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Leslie Regan: A legacy of care and compassion for generations

For those who point out Leslie Regan’s title to any alum of MIT’s mechanical engineering graduate program, their face will break right into a smile. For almost 5 many years, Regan’s variety, caring presence was a mainstay for hundreds of mechanical engineering college students. Now, after 47 years, Regan can replicate again on an impactful journey as she begins her retirement.

Regan joined MIT’s workers in September 1974. She began as an administrative assistant supporting three school members, together with Professor David Wormley. It was in that function that Regan first found her love of working with college students.

After Wormley turned division head in 1982, Regan joined him within the Division of Mechanical Engineering (MechE) headquarters. She spent 4 years working alongside Wormley, studying the ins and outs of the Institute’s insurance policies and procedures. In 1986, there was a gap for the tutorial administrator within the graduate workplace and Regan seized a chance to get again to the place she felt she belonged: working with college students.

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“My coronary heart was with the scholars. To me it was by no means actually a job, it was a lifetime mission. I actually cherished seeing them develop and serving to them if they’d points,” says Regan. As tutorial administrator, Regan helped numerous graduate college students navigate the often-tumultuous experiences of securing funding, passing qualifying exams, and ending their theses. For a lot of college students, particularly worldwide college students, she was a secure harbor removed from residence.

One such scholar was Shangzhi Wu SM ’81, MBA ’84, PhD ’85. Wu was the primary scholar from mainland China accepted into MIT after the Cultural Revolution. The week he was set to depart for Cambridge, Wu and his spouse rapidly acquired married in Beijing since there was a lot uncertainty about their visas. The marriage passed off in a civil workplace and not using a ceremony or reception. Two days later, Wu boarded a flight to Boston.

Over the following two years, Wu developed an in depth friendship with Regan. When his spouse lastly joined him in Cambridge, Regan organized the marriage occasion they by no means had. “When Leslie realized that we by no means had an official marriage ceremony ceremony, she organized a celebration with many mates at her home,” says Wu. “We actually appreciated Leslie’s friendship and kindness to prepare that in her home.”

From Regan’s perspective, she gained simply as a lot from her relationships with worldwide college students as they did from her.

“I simply really feel like we are able to make an affect regardless of the place we’re. Individuals would all the time ask me ‘Do you journey?’ And I say that I do. I journey everywhere in the nation and everywhere in the world via the eyes of our college students,” Regan says. “There’s no place I haven’t been. They arrive into MIT and I get to know their tradition.”

Because the years went on, Leslie turned an establishment inside MechE. She ushered the graduate program from a time when grasp’s and doctoral theses had been written on typewriters and copied on mimeographs, via to the digital age and the pandemic, which noticed college students defending their PhD theses on Zoom.

Through the years, her workplace on the primary ground of MIT’s Constructing 3 turned a shrine to the numerous college students she cared for, helped, and mentored through the years. The partitions had been adorned with mementos despatched from each nook of the world, and even past.

On one in all his journeys to the Worldwide House Station, alumnus and former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino SM ’88, PhD ’92 had the chance to deliver an merchandise to area as a present when he returned to Earth. He selected a T-shirt with MechE’s title on it in honor of the division’s — and by extension Leslie’s — affect on his life.

“Leslie made each one in all us really feel like household. I wished to fly one thing for the division particularly, and Leslie had loads to do with that as a result of the division took care of me. They educated me and gave me these nice alternatives,” says Massimino. “Lots of people come out and in of your life to make this stuff doable, and Leslie was one in all them.”

After many years of preserving the graduate workplace working, Regan is adjusting to the slower tempo of retirement. She has been cleansing and organizing bins and bins of keepsakes, together with dozens of cherished letters and emails from alumni. She additionally could be very lively in her church group and retains busy with volunteering.

When she displays on her profession at MIT, Regan solely has optimistic issues to say about every scholar she labored with.

“I by no means felt like this was a job. I felt that is actually the place I must be and I cherished each minute of it,” says Regan. “Some folks would say to me, ‘There have to be one scholar you didn’t like.’ And I’d say by no means, not one. Certain, their wants are completely different, however I cared for each single scholar who went via our program.”

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