2016 2016: Thomas and Valerie Stanwood: Eight Years Later

2016 2016: Thomas and Valerie Stanwood: Eight Years Later
Thomas and Valerie Stanwood: Eight Years Later

Thomas and Valerie began their lifelong connection at UMass Dartmouth

Val and Tom Stanwood

Mediocrity is not a word that Thomas Stanwood ’08 is familiar with. His conversation is filled with words like driven, successful, and confident.

“For better or for worse, I’ve always had varied interests: practicing law, playing the drums, golf, and archery,” he said.

Today, Tom is an attorney in practice with his wife Valerie Amaral Stanwood ’08. And he has dreams of Olympic gold in archery.

Thomas Stanwood arrives at UMass Dartmouth

Tom transferred to UMass Dartmouth from Johnson and Wales University. At 25, he was certain about two things—being a philosophy major and going to law school.

“I knew that law school wasn’t too concerned with your major,” he said. “And I read that philosophy majors were successful in law school.”

Valerie Amaral committed to higher education

Valerie Amaral ’08, who arrived on the Dartmouth campus as a freshman around the same time as Tom, wasn’t as certain about what she wanted to study.

“I always knew that I wanted to continue beyond my bachelor’s degree,” she said. “But when I first started at UMass Dartmouth, I was going to major in music.”

However, Val took a Political Science course, which completely changed her focus. Instead of studying musical notes, she decided to major in Political Science and study law notes.

“One of the special things for me about UMass Dartmouth was the idea that you could change your major,” Val said. “It’s a school with diverse classes that you can sample.”

Tom and Val meet in Spanish class

Tom and Val crossed paths one semester in a Spanish class. Although they were too shy to speak to one another that semester, each made an impression on the other.

The next semester, their shyness turned into friendship, friendship grew into a relationship, and the relationship eventually became a marriage.

Attorneys Valerie and Thomas Stanwood, alums of Suffolk Law School, practice law at Hoyt Legal in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. They focus their practice on commercial litigation.

But they succeed at more than just practicing law. Val is an accomplished singer and previous Miss Massachusetts winner. And Tom has that 2016 Olympic dream.

Tom succeeds at archery

As a teenager, Tom watched the movie trailer for Robin Hood and discovered a role model. “Robin Hood looked pretty cool shooting arrows,” Tom said. “So I began shooting tree stumps in my Middleboro neighborhood.”

Young Thomas competed locally, won a handful of state and New England championships, and still holds local records. But Tom developed other interests and put his compound bow on the shelf.

 In 2009, the Suffolk law student picked up the Olympic recurve bow for the first time. Although it was physically demanding, Tom wasn’t surprised he was good. “I remembered I was good when I first started shooting arrows as a kid,” he said.

The Olympic Dream

So good that he tried out for the 2012 Olympic Archery team. Unfortunately, he was named an alternate and missed out on bringing home the silver medal.

But he didn’t give up. “I don’t want to be a what-if guy,” he said. “I don’t want to be 60 years old wishing I did it again.”

So, he’s getting ready for April’s Olympic trials, where the field will be reduced to the top eight archers in the country.

In May, the trials will cut the field down to the top three, who will travel to Rio de Janeiro for the Summer Olympics. Tom hopes to be one of them. “I want to see what I am capable of.”