,”
Dr. Karas recalled.

Dr. Jeri Katz, G’78

Dr. Jeri Katz was hooked early in life on her chosen profession.

She grew up in New London, Connecticut, where in eighth grade she began volunteering in her hometown’s Headstart program. As a high school student, she served at a camp for students with disabilities and, in her junior year, tutored students each week at the Little Red Schoolhouse, a substantially separate public school program for students with severe disabilities. With that, her path was sealed. “I liked seeing the small steps the children made,” Dr. Katz said.

Vivi Pierce, ’11, G’14, CAGS’18

For Professor Vivi Pierce, Bridgewater State University is like a second home.

“That’s why I kept coming back for my graduate degrees as well,” she said. “When I decided that I wanted to teach at the college level, it was the natural place to apply. I also knew that there were so many excellent faculty members in the math department that I could learn from, and those are the kind of people I want to work with.”


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