Feature Stories 2024: Shelly Scott goes the extra mile to love & support UMassD students through adversity

Shelly Scott
Feature Stories 2024: Shelly Scott goes the extra mile to love & support UMassD students through adversity
Shelly Scott goes the extra mile to love & support UMassD students through adversity

Scott does whatever she can to help students succeed, including investing in their potentials and financially supporting their endeavors with philanthropic giving.

There’s an old saying, “Students who are loved at home come to school to learn. Students who aren’t, go to school to be loved.” For the past 14 years as UMass Dartmouth’s Associate Dean of Student Affairs, Shelly Scott has developed close relationships with students from both sides of the spectrum. She has witnessed the inspiring stories of success in her supportive role on campus, but she has also seen the adversity that a typical college student experiences while in pursuit of their degree.

Scott always kept a variety of snacks for students to munch on when they visited her office. As she spent more time with them, she and her colleagues began to sense that food insecurity was an issue for students. 

“A lot of people don’t think there could ever be food insecurity on a college campus,” Scott said. Even she struggled to climb that hill as a senior at Clark University who didn’t have a meal plan so she could pay her tuition bill in full. “People don’t realize the decisions that students have to make to buy a book or be able to enroll and attend class. One of the hardest things to do is identify food insecurity and then provide help.”

After seeing student after student sacrifice their access to food to have opportunities in college, Scott said enough was enough. Along with two former students and Frank Lucca, coordinator of religious and spiritual life, she helped jumpstart Jeanne’s Cupboard, which supplies food and other necessities for any UMass Dartmouth student, faculty, or staff member who is facing financial uncertainty.

“It was very difficult for some people to understand that there was an issue,” Scott said, but it was a battle she would fight tooth and nail in the name of student livelihood. “David Milstone, the chief student affairs office at the time, supported pursuing this endeavor. To this day, his leadership influences how I approach working with students every day.”

Scott still volunteers to stock up on food and assist students while they shop during her free time. She helps unload the food delivery from the Boston Food Ban to the shelves of the on-campus pantry. Scott goes the extra mile to support Jeanne’s Cupboard by donating her hard-earned funds right to it. She participates in UMassD’s annual day of giving without fail, another way of fulfilling her commitment to student triumph.

“I believe in our students. I know what they can do and what I’ve seen them do,” Scott said. “I want to put my money where my mouth is and actually show how much I believe in them. People think I’m an alumna because I give, but I’m not. This is the first public institution I’ve ever worked at, and I feel that this was what I was born to do, to support students however I can.”

Scott’s role includes coordinating orientations for incoming students and supporting first-year students and their families, commuter students, and student veterans. With the help of dedicated student leaders serving as commuter assistants and veteran assistants, they continue to support the unique needs of these student populations throughout he year. Monthly programs such as the Commuter Pit Stop and Grub n’ Gather breakfasts in the Veteran Lounge build community within these groups. 

Helping these student populations also opened her eyes to the personal hoops that students must leap through to graduate on time, so Scott also donates to the Student Emergency Fund to help them overcome those obstacles.

“A case can be made to give based on any experience you’ve had at UMass Dartmouth,” Scott said. “Help be the change. Wouldn’t you want to leave things better than how you found them?”

While UMass Dartmouth’s walls made be made of gray concrete, the people within have warm, loving hearts of blue and gold, and Scott may just have the biggest of them all.

If you'd like to make an even greater impact on UMass Dartmouth students by making a donation, start with a payroll deduction or contact the Office of Annual Giving at giving@umassd.edu