‘Diploma to Degree’ Program Helps Prepare Teens for College
By Georgiana Panagiotakos
Tom Ferraguto spent the afternoon of July 11, grilling more than 300 hamburgers for members of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell.
The director of the UMass Lowell Nanofabrication Laboratory, Ferraguto was joined at the grill by Tom Hammond, the CFO of Align Credit Union. This is the second summer in a row that the pair has teamed up with the club, as part of its Diploma to Degree program, or D2D.
D2D allows high school students to prepare for college through tours and field trips “inspiring them to reach their full potential,” says Joe Hungler, the executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell.
Last August Ferraguto and Hammond hosted D2D members on campus, giving them tours of the university’s Baseball Research Center
, as well as labs in the Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center, including the Material Characterization Laboratory, Nanofabrication Laboratory and the Plastics High-Bay Processing Laboratory. In each lab, they saw firsthand the research and high-tech experiments being conducted.
“Working with UMass Lowell is always great,” says Hungler, explaining that the D2D program opens young kids’ eyes to what there is to offer in their own backyard.
Last year, the tour included a meet-and-greet with two players from the Minor League Baseball team the Lowell Spinners, who told the kids that they could attain their goals with hard work. The athletes also joined the group for a pizza lunch and autographed balls for the kids.
One particular moment from the tour sticks in the minds of both Ferraguto and Hungler: At the end of the day, a 13-year-old boy approached the pair to tell them that it had been his favorite part of his whole summer.
This summer, meanwhile, many Boys and Girls club members told Ferraguto and Hammond that it was their first cookout.
The happy response was “more than worth a few burnt arm hairs,” says Ferraguto.
Ferraguto, Hungler, and Hammond are currently arranging another facilities tour for this year’s D2D students.
“I love this program because it shows that college is for everyone,” says Ferraguto.