Director of Graduate Student Life Carole Hughes was named a Pillar of the Profession by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), according to a University release.
“[Hughes] has mentored generations of students and student affairs professionals,” said Hannah Chalufour, Boston College’s assistant director of graduate student life. “Her generosity of spirit and her ability to nurture community and empower and inspire others seem to know no bounds. She’s a gift to our field, and her impact cannot be overstated.”
Hughes won the award after 35 years at BC and long-term involvement with the NASPA. She said she was honored to receive an award that recognizes student affairs professionals who have participated in leadership roles for the organization.
“I was deeply honored that some of my colleagues locally and nationally had nominated me to be in the 2023 Pillar of the Profession class,” Hughes said in an email to The Heights.
Hughes said she began working with NASPA as a graduate student at Boston University, and she currently serves as the public policy representative for the NASPA Regional Advisory Board. According to Hughes, she was notified about her award win through a phone call she received in October.
“The NASPA Foundation Board [notified me] because they raised the money for NASPA,” she said. “It’s the chair of the board, who’s a college president out in Montana, who called to tell me about it.”
At BC, Hughes directs the Office of Graduate Student Life, a division of Student Affairs. Hughes said that the office aims to support graduate students through programs such as the Graduate Student Association and Murray House, a place where students are free to study and spend their free time.
“We’re going to keep trying to do what students would like us to do, hopefully,” she said. “We try to do assessments, figure out what things they might like to do, but what they really like is having this space, which is really important to them.”
Chalufour, who said she works closely with Hughes, added that the mission of the office is to support graduate students at BC and help create a community for them.
“Our mission is to support and enhance the graduate student experience for the 5,000 graduate students at BC—assisting them in their transition to graduate school, creating community, and serving as a hub to connect grad students to the wide variety of resources available to them at BC,” Chalufour said in an email to The Heights.
Chalufour said that Hughes skillfully collaborates with BC’s schools to help support students.
“She is an exceptionally strong collaborator and advocate and works closely with partners across campus and in the 8 graduate schools and colleges to support the graduate student experience at BC,” Chalufour said.
Zeke DeWitt, a graduate assistant at the Office of Graduate Student Life and LGSOE ’23, said he was not surprised when he read on LinkedIn that Hughes won the award.
“When you step back and think about it, it was maybe one of the least surprising things that I had seen in a while, because she’s a tremendous force at BC and in the profession, and it was really great to see her be formally recognized,” DeWitt said.
According to DeWitt, Hughes focuses on BC graduate students’ development.
“She’s very much focused on the professional development that we get as students but also making sure that while this is obviously a part of our experience, it’s not the whole thing–that we’re able to focus as students, that we’re able to take the classes that we want to take, and sort of have that really well-rounded experience, but at the same time making the work that we do here feel as though it’s meaningful,” DeWitt said.
DeWitt credited Hughes as a positive influence on his time at BC and said that he was excited to see Hughes recognized for her work.
“Working in this office and working with her, along with [Chalufour], has probably been the most influential part of my Boston College experience,” DeWitt said. “And it was just really great as someone in the profession to see her get recognized.”