We sat down with Oli’s Director of Marketing and Development Brendan Bigos to learn about what led him to work with teens, and what he loves about Oli.
Maine native Brendan Bigos joined the Oliverian family at the beginning of this school year as our Director of Marketing and Development. Prior to joining Oli, Brendan served as Assistant Dean of Students at Hyde School in Bath, Maine, and later spent six years working as the student life director at College Excel in Bend, Oregon.
Brendan’s role as Director of Marketing and Development consists of two main components: welcoming students who visit Oli, and working with consultants and schools in the New England area to spread the word about Oliverian. When he isn’t working, Brendan lives in Nashua, NH, loves to spend time with his fiancé and two dogs, and enjoys reading and practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your journey to Oliverian?
A: When I got out of college, I one hundred percent thought I was going to coach college lacrosse. That’s what I’d done when I was in college. I found my way to a school where a friend of mine was the assistant head, and I thought I was going to do some lacrosse coaching there for a season and then move on with my life. It was a non-traditional school like Oliverian, and I went there and fell in love with working with those kids.
I’d had a lot of good coaches through my playing career, and people have been good mentors to me, so I thought that was a natural kind of continuation for me. But when I started working with kids, I saw that there was a different way to work with people — not just on a field, but in a much broader context in their lives. I thought that was much more interesting. I ended up staying at the school for six years, and went from being an intern to an administrator by the time I left. It was very rewarding to work with kids; it was great to watch them go through a change, make better choices, and then even go on to college. It was a very fulfilling, I don’t think I could’ve gotten that from just coaching a sport.
Q: How did the opportunity to work at Oliverian arise?
A: I first heard about Oliverian when I was working out west, and when I was I moved back east about a year ago and was looking around for jobs, Oli was looking to grow the admissions team. I ended up calling a couple of consultants that I know to get their impressions of the school, and they had very favorable things to say. So I sent my resume in, and then I came up for graduation right after my first interview. I ended up sitting down with Barclay, Will, Abby, and Julie right after graduation, and just saw a really wonderful, inclusive community.
When I left graduation, I felt like I could see myself working at Oli. I liked the way that people were interacting with the students. At the old school where I first started teaching, at graduation, there would be kids would waiting in their cars, revving the engines to get out of there. And when I was visiting Oliverian, kids were hanging around; it looked like students didn’t really want to leave, like this is their home. That was the big thing that I got walking away from it: this is a home and a family for these kids.
I also really liked the freedom the students are given here, with support that will step in when it’s needed. Because I think that when you put kids in a really rigorously structured environment, and they have to go somewhere like college, if they haven’t been able to test those boundaries and test their freedom, they can run into a lot of issues when they’re on their own.
Q: What would you want a parent to know about sending their child to a school like Oli?
A: I think the one thing that I would want them to understand is the sheer dedication and the level of care that our faculty have for the students. From check-ins every day throughout the day to the dedicated teams we have in place to support each student — you’re not going to get that in a lot of other places. In a lot of places, when you go back to your dorms or you get out of the classroom, the culture and the care wane. At Oliverian, the dorm culture is just as important as the classroom culture.
Q: What are your interactions with students like when you hang out on campus?
A: Honestly, having meals with students is probably hands-down my favorite part of my job. I get to sit down, see what they’re working on, what they’re going over in class. A lot of the conversations that come out of those interactions are really rewarding. I love to see what their perspective is on the world they’re growing up in, because it’s very different than the one I grew up in.