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Colin McLean / Gavel Media

Messina College: BC's Ninth School Set to Open July 2024

Boston College’s inaugural two-year degree program is slated to open its doors this summer. Yet, despite the importance of this initiative, there has been relatively little talk on campus about BC opening its ninth school this summer. Dubbed Messina College, the school will “provide 100 first-generation, high financial need students each year with an opportunity to pursue an associate's degree from BC, with the goal of preparing them to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program or to begin their careers,” an endeavor which aligns with BC’s stated commitment to increasing access to education for underrepresented students. 

Messina College falls under the Pine Manor Institute for Student Success, a $100 million initiative seeking to support disadvantaged students in their pursuit of higher education. Other programs in the Pine Manor Institute for Student Success include Options Through Education (OTE), a free summer program offered prior to matriculation for a group of distinguished freshmen who face obstacles educationally and financially, and The Academy, which offers underrepresented and disadvantaged students in grades eight through twelve year-round support and a summer program held on BC’s campus.

Messina College will be located on BC's new Brookline Campus, with its inaugural cohort of students slated to move in this July. Upon arriving on campus, and as they move through the program, Messina College students will be led by the founding dean of the school, Erick Berrelleza, S.J. Berrelleza has personal experience of the challenges faced by first-generation students in the world of post-secondary education, having been a first-generation student himself. 

On the Messina College website, Berrelleza shares his own experience of having parents who immigrated, which contributes to his dedication to inclusion in opportunities for education, a crucial aspect of the college’s mission. Having been a Jesuit for nearly two decades, and having experience in education spanning across several Jesuit institutions, Berrelleza is a well-seasoned educator and will serve as an excellent founding dean of this significant program. His personal experience as a first-generation child of immigrants, coupled with his extensive research and religious experiences witnessing exclusion and inequality, make him a prudent choice as Messina College’s first dean.

Additionally, Berrelleza has conducted research focused on neighborhoods in Boston, which further exposed him to inequities present in this country. As is evident, Berrelleza has had great exposure to the rampant exclusion baked into the institutions this country was founded on and continues to uphold today. Messina College, by providing access to a strong education for its underrepresented student population, will fight exclusion in academia, an issue with far-reaching implications.

The Messina College website also features a message from Berrelleza, welcoming prospective students and addressing some common questions they may have about the program. Notably, Messina College will offer its students a choice between four majors: General Business, Applied Data Science, Applied Psychology and Human Development, and Health Sciences. 

Matriculants to the program will complete their degree in 60 credits, which include several courses aligned with BC’s comprehensive core curriculum. This means students will graduate after having completed 20 courses. The degree Messina College students earn will position them well to earn their bachelor’s degree or pursue their career.

The college, with its location on BC’s Brookline Campus, will be accessible via an additional bus route, similar to the current Commonwealth Avenue and Newton Campus routes. As undergraduates of BC, Messina College students will have full access to BC’s facilities, offerings, and campus. Berrelleza is also interested in opportunities that will encourage students from all of BC’s schools to interact with one another, describing his enthusiasm for potential intramural, academic, and service-based opportunities for students from all of BC’s schools to come together. 

All in all, Messina College offers an essential means for BC to uphold its Jesuit values in the fight against educational inequity. The school, along with the Pine Manor Institute for Student Success as a whole, is a promising display of BC’s increased commitment to supporting underrepresented students in accessing an education that often otherwise excludes them. Welcoming this new cohort of students to campus this summer will be a momentous occasion—one that marks an era of greater inclusion in the education that BC offers.

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