From the day she was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital, on the site where University Crossing now stands, UMass Lowell has been part of Claire Hall’s life.
She grew up on Wilder Street on South Campus, where she watched O’Leary Library and Durgin Hall sprout up in the 1970s. She’s worked at the university for 36 years – the last 16 as recruiting manager for the Career and Co-op Center. She even met her husband, Scott Hall ’93, on campus.
And now, three decades after starting her bachelor’s degree in American studies at the university, Hall can call herself a UML graduate.
“It feels very good to be done,” says Hall, who returned to school a year and a half ago through the Division of Online and Continuing Education to complete the eight courses that remained after she left in the early ’90s to care for her ailing parents.
“I knew I had to finish,” says Hall, who took six courses online and two in person. “The Politics of Food” and “Italian American Literature and Culture” were her favorites.
“It was neat to be in the classroom again,” she says. “I met two other undergraduate students who kind of welcomed me and said, ‘Oh, hi. What’s your name?’ Even though there was a big age difference, they made it a great experience.”
Hall was inspired to get her college degree by her late mother, Yvonne Hoffman.
“My parents grew up in the Depression and didn’t have a chance to go to college. My mom told me I should take advantage of it,” says Hall, whose late sister, Susan Hoffman ’80, was the first in the family to go to college, earning a degree in political science from UML. The family established the Susan Hoffman Scholarship Fund after she passed away in 2010.
“We’ve always felt like UMass Lowell was part of our family,” says Hall, who has one other sister, Christine Haskell.
Hall now lives in Westford, but Lowell will always be home.
“UMass Lowell was our backyard,” says Hall, who lived on Wilder Street for 40 years. She remembers sledding on the hill behind Allen House with her sisters in the winter. In the summer, her father William would sell produce from the family garden to faculty and staff. Hall remembers loading veggies into a wagon and helping him deliver them to Dugan Hall.
“I’ve done the cycle of life here,” Hall says. “Now I have a degree, and I’m proud of it.”