The following staff profile appeared in a recent issue of the School of Engineering newsletter, The Infinite.
I am an Academic Program Manager with the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST).
Patty Cunningham joined the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) as a junior in college. Her retirement at the end of March will mark more than four decades with the program.
What began as a job to work her way through college — Patty was a pre-med student turned English major — evolved into a decades-long career. Patty joined HST in 1981 as an accounting and office assistant. “I applied, got the job, and basically never left,” she said.
When she joined HST, Patty was studying at Boston University and had her sights set on a career in the publishing industry. But HST’s welcoming atmosphere and a well-timed job opportunity convinced Patty to stick around.
About a decade into her work at the program she moved into her current role as Academic Program Manager, a more student-facing position. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the HST office at Harvard Medical School and manages a staff of five people. The team handles HST’s MD track at Harvard Medical School, making everything run smoothly for the 190 MD students in the program plus the medical engineering and medical physics PhD students who take courses in that program.
Over the years, Patty grew as HST did. In her early days she was around the same age as the program’s PhD students, and joined them on the HST softball league. Her first husband was a member of the MIT staff. After he passed away after a battle with cancer, Patty married her current husband, Sam, who was an anatomy instructor at the medical school. After Patty retires, the couple of 23 years plan to tackle their “honey-do” list, vacationing in Maine and gardening in their community plot in Dorchester. Patty also hopes to reconnect with a love of reading that stretches back to her time in college studying literature.
“I do a lot of reading of magazines and online papers … but not as many novels. And I really look forward to that,” she said. “I have them all stacked up, ready to go.”
* Originally published in the School of Engineering newsletter, The Infinite, and on the MIT intranet.