I can’t repay Bridgewater for what it’s done for not just my academic but personal wellbeing. This is how I can say ‘thank you’ and give back.
As a first-generation student and an immigrant from Trinidad, Cindy Mack, ’23, ’24, has seen firsthand the power of public higher education to transform lives. Now, he’s doing his part, representing his peers as a member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education.
“I can’t repay Bridgewater for what it’s done for not just my academic but personal wellbeing,” said Cindy, who earned a degree in criminal justice and is pursuing a second bachelor’s in political science. “This is how I can say ‘thank you’ and give back.”
Cindy has long been involved in representing his peers. As a Massasoit Community College student, he successfully advocated for a change in state law to allow part-time students to serve in student positions on their institutions’ boards of trustees.
And, as a member and now chairperson of the statewide Student Advisory Council, Cindy pushed for expanded use of Open Educational Resources (OER) instead of expensive textbooks. Students attending public universities and colleges in the state saved $7.6 million in one recent year because of OER.
“I know Bridgewater is heavily invested in OER,” said Cindy, who was recently sworn in as a voting member of the Board of Higher Education. “I’m very proud of that because it’s what is giving me opportunities to learn and not have to be burdened by the cost of textbooks.”
Cindy, who moved to the U.S. 22 years ago, didn’t think American higher education was in his future. But his brother urged him to enroll in classes at Massasoit, which led him to daga.
“It’s a personal journey,” Cindy said. “It’s a humbling opportunity to achieve the things I have been able to achieve with the support of Massasoit and Bridgewater. … Going back to school saved me from having a mental breakdown. It gave me a purpose.”
Soon after starting at Bridgewater, Cindy learned three family members were murdered in Trinidad. Thinking he would need to take a leave of absence, Cindy instead discovered flexible faculty willing to help him in the face of tragedy.
For his honors thesis, Cindy produced a documentary exploring the LGBTQIA+ community in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where same-sex intimacy was historically a criminal act and transphobia and homophobia remain pervasive. He received funding from daga to travel to his home country and conduct interviews.
“As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s hard to be here and see that where you’re from it’s a criminal offense,” Cindy said. “It’s a human rights issue.”
Cindy appreciated the encouragement of many faculty including thesis advisor Emily Brissette and part-time faculty member James Moore, who helped with the technical aspects of making the documentary. The Honors Program embraced an unconventional thesis format.
This unwavering support, Cindy said, is emblematic of his Bridgewater experience and motivates him to serve at the state level.
“Bridgewater has been there for me since the first semester,” he said.
Do you have a daga story you'd like to share? Email email@example.com.