By Alice Roche Cody
For Bill Conlan ’16, the coronavirus pandemic threw many unpredictable turns, forcing him to pivot and mark significant milestones in unexpected ways. In early March, he never imagined he’d finish his semester at Boston College online and start an exciting new job – all from his Chatham, NJ, home. Bill credits his time at Gill St. Bernard’s for giving him the tools to be resilient and adaptable.
In ninth grade, when Bill came to Gill from Chatham Middle School, he found the smaller classes more demanding. His transition proved challenging at first, both academically and socially, but he soon felt comfortable within the campus’ supportive environment.
“I learned how to balance a lot of competing things, like how to talk to teachers and how to interact and meet new people,” he said. “A lot of pieces were being assembled, and it all came together.”
His honors physics class forced him to apply himself more. “Mr. Bostian gave me a wake-up call to my potential as student – it was like a slap across the head,” he said. “With this academic awareness, I got it together. I told myself, ‘You can do this.’ It was a grounding experience that set me up for future success.”
Also during his first year, Bill joined choir and made varsity tennis. He served as captain his junior and senior years, earning the coveted first spot both seasons. “Tennis was a grind, with practices and matches until 8 pm at times, but I learned to work together with my teammates,” he said. “I like to win, and as captain, people watched my work ethic. What I did inspired people around me. Being professional and rooting people on, the camaraderie of cheering for people on different courts. I loved making these connections. Gill is the first place I had that.”
Even though Bill didn’t get selected for the play his first year, he went on to perform in five Gill theatre productions, solidifying his friend group along the way.
Bill believes Gill’s emphasis on the whole student contributed to his easy college transition. He performed in two plays as a first-year, and met some of his closest friends. “Gill was grounding, and I started to know who I was,” he said. “In college, I loved meeting new people and being social, because Gill taught me how to be myself, inside and outside the classroom.”
Academically, the rigor of GSB more than prepared him to thrive in the honors program at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. “Gill taught me to pursue classes I liked; I always took electives to grow my knowledge,” he said. “I love history, and Gill has amazing teachers. My microeconomics course is why I majored in business in college.”
Before the pandemic forced Bill to leave Boston and complete his college coursework remotely, he’d already accepted an offer with the Ohio-based Newry Corporation, a management consulting firm that helps technology-driven companies be successful. Even though he’s working from New Jersey for now, he’s excited to move to the Buckeye State next fall, when he’ll finally meet his colleagues in-person. In his free time, he has enjoyed networking and reconnecting with his high school friends.
“I loved the communities at Gill, you can’t build an artificial sense of community,” he said. “I have pride in my school. There’s a respect that underlies intellectual curiosity and encourages working together. It’s unique to Gill, and it allowed me to be my best.