In 2012, United States Marines veteran, Donald Shepherd, and his two-year-old autistic son, Jeremy, were living in a homeless shelter in Stoughton, MA, trying to figure out their next step and find a stable place to live. He met with staff members at the Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehab program, an agency that connects veterans to services that assist them in finding resources to secure employment options, and they told him about MassBay’s educational opportunities and its strong veterans support program. This meeting helped change the course of his future, with possibly, new career paths in sight.
Donald had joined the United States Marine Corps right after he graduated high school and served eight years as a stinger gunner, firing anti-aircraft missiles. After he completed his Marines duty, he returned home to Dedham, MA to work and nine years later, he decided to join the U.S. Army National Guard. When Donald came to MassBay’s campus, he met Marie Hahs, Veterans Coordinator, who “guided me through what was expected of me as a college student and what the college process would be like,” said Donald. After nine-months in the homeless shelter, Donald moved into an apartment, giving him a stable environment for Jeremy and the ability to focus on his studies.
“I had no idea what college was like. I was a 39-year-old single dad who never went to college. After my first year, I was nominated President of the MassBay Veterans Club. The club offers an excellent opportunity for student veterans to have a connection with staff at the college. As an older student and a veteran, I did not think I would be able to relate to the younger students, but I quickly learned I could and had the chance to share my life experiences with many of them,” added Donald.
Donald graduated MassBay in 2014 with his associate degree in Human Services and transferred to Bridgewater State University, earning his bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Wheelock College, earning his master’s degree in Social Work. He is now a therapist at an intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment center in Quincy, MA. Donald lives in Norwood with his 10-year-old son Jeremy.
MassBay Community College is ranked by the Brookings Institution as one of the top schools for value added and earned salaries in the workforce. Ranked #1 for two-year colleges in Massachusetts, #2 in New England, and #16 nationally. The College’s facilities in Wellesley Hills, Framingham, and Ashland house day, evening and weekend classes that meet the needs of degree-seeking students and career minded life-long learners. Online options provide convenience and allow faculty to facilitate the learning process. Since its founding in 1961, MassBay has been accredited by several governing bodies and strives to meet the needs of the diverse local communities it serves.