Set against the turbulent political backdrop of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Pat Tobin's time at Emmanuel was enriched by classmates and faculty who were both bold and benevolent. These friendships and mentorships, along with the mission and vision of the Sisters of Notre Dame, guided Tobin's journey at the College and throughout her life.
Originally from Concord, MA, Tobin graduated from a high school class of just 35 students and looked forward to gaining life and work experience in the "big city," just like her sister, Muffie McKenna FitzPatrick '66.
"It was such an interesting time to be in college," Tobin says. "There was the Vietnam War, the bombing of Cambodia. Students were protesting, marching in the streets, wearing armbands to class."
Their desire to effect change also found its place on campus, with students protesting what they felt were overly strict rules set by the administration. Resident students wanted to determine their own curfews, and all students, particularly commuters braving Boston winters, wanted permission to wear pants to class. In a culmination of their efforts to have a greater voice in college governance, a Student Bill of Rights passed in 1972-just one instance in the long history of tenacious Emmanuel College women.
"I can't imagine how different my life would have been if I hadn't come to Emmanuel," she says. "I came out thinking, 'I can do anything because I go to this school where women run the show. She recalls that Emmanuel President Sister Janet Eisner, SND, was the director of admissions when she was an incoming student. "I've known her my entire relationship with Emmanuel, and that means a lot," she says.
After she graduated, Tobin, a history major, went to work in the Harvard University Archives, and shortly after that, Xerox Corporation. "I started at Xerox in February of 1973 and retired 39 years later. I had a very successful career, and for that I give a lot of credit to Emmanuel," she says.
Tobin recently joined Emmanuel's Heritage Society with a $250,000 legacy gift to the College. "Among other things, I hope this gift can help someone attend Emmanuel who otherwise might not be able to go," she says. "I didn't have to pay back a penny of my Emmanuel education, and I have always felt very fortunate. If you have big aspirations, you should never be limited by money."
Tobin also cites her faith as a factor in her gift. "I've always had a passion for service and social justice. My Catholic faith and Emmanuel College, the Sisters of Notre Dame in particular, taught me that I have a responsibility to help other people."
She further hopes that her support encourages alumni of any age to consider making a planned gift and invest in future generations of Emmanuel students.
"I read everything I get in the mail," she says. "From the quality of students and programs to the focus on internships, I find what Emmanuel is doing and how it is growing really inspiring. Students are aspiring to careers we didn't even know were possible in my day."
Tobin stays connected to her alma mater by visiting campus as often as she can. She has missed just one Alumni Weekend, and celebrated her 45th reunion in 2017. "I stayed in the residence hall with my old roommate and lifelong best friend, as usual," she says. "Just like old times."