“People Are My BC”
For quadruple Eagle Juan Concepción, Esq., ’96, MEd’97, MBA’03, JD’03, the people are what makes Boston College special.
A three-and-a-half-hour drive, the journey from Washington Heights, NYC, to Chestnut Hill isn’t particularly long or arduous. Coming from a predominantly Hispanic, low-income neighborhood ravaged by the war on drugs, it might as well have been a trip to a different planet for Juan Concepción. “BC was a shock in many ways,” he recalls, “I met a lot of people who had never experienced life the way I had.”
Feeling alienated at first, Juan found a home in Lyons 301, where the Black Studies program (now called African and African Diaspora Studies) was housed. “It was my little piece of New York in Chestnut Hill,” says Juan, “a place where I didn’t feel the need to explain myself.” He credits mentors like founding program director Amanda V. Houston, assistant director Sandra Sanderford, and professors Derek Evans, Dr. Karen Miller, and Dr. Frank Taylor for reassuring him his perspective was just as important as any. “That’s something BC gave me that’s helped me so much in life: they valued me at a time when I wasn’t sure society valued me that much,” he says.
Four degrees later, it goes without saying that Concepción found his place at Boston College. Today, he stands out among Eagles for his service on the Board of Trustees, as a co-founder of the AHANA Alumni Advisory Council, and for his overall commitment to advancing the University. Concepción remains a tireless advocate for social justice, serving on the board of directors of Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR-Boston) and helping to raise over $30 million for the New Commonwealth Fund to combat systemic racism in Massachusetts.
“My grandmother showed me the joy of giving—the beautiful thing that happens inside when you give something other people need. When I think back to her and the people of BC who did so much for me, it inspires me to do the same for others. How could I not give back? How could I not help BC do what it did for me for the next generation of students who just really need a break?
“Considering the things I went without growing up, no one could have convinced that young boy that the next chapter of his life would be as sweet as it has been. I owe that to a lot of people at Boston College—they are my BC.”