Messina College Dean Erick Berrelleza, S.J., at right, chatted with students and their families at the first Admitted Students Day. (Photos by Lee Pellegrini)

Messina College prepares to welcome its first class

The inaugural class of first-generation students will arrive in July

Messina College, the new two-year degree program of Boston College, is building up—quite literally and figuratively—to the days in July when it will welcome its inaugural class of first-generation students to the Brookline Campus.

Messina College Dean Erick Berrelleza, S.J., is the one simultaneously guiding upgrades to classrooms, labs, community, and dining spaces, overseeing student recruitment and admission, and faculty hiring, while assembling staff and a leadership team.

After a walk around the campus, the obvious question emerges: Is this at all overwhelming?

“No,” said Fr. Berrelleza on a recent day, under the watchful eyes of a flock of Canada geese cooling their wings outside the administration building. “I tell people all the time that there are lots of people helping me and helping Messina College. This is a University-wide initiative.”

Inaugural Messina Admitted Students Day event with incoming students and family members taking place on the Brookline Campus featuring speakers and a campus tour.

Office of Student Involvement Director Roatha Kong speaking at Admitted Students Day. First-year students will arrive in July for a six-week program that introduces them to college life.

He cites the close partnerships with the departments and offices of Admission and Financial Aid, Facilities, Auxiliary Services, Institutional Research and Planning, and the Career Center—to name a few—as well as the offices of President William P. Leahy, S.J., and Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley.

“Students will be here in July,” Fr. Berrelleza said. “We don’t have time to get overwhelmed. We just keep moving toward the goal.”

Messina College is part of the University’s $100 million Pine Manor Institute for Student Success initiative to enhance educational opportunity for underrepresented, first-generation students, who will pursue an associate’s degree—the first time in its history that BC has offered such an academic program. In all, Messina will eventually enroll 200 students, who will live in residence halls on the Brookline Campus.

Messina College is working toward its goal to enroll approximately 100 students in its inaugural class, Berrelleza says. So far 64 students have been admitted. Fr. Berrelleza has hosted one Admitted Eagles Day and more are scheduled to take place. Recruitment efforts are focused on high schools in the areas in and around Boston, Brockton, Bridgewater, Lowell, Lawrence, Springfield, Worcester, and Providence.

“It is a pleasure to meet with these students and tell them about the opportunity to study at Boston College,” Fr. Berrelleza said. “Like them, I was the first in my family to go to college. Like many of them, I spoke Spanish at home. I like to share my academic and personal journey with them so they can see what is possible here at Messina and in their futures. It is an exciting part of this job.”

Aligned with BC’s Undergraduate Core Curriculum, Messina offers the majors of Applied Data Science, Applied Psychology & Human Development, General Business, and Health Sciences. With their degrees, students can apply to earn bachelor’s degrees at BC or other four-year colleges and universities, or go on to other programs focused on specialized skills, careers, or public service.

Inaugural Messina Admitted Students Day event with incoming students and family members taking place on the Brookline Campus featuring speakers and a campus tour.

Professor, Deluca Chair of Biology, and Vice Provost for Research Thomas Chiles (left) and Vice President for University Mission & Ministry Jack Butler, S.J., were in attendance at the first Admitted Students Day; more events are in the works.

Career discernment and preparation are built into the Messina curriculum, Fr. Berrelleza said. In the fall of their second year, students will complete an internship or clinical rotation, take an accompanying course, and work closely with a Boston College Career Center coach throughout the internship process.

“We are preparing them to be citizens of the world,” said Fr. Berrelleza.

First-year students will arrive in July for a six-week program that introduces them to the curriculum, demands, and rhythms of college life, modeled after Options Through Education, a long-standing summer program and a pillar of the Pine Manor Institute for Student Success.

Of all his tasks launching Messina, Fr. Berrelleza prizes the chance to welcome admitted students to Boston College.

“One of the most meaningful steps in the admissions process for me is calling students to let them know they have been accepted,” Fr. Berrelleza said. “It’s really heartwarming to hear their reactions. It’s clear that we are making history here.”

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