Catherine DeMaggio receiving a Mack I. Davis Award from Lisa Van Vleck, Director of Corporate Programs for CSV
Cathy DeMaggio’s career as a NetPals coordinator has mirrored her 31-year career at Cambridge Systematics (CS), where she has repeatedly undertaken new challenges. Cathy began work at CS in 1983. CS later moved to Alewife, where Cathy took on a management position and then transitioned to her current role as Database Administrator and trainer.
When Cathy took over NetPals a decade ago, there were 30 Peabody School sixth graders matched with mentors, all from CS. Cathy got involved because she believes it is important for students to improve their writing and communication skills and interact with adults in a professional setting. She notes that NetPals exposes students to how many career opportunities exist within one company alone.
Student numbers grew over the years. With the creation of the Rindge Avenue Upper School (RAUS), the NetPals program expanded to match more than 80 seventh graders with mentors from three companies. Cathy now recruits 40 NetPals annually, often going door-to-door in the office to get the last few.
At the welcome lunch, a beloved tradition initiated by Cathy, students and adults take over the entire Bertucci’s restaurant. In 2004, Cathy also inaugurated the annual math breakfast at the suggestion of teacher Elsie Murphy. The tradition continues at RAUS.
RAUS seventh grade science teacher Jay Mahoney praises Cathy’s commitment: “I can’t imagine how many extra hours she puts in, but I am thankful that my school has such an inspirational and dedicated person working on our behalf.”
Cathy sets an example by being a NetPal herself, a role she relishes. One year, she didn’t think she was making a difference in her NetPal Nathan’s life, only to have him write in his farewell email: “I want to say a big THANK YOU because I have enjoyed every minute of writing to you from the first letter to the last. I have had the best computer fun I have had in my life.” Six years later, Cathy met Nathan again at the 2011 Mack Davis awards celebration, sharing a laugh together.
Another student’s words capture Cathy’s gifts: “This was the best year a girl could ask for. It was even better having a committed, nice, and caring NetPal, and I couldn’t ask for a better one. You have been so encouraging and I appreciate it… I promise that I will never, ever forget you or this experience. I feel like I’ve grown as a person because of you and your helpful advice.”
Cathy does all this while also volunteering in at least two other organizations in her free time, a food pantry and an after-school program. We applaud Cathy for making our community a better place for young people.