Same Road, Different Paths | Regis Today | Summer 2021

From Pride Guides together to independent career paths, sisters balance academic and professional demands with a holistic approach to life.

Story by Patricia Murray DiBona ’84

Talking to Jennifer Amaral ’16 and Rachel Amaral ’19, ’21, it’s hard to believe the two affable and articulate sisters once considered themselves shy. The Amarals—who both maintained 4.0 GPAs while double majoring at Regis—are an outspoken force today. Jennifer, 27, a practicing attorney, and Rachel, 24, pursuing a graduate degree in counseling psychology at Regis, say their college years taught them to speak their truths for the good of others.


As a recipient of the full-tuition Presidential Catholic Schools Scholarship, Jennifer, who was class valedictorian says, “I wanted to give back to Regis for taking a chance on me.”

She was a Pride Guide as a first-year student, giving campus tours to prospective students. “I was terrified of public speaking,” she says. “But I ended up being surprisingly good at it. When you’re passionate about something, it shines through.”

The Presidential Scholarship was also a primary reason for Rachel choosing Regis. She was initially hesitant to attend. “I was worried I’d have trouble carving out my own life,” Rachel explains, recalling a professor’s exclamation early on: “You’re an Amaral? You have big shoes to fill!”I was terrified of public speaking. But I ended up being surprisingly good at it. When you’re passionate about something, it shines through.Jennifer Amaral

Pushing aside misgivings, Rachel followed her sister’s lead and joined Pride Guides as a way to pay it forward and step outside her comfort zone. With Jennifer and former Regis staffer James Guaragna ’11, ’13 as mentors, Rachel grew in confidence. “I began to embrace Regis’ small size and appreciate the close-knit community.”


In addition to a sense of gratitude, the Amarals brought a strong work ethic to Regis. 

“Our parents never had the chance to go to college and wanted more for us. They knew education was the key to success, so they insisted academics came first at home. No TV, no computers, and no sports until homework was done. We became “to-do” list people, writing schedules in our little Hallmark calendars,” recalls Jennifer with a laugh.

The sisters admit they still adhere to a no-procrastination philosophy. “Get the work done and you’ll have time to play,” advises Jennifer, who served as student government class president at Regis.

The Amaral sisters are the first generation in their extended family to receive a college education. Their parents emigrated as children from Portugal to the United States. 

“Our dad started working in landscaping and snow removal at 15 and made his way up to operations. Mom has been with UBS Financial for 30 years,” says Jennifer. While their parents worked multiple jobs, Jennifer and Rachel were cared for by their grandparents. “We were surrounded by Portuguese culture—the language, the food, the music. It’s a big part of our identity.”

Rachel wrote her college admissions essay about her family’s immigration story. She says the difference between her life in America and that of her Azorean cousins is stark. “They left school to work the family farm. It’s a poor and quiet life with little opportunity for growth.”



When it came time to choose majors at Regis, Jennifer and Rachel opted for business management degrees. 

“It was ingrained in us as little girls that women need to be financially independent and a business degree seemed to offer the most lucrative job opportunities,” says Rachel, who added a second major in communication while Jennifer graduated with another major in law and government. The sisters were active members of the Business Association—Jennifer helped form the group and Rachel later served as co-president.

Rachel credits Assistant Professor of Global Business Management Charlene Geary, PhD, with teaching her to think critically. “There are two types of learning: memorizing and regurgitating and thinking things through. Professor Geary pushed and challenged me. She gave me extra support when I needed it.” 

I got my bachelor’s degree in May and started grad school two weeks later. It’s intense and I love every minute of it. Rachel AmaralRachel says her relationships with college professors such as Colleen Malachowski, PhD, associate professor of communication and Carole Remick Endowed Director, sustained her during difficult times. “It’s hard being a college student. I appreciated that I could drop into Professor Malachowski’s office to discuss classwork and get life advice.”  

When Jennifer began leaning toward a law degree after college, she turned to John Christie, PhD, associate professor of management and economics and chair of the Department of Business Management. “Professor Christie had personal experience as a law student. I relied on his guidance when I started applying to law schools.”



Internships gave the Amaral women the chance to explore career options. They approached the job search with gusto—and strategy. “I submitted dozens of résumés and cover letters and always circled back. I was persistent but professional,” says Rachel, who landed multiple internships. She worked for a marketing agency and an executive search firm, for the offices of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and as a social media intern for a nonprofit health care organization.

Often, she and Jennifer held down several internships simultaneously. Jennifer described one of these busy weeks: “I’d work two days at UBS Financial, two days with the Office of Senate President Therese Murray at the State House, and one at a local law firm.” She says that particular summer was demanding but helpful. “I got a taste of the business and law worlds. It solidified my decision to pursue law.”  



After taking the LSATs and applying to law schools, Jennifer chose Suffolk University Law School. She started in August 2016 and found herself challenged to new heights. 

“Law school is not for the faint of heart,” says Jennifer of her three-year experience. She served as a legal intern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office and as a judicial intern for the Honorable Marianne B. Bowler ’67. 

“I learned so much working with Judge Bowler,” she says, noting Bowler’s role in the Boston Marathon bomber and Whitey Bulger cases. 

Jennifer held law clerk positions for the City of Boston and a Boston law firm. After receiving her juris doctor degree, she worked in varied areas of the law while actively networking with legal colleagues. Her experience in pharmaceutical law led Jennifer to her current path in the health care field. “Law is fluid and you’re always developing and honing skills, so I’m not sure where I’ll end up in the future,” she says.

For Rachel, senior year brought deep reflection as she questioned her career trajectory. “I was burned out and felt lost and disengaged. Despite all of my internships, I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I was so focused on the perfect résumé and being the perfect student that my path was lit for me rather than me lighting my own path.”

Years of coping with her own anxiety through therapy, coupled with her affinity for helping people, drew Rachel to Regis’ master’s program in counseling psychology. After discussion with Karen Miranda, director of graduate counseling programs, and with support from her family, Rachel applied and was accepted into the program.

“I got my bachelor’s degree in May and started grad school two weeks later. It’s intense and I love every minute of it,” says Rachel, who completed a one-year counseling internship with Housing Families in Malden, Massachusetts.

Though she’s headed in a new direction, Rachel says she doesn’t regret her undergraduate journey. “I’ll use my communication skills
to talk with clients and my business skills if I set up a private practice,” she affirms. For now, Rachel is enjoying graduate school and working as a graduate assistant for the Institutional Review Board to offset tuition under the supervision of Malachowski. “She has been my mentor throughout my undergraduate and graduate years and deserves a shoutout for making my Regis experience so worthwhile,” Rachel says. 



Despite their hectic lives, the Amaral sisters find time to care for others. They are longtime volunteers at the Perkins School for the Blind and the Bread of Life Food Pantry. At Regis, Rachel tutored children at Bethany Hill Place while Jennifer attended a mission trip to Jamestown, Mississippi, with Campus Ministry and Service. The recipient of Suffolk Law’s Pro Bono Service Award, Jennifer recently provided free legal aid in a Department of Children and Families case. “I’m a big proponent of pro bono legal services for people who can’t afford them,” she says.

To minimize stress and to maximize wellness in their own lives, Jennifer and Rachel practice self-care. They exercise, meditate, enjoy music and books, and eat well. Mental health advocate and budding therapist Rachel says she’s come full circle and looks forward to supporting people with mental health concerns—just as she received help in the past. And she wouldn’t change a thing about her Regis journey. “As long as I’m fueled by passion, I’m on the right path.”


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