Nichols College News

Two Alumni Receive 40 Under 40 Award

Two Nichols graduates have been recognized by the Worcester Business Journal for achieving extraordinary careers before the age of 40. Debra Minor ’03 and John Peculis ’01 are among 40 Worcester-area entrepreneurs and business leaders chosen by the magazine in its annual “40 Under 40” awards program.

Minor is the vice president and credit manager for the Clinton Savings Bank in Clinton, Massachusetts. Peculis serves as the president and chief appraiser for Worcester-based Allied Appraisal Associates of NE, Inc.

In a ceremony co-sponsored by Nichols and held earlier this fall, President Susan West Engelkemeyer delivered an address praising the multi-faceted accomplishments of the 40 young adults singled out for the occasion.

“The women and men we recognize tonight have diverse backgrounds and come from all sectors—from non-profit to entrepreneurial to corporate,” Engelkemeyer observed. “All have achieved success and exhibited outstanding leadership, and, just as significant, all give back to their communities.”

In the catalogue created by the WBJ for the 40 Under 40 program, both Nichols honorees point to their time at the College as an important ingredient in their career development.

“One of my most personally gratifying accomplishments was graduating from Nichols summa cum laude and then earning my master's in accounting and finance with honors,” Minor writes.

Minor underscores the unconventional path she followed to her Nichols degrees. “Choosing a non-traditional plan to continue education first at night and then online, while working full time, was amazingly more difficult than anticipated,” she points out.

“The prolonged time frame of seven years to earn a bachelor's degree and another four years to earn a master's degree seemed an eternity.”

Peculis, meanwhile, counts his experience with Nichols after graduating—particularly returning to campus to speak to students about what it takes to succeed in business—as one of his most satisfying career accomplishments.

“His real world experience has been invaluable to our undergraduates,” Engelkemeyer said of Peculis’s visits to campus.

Emeritus Management Professor Richard Hilliard, who taught and advised Peculis during his undergraduate career, says that Peculis has proved a lifelong learner. “After graduating, he would take a job and learn everything he could and then move onto another job, sometimes for less money, but for the opportunity to learn even more,” Hilliard recalls.

That continuing education, Hilliard adds, provided a foundation for Peculis to become a successful entrepreneur. “He knows how to plan, organize, and lead, and if things aren’t working out, he’ll know it and adjust,” Hilliard says.

In his free time, Peculis serves on the Zoning Board of Appeals for the town of Charlton, Massachusetts, where he lives, and volunteers for a local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.

Minor participates in the Nashoba Chamber of Commerce and works with several non-profit organizations that provide Christmas gifts to underprivileged children and meals to families in need.