Thomas Baldwin began volunteering at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club when he was in high school.
After graduation, he was unsure what he wanted to do, so he postponed college. In the meantime, his volunteer work turned into a part-time job and then a full-time job.
More than a decade later, he works wherever he’s needed to make sure the children in the club’s care are happy and safe: in the basketball program, the afterschool program or at the front desk.
Baldwin is also studying full time, pursuing a history major and a legal studies minor through a mix of online and on-campus classes. He transferred here from Middlesex Community College in Bedford, where he earned an associate degree in history, politics and global studies.
“I’ve always loved learning about history, especially European history,” he says. “I thought it might not be the best major for getting a job afterward, but I enjoy it.”
He was wrong about the job part, though. While discussing his future with a family friend, he learned that studying history is great preparation for law school and a career as an attorney, among other jobs. When Baldwin took Introduction to Legal Studies with Assoc. Teaching Prof. Michelle Veilleux, he found his vocation.
“When I look at the law, it all clicks,” he says. “Going over cases and analyzing them, I’m able to understand what’s happening and understand the decisions.”
Veilleux has given him lots of valuable career advice. And an Introduction to Business Law class taught by Assoc. Teaching Prof. Walter Toomey, who co-directs the Legal Studies Program with Veilleux, inspired Baldwin to pursue business and contract law, first as a paralegal and then as a lawyer.
Since then, he’s taken courses in corporate and property law, sports and entertainment law and paralegal studies.
“I just wish I had more of those classes to take,” he says.
He’s also greatly enjoying his history classes. His advisor urged him to branch out beyond American and European history, so he took China and the Modern World, taught by Assoc. Prof. Shehong Chen. He says Chen broadened his world view.
“Professor Chen was able to give accounts of her firsthand experience. She was teaching English in China in 1989 when the Tiananmen Square protests were going on,” he says.
Baldwin says all of his professors have been helpful, both in class and out.
“There’s a lot of support,” he says. “I’ve never met a teacher unwilling to help a student out, whether with real-world advice or academic advice.”