Jean Cremins, Professor of Science

My name is Jean Cremins and I am a Professor in the Science Department at Photo of Jean CreminsMiddlesex in Lowell. I was the first in my family to complete a bachelor’s degree (a Master’s, and a Ph. D.). My dad was the first and only one out of 8 children to attend high school. I found inspiration from my father’s work ethic. I also saw that you did not have to be a reflection of your peers or environment. My dad said that during the depression everyone was hungry so attending school was a luxury and his siblings had to go out and try to provide for the family in any way they could.  He and 6 of his brothers were fortunate to eventually find jobs on the fire department. My dad saw his education as a gift that he should use to not only to make a better life for his family, but to improve his community. He had great ideas and in order to implement them he had to rise in the ranks. He studied for the fire exams every free moment after work, year after year in our sweltering (in summer) or freezing (no heat in winter) attic. Indeed, he was eventually appointed chief of the fire department.

I am the youngest of 4 children. The 3 oldest had not gone to college.  But I was blessed with the opportunity (similar to my dad).  I attended the cheapest school I got into (Emmanuel in Boston) and worked part time throughout those 4 years. A good GP A and recommendations opened the way for a summer research fellowship at Harvard Medical School. This turned into a job during the school year after the fellowship ended. A chemistry professor told me I should not stop at a bachelor’s degree and said I should pursue further degrees. I really had no concept of anything beyond a bachelor’s degree as no one in my neighborhood even had a bachelor’s! I am forever grateful to this professor and followed the advice. I attended Tufts for my Master’s degree in biochemistry (tuition free and a stipend for living expenses). Then my interest in Neuroscience led me to New York for a Ph. D. Again my GPA and recommendations from professors and employers led to a tuition free, stipend-supported position. 

My motivation all along was not really a “career”; it was to have full, interesting life, to realize my potential and hopefully contribute to society as did my dad.

After I completed my degrees, my older sister went to college! (We were always a little competitiveJ .) She was a single mom with 3 kids who worked full time! I now am proud to say that of all the kids, grandkids and great grand kids in the family (my sister is a great grandmother!), my son is the first of his generation in the family to have completed college this past May.  So although you may think you are going to school to benefit yourself, you never know how many others see what you are doing and say, “I can do that too!”.


Last Modified: 6/5/23