Rite of Passage | BU Today

I have been working on a series for BU Today called “Rite of Passage.” I was interested in learning about students lives prior to coming to college. I remember back when I was getting ready to leave for college and what a difficult, exciting and tumultuous time it was for me- there were so many emotions surrounding that transition. As a mother of two young boys, I know it will be difficult time again when they go off to school (thankfully that’s a ways off) But I wanted to capture that time and hear from incoming freshmen and their parents what it is like for them.

For this particular essay, I met up with Abbey and her family in Cary, NC. Abbey is the daughter of a single mother who adopted five special needs children from Bulgaria. Abbey is helping her mother raise them while she also copes with her own medical condition. She relys on her service dog, Eevee and will be bringing her along to BU as well. I knew when I spoke to Abbey that this was going to be a tough transition all around- for her mother who will be left without Abbey’s assistance, for her siblings who finally found a family, and especially for Abbey who will have to find a new support system in Boston. Here are the photos and a link to the story in BU Today where you can see the cutlines.

Full story here : https://www.bu.edu/today/2016/rite-of-passage-abbey/


Abbey Janeira (CAS 20) hangs out with Eevee, her ESA alert dog, at their home in Cary, NC. Abbey has had to struggle with an illness that once it comes on, leaves her in severe pain and hospitalized for a week typically.

During her senior year of high school, she had to miss ten weeks of school. But she still managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA. After she spent a lot of time denying that there was anything wrong with her, and then blaming herself and others for her illness, she finally came to accept it. “The biggest thing that has come out of this is that my illness has made me more understanding of myself and others” she says. “Just because you can see someone doesn’t mean you can see what they’re going through.”

She’s lost friendships because of her illness as well and worries how people will treat her when she goes to college. “People get scared I’m going to get sick. They think I’m fragile. I don’t want to be that anymore. I don’t want to be known in Boston as the fragile girl with the service dog”

Abbey and her sister, Addison, 4, share a moment after daycare. Abbey says that she will miss the kids the most. “When I’m having a bad day and they come up to me and give me a hug, that can’t be replicated. No friend I make in college will make me feel better instantly like that. ”

Abbey gives her brother, Pierce, 5 his medicine at their home. She is planning to major in biology at BU with the hopes of one day becoming a pediatric surgeon so she can help children like her siblings. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor” she says. It wasn’t until they adopted her siblings though that her desire to become a surgeon emerged.

Abbey and her Mom discuss where to put the recycling during Move-In Day at Warren Towers. Noreen hopes that Abbey doesn’t become too overwhelmed with the academic rigors “I hope she embraces it all and that she finds a path that fulfills and energizes her” she says.

Abbey says one last goodbye to her brother, Matthew, 6, before they head out. Abbey has been an intergral part of her adopted siblings lives. “These are children who never had a family”, says her mother. “Now they have their Mommy and they have their Abbey. The impact of her leaving is huge.”

“You got this. I am proud of you” Abbey’s Mom tells her as she is getting ready to leave.
She says she knows that Abbey will OK. “She’s so capable but doesn’t realize how capable she is yet. I know she’s ready to go. I did my work”

Noreen signs “I love you” as she pulls away. “Watching her unfold is going to be awesome” she says. “I am super proud.”



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    Jackie Ricciardi is a wedding, editorial and corporate photographer, based in Boston, including Worcester. As a full-time photojournalist and photographer, Jackie is available for travel throughout Massachusetts and the Northeast.