There is one key fact that one must realize when taking in the graduation at the South End’s Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology (BFIT) – and that fact is that most every student walking across the stage is the first in his or her family to do so.
This Saturday, 149 students will graduate from 111th class in the BFIT’s auditorium at the South End campus, with all of them having inspiring stories that include completely changing the trajectory of their lives and their family’s lives.
No one more resembles that than Regis Lino-Kelly – who will graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering technology. Lino-Kelly will be the student speaker – standing alongside new Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who is the keynote speaker.
According to BFIT staffers, Lino-Kelly showed up with a purpose when he arrived on campus in 2014. Now, having been already hired by the 3M company in Rockland, he is ready to embark on that purpose – which first and foremost is buying a home for he and his family.
“My goal is to purchase a home for my family in the next year or two,” he said. “Preferably, we’ll buy in Boston. I want our family to have somewhere stable that we can call our own. I think that should be everyone’s goal to have a property they can call their own.”
Shawn Ayala, director of Student Success at BFIT and the advisor to Lino-Kelly, said he has been very inspired by the young man.
“Regis is an awesome guy, but really, he is a perfect example of how BFIT transforms students’ lives,” he said. “Regis is a first generation college student. These students overcome so much adversity but are able to enroll and break barriers and graduate. That degree allows them to change their lives and the lives of their family and set them up for a new trajectory in life. Regis is one example of so many of our students. They fight through it because they know it will change their lives.”
Lino-Kelly – who is the son of Justo Lino and Norda Kelly – said he has wanted to be a mechanical engineer since he was very little, having been inspired by the superhero Iron Man.
“I’ve always been interested in mechanical engineering since I was a little kid,” he said. “One of my favorite shows and superheroes was Iron Man. He was a mechanical engineer and an engineer all around. That really attracted me. I looked it up and after that day I always wanted to be an engineer.”
Now, having put the books away, Lino-Kelly will celebrate his final day in school on Saturday, and then report to work. There, he said he will fix machines when the break, and try to anticipate weak points in the machines before they break.
“It takes a lot of thinking ahead and planning,” he said.
That seems to be something he has a good grip on already.
BFIT is one of New England’s oldest colleges of technology, started with a bequest from Benjamin Franklin and a gift from Andrew Carnegie.