Heather Theberge, an administrative assistant in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering’s undergraduate office, died on Jan. 3 after a brief battle with cancer. She was 42 years old.
“This is a heartbreaking loss for our community. Heather greeted everyone who visited our undergraduate office with incredible kindness and was beloved by her colleagues,” says Evelyn Wang, professor of mechanical engineering and department head.
Theberge joined MIT in 2012. In her role as administrative assistant, she was instrumental in ensuring that the mechanical engineering undergraduate program ran smoothly. Her caring nature was evident to the many students, staff, and faculty who got to know her over the years.
“Heather was such a genuinely warm person. She was always happy to help anyone who walked into the undergraduate office,” says Jared Embelton, academic administrator for the mechanical engineering undergraduate program.
For nearly a decade, Theberge helped countless mechanical engineering students pursue their bachelor’s degrees. From organizing first-year advising efforts, to helping students as they embarked on study abroad programs, to handling all logistics for seniors writing a thesis, Theberge assisted students from the beginning of their academic careers through graduation.
Theberge’s calming presence also offered students a respite from the stress of their academics. Students would occasionally sit by her desk to quietly complete problem sets or swing by to grab candy and catch up with Theberge and her colleague Ellen Parilla, senior administrative assistant.
“You could tell students thought so highly of Heather,” adds Embelton. “She had such a friendly energy that created a truly welcoming environment for them.”
Theberge grew up in southern New Hampshire, and pursued her passion for art at the Massachusetts College of Art, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She is survived by her longtime boyfriend Daniel Casey, her sisters Marianne and Michele, her niece Lauren, and her nephew Dominic.
Those wishing to honor Theberge and her love of animals are invited to make a donation in her name to the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire, 545 Route 101, Bedford, NH 03110, or at rescueleague.org.