Members of Boston College’s staff serve as the heartbeat of this institution. Our community is incredibly fortunate to have this team of “Men and Women for Others,” tirelessly working to ensure the standard of living we have become so accustomed to on this campus. We hope to recognize their impact through their stories. This is Manuel Miranda’s story. Check out the others here.
Manuel Miranda, BC ‘92, has seen Boston College’s campus expand and its student body swell in his 32 years working, studying, and building a life on the Heights. Since working the graveyard housekeeping shift all those years ago, he estimates he’s seen an average of one building per year pop up.
But to start his story with Boston in 1986 doesn’t do it justice. Instead, you have to start 12 years earlier and 3,333 miles away, in Cape Verde, then a colony of Portugal. When a government coup threatened instability, the 18-year-old Miranda packed up his things and moved to Lisbon, Portugal, a remarkable decision at such a young age.
“I always was responsible. I think just like an old guy, that’s my nature. If I decide to do things I explore the ups and downs,” he said. “I always analyze things.”
After 16 months in Portugal, he decided to pack up his family and head to the United States. He landed in Boston and looked for jobs all over the place, ranging from the Stride Right shoe factory to Polaroid—which he was quick to point out used to be THE technology.
Eventually, he made his way to the Heights.
“I had a cousin that was working here. He told me that there are a lot of benefits if you are a BC employee,” Miranda said. “You can study at the location and your family, your daughter, your wife could also attend classes. That was one of the reasons that made me come work. I was taking classes at Bentley college so I transferred the credits to BC.”
During his first 15 years, he worked the third shift of housekeeping, which spanned from 11 at night to 7:30 the next morning.
“It was terrible. Back then it was hard, hard work. Rough environment back then,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep in the morning, in the daytime.”
Despite this, he worked hard to capitalize on the opportunity presented to him. From his arrival in 1986 until 1992, he fit in classes however he could, making progress on his finance degree slowly but surely.
“I had to work on the second shift so I could attend finance classes in the day. I’d sleep as much as I could, whenever I can,” said Miranda. “To study and work at the same time, especially when you’re married with two kids, is not an easy task. I had to do two classes per semester and then I had to go to summer school.”
During these early years he got to witness BC go under a great transformation.
“There was no Conte Forum, there was no Campanella Way, there was no Voute or Gabelli, there was no Vanderslice or 90,” he said.
Since then, he also had the pleasure of seeing his own daughter pass through the University, earning her degree in 1999 alongside the children of many of his fellow employees.
Eventually, he made the move from housekeeping to the mailroom, where he resides today. While there, he’s been able to connect with students in a way he never could before.
“If you are happy, then I’m happy. If you’re coming in, I’m frustrated if I can’t answer your question or I can’t find the thing you’re looking for or your package is not here.”
Looking back on his journey, he doesn’t see anything too exceptional about the life he chose to pursue. He admits the culture shock and language barrier were tough and requires great sacrifice, but overcoming them was also very natural for any immigrant.
“I got high regards with anyone who’s not American-born. They come in with one objective, to do the best they can to make sure that their daughter to their son do better,” he said. “I did the worst for them. I did the job I don’t want them to do. I sacrificed a life for them. That’s I think the human nature, you do the best for the next generation to do better.”
Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor