LEGAL BATTLER: Rosa Colon wanted to be a lawyer, and neither a horrific car crash in 2000 nor a litany of health and personal problems that followed could deter her from her dream.
In her wheelchair, the 43-year-old Milton woman received her law degree on May 30 from the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, after a series of setbacks that she said she could not have overcome without the assistance of her mother, Rosa Maria Colon, whom she called “my angel from heaven.”
On April 1, 2000, as Colon was driving to law school, her car ran into a guard rail after a blow-out on Route 93 in Andover and flipped over. The injuries left her a paraplegic, and she intended to take a year off from school to recover.
But that plan was thwarted by health complications, including falling out of a chair and fracturing a femur that left her in a body cast, and a couple of years later suffering a collapsed lung that put her in a coma for 2½ days. Along the way, she married her high school sweetheart, but divorced six years later, in what she called “another trying moment.”
Throughout, her mother backed her, she said. And two years ago, when Rosa Colon returned to school, it was her mother, a human resources and contracts manager for La Alianza Hispana in Roxbury, who drove her there two or three days a week, waiting in the cafeteria for her daughter to finish her classes, and driving her home after.
“I’d convinced her I could drive myself, but she was afraid,” Colon said. “She made arrangements from work so she could do it — she was very loyal to my dream. She became part of the Massachusetts School of Law family; they all knew her, she’d wait in the cafeteria, bringing along her work to do. My mom is the strongest woman I know.”
At one point during those two years, her mother fell down stairs and injured her hand.
“With a cast on, she’d still go with me,” Colon said. “She would not let me go alone.”
Colon said it was with “my mother’s enduring love and support that I finally reached the finish line.”
She also gives much credit to her law school professors, particularly dean Michael Coyne, “who gave me red-carpet treatment, anything I needed, he got for me. They knew me when I was walking, and when I went back, they opened doors to whatever I needed, I cannot say enough about the school.”
Colon also earned a dean’s award for her perseverance and overcoming obstacles, at the school’s annual law day weekend.
Colon lives in Milton with her twin sister, Maria Angelica Colon Brown, and her sister’s husband, Ronald Guy Brown Jr., who sold their house in Norwood to move in with her.
Rosa Colon is working as an assistant clerk magistrate in the West Roxbury division of Boston Municipal Court. With her new law degree, her goal is to become a judge.
“There are not many Latino judges,” she said. “I would like to make a difference. I think I am, as clerk magistrate, and want to do more. I want to change people’s lives. I’m going to persevere and fight for that.”
If she’s not busy enough, Colon has also set her sights on becoming Miss Wheelchair America 2014.
“That’s my next project,” she said of the nonprofit that advocates for and recognizes the accomplishments of women who use wheelchairs. “They give voice to those with disabilities.”
HALIFAX NATIVE HEADLINING JAZZ FEST: Halifax native Dino Govoni knows jazz. The sax player, who also teaches at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Berklee College of Music, said there weren’t many jazz gigs to play on the South Shore when he was coming up.
So he’s happy to be headlining an event south of Boston: He and many other local musicians will play at the 2d Annual New Bedford Jazz Fest June 15, from 2 to 7 p.m. on Pier 3 of the city’s waterfront. Govoni will play with both the Horseneck Trio and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth All Stars.
“It’s kind of exciting to be the headliner,” said Govoni, 51, who has toured with Randy Brecker, the Manhattan Transfer, Arturo Sandoval, the Boston Pops, and Frankie Valli. “I always thought there was a really strong musical community down there and I’m excited to be part of it.”
Leading the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Latin Jazz Ensemble will be director Chris Poudrier, a Brockton native now living in Lakeville. Also performing will be the Southcoast Jazz Orchestra, whose core hails from the area, including Robert Williamson on trumpet, and his wife, Christine Williamson, on tenor sax, both of Mattapoisett; Phil Sanborn on trombone, and his wife, Karen Sanborn, on baritone sax, both of Marion; David Gries of Mattapoisett; and Travis Bliss of Mattapoisett, a New England Conservatory jazz student who recently played at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, Calif.
“There are always great players coming out of the area,” said Govoni, who played a lot as a young musician in Plymouth. “I feel honored to be the headliner.”
Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. The event is the major fund-raiser for the nonprofit Your Theatre in New Bedford. For tickets and information, visit www.newbedfordjazzfest.com, or call 508-993-0772.
BUSINESS BRIEFS: James E. Moniz of Hanover, a financial consultant with Northeast Wealth Management in Braintree, was inducted into the John Hancock Financial Network Hall of Fame, which began in 1956 and has inducted 201 members. The main criterion for inclusion is earning the annual Achieving Client Excellence award 15 times over the course of a career; Moniz earned his 15th last year.
Nancy Van Lenten of Halifax has joined New England Mortgage Professionals. She has more than 15 years of experience in the industry, including posts as a loan officer for Relocation Resources and Conway Financial Services in Norwell, and assistant sales manager and loan officer for Bridgewater Credit Union.