Alumni Couple Continues Tradition of College Access
UMass Boston Fund donor Jim O’Sullivan ’80 CM doesn’t cry often. When he accepted an invitation back in 2008 to attend Chancellor J. Keith Motley’s inauguration, tears were far from his mind. Surely he anticipated the pomp and grandeur of such an occasion, from the academic regalia to the profound speeches on the meaning of education.
But when he unexpectedly encountered a group of original Tuskegee Airmen as part of the university’s inauguration honor guard, he was overcome with pride. The fact that his university had a close connection with these esteemed war heroes provoked O’Sullivan’s tears, a moment which immeasurably deepened his affection for his alma mater.
|Jim and Marie O'Sullivan, both graduates of the Class of 1980,
honor their;late classmate, Vincent Mastricola '82 through
contributions to a scholarship in his memory.
An Alumni Board member, he shared the story recently with a group of university donors who have consistently supported the UMass Boston Fund for twenty or more years. O’Sullivan, along with his wife, Marie CLA, also a 1980 graduate, are among them.
They began giving back to UMass Boston 24 years ago, when former classmate Vincent Mastricola ’82 CSM died tragically and a scholarship was initiated in his memory. What began as a tribute to a friend, has continued as a way to give others the opportunity that Marie and Jim were given back in 1975 – a chance to pursue higher education at an affordable cost.
“My books cost more than my tuition and fees,” O’Sullivan recalled. At $192 per semester, earning tuition and fees was “entirely do-able”through a summer job.” But that’s not the case today. He notes that if students could make the thousands of dollars necessary today to afford higher education, they wouldn’t even go to college. “They would just work in those jobs!” The O’Sullivans give “because students need the help much more than we ever did.”
Attending UMass Boston was one of O’Sullivan’s most prized decisions. “Not only because I met the love of my life,” but because he was mentored by former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Lee Tubbs, who encouraged him to go on to Northeastern Law School. “The average age of our classmates was 27 and we were serious about school. We graduated with a sophistication that readied us for the professional world.” Today, O’Sullivan is an attorney at O'Sullivan and Connolly, P.C. in Norwell.
O’Sullivan says he wouldn’t trade the education he and his wife received, and is pleased that supporting the university helps UMass Boston students who remind him of the hard-working young undergraduates he and his wife were 30 years ago. “It feels good to give back,” he says.