Third grade UP Academy Dorchester teacher and Stonehill alumna Nicole Bollerman ’10 received the President's Award for Excellence at the College’s 56th annual President’s Dinner on Thursday, June 2nd. One of Stonehill's highest honors, the President's Award honors individuals and organizations that have made unique and outstanding contributions to public life, business, and to the arts and sciences.
Last year, Bollerman donated all of a $150,000 prize she won in a contest to UP Academy Dorchester which serves low-income, high-risk elementary school students.
“Selfless in your outreach, you set a remarkable example of devotion to the care and education of your students. In doing so, you touched hearts everywhere and nowhere more powerfully than here at your alma mater where we have taken so much pride in what you have achieved,” said Stonehill President John Denning, C.S.C. in presenting the award to Bollerman.
“I’m a third grade teacher in a low-income, high-risk elementary school in Boston, MA. My #wishforothers is that my voracious, adorable, hard-working, loving scholars all leave for their December break with a book in their hands,” wrote Bollerman in her winning post for the Facebook contest sponsored by CapitalOne, which asked people to submit their wish for others with the promise of cash prizes for a handful of lucky winners.
Not just a winner, but the grand prize winner, Bollerman subsequently surprised her third grade students with books she bought them using the $150,000 prize. Her decision to donate the rest of the money to UP Academy Dorchester was an easy one. “
As she reflected in her acceptance speech at the President’s Dinner, “I did what Stonehill helped prepare me to do. In short, I acted like a Stonehill graduate,” said Bollerman to a crowd of over 500 friends and neighbors of the College.
From a cover-story in The Boston Globe to appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Bollerman’s kind act caught the attention of people around the country. For Bollerman though, the best part about the experience was allowing the world to see her students for what they truly are.
“The publicity I received gave the chance for the world to see that my students were incredible, happy, smart, resilient kids that were more than the stereotypes that was attached to their skin color, socio-economic level and neighborhood,” said Bollerman.
Now in her third year of teaching at UP Academy Dorchester, the 2010 Stonehill graduate said she felt destined to be a teacher.
“I became a teacher to be able to make a positive difference; to make the future brighter for children. For me, teaching is a fun and fulfilling challenge: I live to stimulate and encourage the next generation to become lifelong learners.”