New Fund Extends Family’s Commitment
Some weekends you never forget. Joanne McCarthy will forever treasure the memory of a mild October Saturday when her daughter, Marijo McCarthy ’78, invited her for coffee on Marijo’s back deck.
Following weeks of planning with the University Advancement office, Marijo held an official letter from Chancellor Motley announcing the creation of the James and Joanne McCarthy Student Success Fund. The endowed fund, which was established with a $25,000 gift from Marijo, will support UMass Boston’s multiple initiatives for improving the student retention and graduation rates.
Joanne McCarthy was surprised, delighted, and deeply honored by the news. But she was even more excited when she learned that the gift would be augmented by a gift of $12,500 from the UMass Boston Alumni Association’s matching gifts program. The fund will benefit university programs like the new freshman success initiatives, the career collaborative, service-learning, and the honors programs.
For Marijo, the new fund honors two special people. She says her parents were incredibly hard workers “who never for an instant questioned whether their two daughters would go to college.” James McCarthy, who passed away a decade ago, especially understood the need for persistence in completing one’s undergraduate studies as his college career was twice interrupted by army duty. Joanne often reminds her daughter, “Your father would be so proud that you’ve used your education for such a worthy purpose”—referring to Marijo’s law firm, Widett and McCarthy, P.C., which serves small businesses.
|Marijo McCarthy and former governor Michael Dukakis at the annual Michael Dukakis Public Service Internshp student lunch.|
Over the past few years, Marijo has become increasingly involved with UMass Boston as a member of the Alumni Association Board and the new Board of Visitors. After graduating, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she joined Governor Dukakis’s legal/legislative office in 1974. She saw that her colleagues with law degrees seemed to have the greatest impact in state government and the public policy arena, so she returned to school for a law degree, graduating from Suffolk University Law School in 1982.
Marijo has found her association with UMass Boston coming full circle. In October 2011, she attended the university’s annual Michael Dukakis Public Service Luncheon, joining alumni, political science faculty, and the former governor himself to celebrate the Michael Dukakis Public Service Internship Fund, which sponsors undergraduate public service internships. Like the other internship alumni in attendance, Marijo was inspired early in her career by her government service with Dukakis. And her philanthropy, like his, is adding to the university’s legacy of student success.
Marijo sees her Board of Visitors membership as an opportunity to raise public awareness in the business community of the value of supporting public higher education in Massachusetts. “Eighty percent of UMass Boston’s undergraduate alumni remain in the Commonwealth bolstering the business and service sectors. But the Massachusetts Legislature currently provides only 23 percent of the university’s budget.”
Marijo believes that support of UMass Boston by the business community also creates awareness of the essential role played by the university in the education of the Commonwealth’s future workforce. “If I can encourage small-business owners and others to join the movement to support public higher education,” she says, “I will consider my efforts a big success.”
To learn about participating in the UMass Boston Alumni Association matching gifts program, contact Joe DeMedeiros at 617.287.5339.