High School Assignment On Cemeteries Kickstarts Young Funeral Director’s Career
When I read articles like the one below it gives me hope for the future of the funeral profession. It’s exciting to see a young women so passionately pursuing a life of grief work.
Women making inroads into funeral business
Article from: enterprisenews.com
Terresa Shea found her career calling through an assignment on cemeteries during her junior year at Brockton High School.
Her brother told her his math teacher had family working at Conley Funeral & Cremation Services in Brockton who might be helpful so Shea contacted the funeral home.
“I went there and asked them my questions and found the field really interesting,” Shea said in a recent interview at the funeral home just after she had returned from a trip to the crematory.
Anne Conley Roan, president of the Belmont Street funeral home, saw her interest and asked Shea if she wanted to learn about the business firsthand.
“So she shadowed with us half of her senior year,” said Conley Roan.
Shea decided to apply to Mount Ida College for its two-year associate’s degree in funeral services.
“She is extraordinarily detail-oriented in her academic work,” said John Bresnahan, a professor at Mount Ida College and a certified funeral service practitioner who has had Shea as a student for three courses. “She is very thorough in her work and driven by the passion of funeral services.”
Bresnahan said women now make up 55-60 percent of students at mortuary science schools in the country because more fields are open to women than they were a generation or two ago.
Shea is expected to graduate from Mount Ida in May, holding memberships in Phi Theta Kappa, an international honor society, and Phi Sigma Eta, a national honor society for funeral service students.
“I never knew what I wanted to do after high school,” said Shea. “It kind of fell in my lap and I am so lucky.”
Since graduating from Brockton High School in 2011, Shea has been a licensed apprentice with the Conley Funeral Home for the last two years.
To get state licensing, an aspiring funeral director must have a degree in mortuary science and do an apprenticeship for two years. When degree work and the apprenticeship is completed, the person must take national and state exams to become a licensed funeral director or embalmer.
Maureen Shea, Terresa’s mother, said she and her husband were “kind of shocked” when told of their daughter’s career choice.
“We were most nervous because of her young age and if she would be able to handle it,” Maureen Shea said.
They worried she might see someone deceased her own age, or younger, and see the results of fatal traumatic injury.
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[Photo Credit: Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise]