By Zenaida Bufford
When Jamir Carr left Philadelphia and headed a few states over to Massachusetts, he thought he had found his new home. He was about to spend the next four years of his life at Becker College, forming unbreakable bonds with his teammates over their love for basketball. He thought he was going to be able finish his senior year with his many brothers while their coaches cheered them on. He thought he’d be able to walk across the stage in 2021 at his college graduation and celebrate afterwards with the same people he had met during his freshman orientation. Unfortunately, this will no longer be the case.
On Monday morning, March 29, 2021, the news broke that Becker College, whose campuses reside in both Worcester and Leicester, was closing after 237 long years. Like many institutions and businesses, COVID-19 has taken a toll and left its victims in tough financial situations that many have not been able to recover from.
“I was devastated,” said Carr. “I honestly couldn’t believe the news.”
To make matters worse, Carr initially found out about his school closing through social media. At the time, it was just speculation, but as more news broke, and more students started sharing the rumors with each other, it was only a matter of time before the saddening news came out.
Becker College’s Chris Bullock was getting ready for class on the Monday morning when the official announcement that Becker College was closing was made.
“The president of the school sent out an email at approximately 9 a.m.,” said Bullock. “It was a bit of a shock and kind of a let down since we didn’t get to play ball for the fall season.”
Bullock is a student-athlete at Becker who was a member of the football team and expected to graduate from the college in 2022. This news was especially painful for him, considering he has attended three colleges in the last few years, and he thought he was going to be able to settle in at Becker for good.
“I’m going to miss all of the connections I have made with my teammates and professors,” added Bullock. “They made me feel at home.”
When current Fitchburg State junior Adam Kirsch heard the news about the closing of Becker, he couldn’t help but to think back to his freshman year of college when both Southern Vermont and Newbury College had closed. He found out the news through social media as well, and couldn’t help but feel a bit sad about the closing of his former residence.
“It was my first home,” said Kirsch. “I met some of my closest friends there so it was a very sad moment for me and even my parents because they had been hoping this wouldn’t happen.”
Kirsch transferred to Fitchburg State from Becker College last year when he began to doubt whether Becker would be able to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic with a shrinking student body. Former member of the Becker Baseball Team, Kirsch left behind many close friends and great relationships with his professors. His easy accessibility to his caring professors and their genuine passion for teaching is what he misses most.
As of right now, Becker has been extremely accommodating and helpful to those who have been displaced, according to a number of students. Colleges all over the city of Worcester have teamed up to open their doors and welcome these new students with open arms. Down the street, Clark has extended their school, as well as WPI, Assumption, QCC, Fitchburg State, and Worcester State.
In an email sent out to the student body of Worcester State, it was shared that Becker students would be given the opportunity to enroll in the university in the Fall 2021 semester if they are currently enrolled and in good standing with the closing college. They will also have access to the newly formed Women’s Ice Hockey team.
When asked if he would be open to attending Worcester State University for his final year, Carr replied that he would absolutely consider it.
“Worcester State has a wider learning scale, more students and opportunities, and it actually gives the appearance of a great college experience,” he said.
As of right now, Bullock has no idea where he wants to attend in the fall, but doesn’t believe that he will end up at Worcester State, citing the athletic rivalry between WSU and Becker as the reason why.
There is no single word to describe the emotions that Becker College students are feeling during this time. Stressed, sad, and somber seem to be a common theme, and while this is the end of a chapter for many, this event has shown that when institutions can come together, they can really help people and ease a difficult transition and situation. In the future, these students will have the memories they’ve created and the relationships they have formed to remember their experience at their former college.