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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Donna Neal

Donna+Neal
Donna Neal

Donna Neal’s funeral was held at St. Ann’s Church in Quincy on the morning of Jan. 12. Donna was the Assistant Director of the Office of Student Activities and Leadership and oversaw The Mass Media, among other student-run organizations.

Donna acted as the student advisor for The Mass Media during my time at the paper (Fall 2012 to Summer 2017). She served in this position for more than 30 years.

The title “student advisor” was one that best fit her. But her title went above and beyond the newspaper. Donna was always there for me, or anyone, regardless of whether it was an issue in class or something going on at home. She always had an answer for any situation, and when she did not, it seemed that the world was going to end.

There are many adjectives that can describe Donna: fiercely loyal, smart, funny, caring, protective, just to name a few. All of those made her what she was to us and what she was to her family. According to her family, Donna saw us as her second family. She was very protective of all of us, and made sure we could run the newspaper without being stressed.

Donna’s knowledge always amazed me. It extended past her undergraduate degree in psychology. She always knew something about every topic, no matter how obscure.

Returning from the funeral, I began contemplating how she always called us her students. The more I dwelled, the more I realized how she was a professor in her own way. Donna’s lessons were not taught in a classroom, but over a cup of coffee and maybe a handful of candy. There were no textbooks or syllabi and her classes could never be taught in a classroom. Each was catered to the issue at hand. Her lessons often involved humor that would have us dying of laughter in our dark times. Donna was the professor of Real Life 101, and her lessons have been applicable past the mortar and bricks that make up the University of Massachusetts Boston.

As I looked around at the wake, I realized how many lives Donna touched. She helped so many people get to where they are now. I was told that Donna helped hundreds of students during her time at the university. Donna’s love, support, and connections have launched her students into great internships and their desired career fields.

Even though the sadness of Donna’s passing will continue, her teachings will continue on also. I am by no means a religious person, but if a heaven exists, I know Donna will be running the show.