I just returned from kayaking on Mallett's Bay in Colchester, about 5 miles from campus. Kayaking for me, is always a great time for either relaxation and contemplation OR vigorous exercise, depending on the wind and the waves. Today was a combination of both. As I was kayaking and realizing that classes begin in just a couple of weeks I was thinking about how excited I get at the start of every new semester. We have all worked over the summer on our courses, our syllabi and as I talk with my faculty colleagues, I find that they are as excited as I am for new beginnings. Over the past couple of weeks I have had the chance to talk with several of my former students and while one can always HOPE that they actually do listen and learn in class, these conversations have been very reinforcing for what we do. Alex Higgins ('11) and Ryan Nest ('10) are both working at a camp for adolescents with behavioral and/or developmental difficulties. This has been an intense 8 week camp and I spoke with Ryan over the weekend - as he described some of the activities that both he and Alex have been involved with I asked him how his SMC psychology major has helped him - I was somewhat surprised because he said that there were times when he wanted to literally "jump off a three story building" but then he said that he remembered one of my classes when I had told them "there isn't anything that you can't learn to deal with" and he kept that in mind and was able not only to have an amazingly educational experience but he has received great feedback from his supervisors. Last Friday I had lunch with Corinne O'Connor who graduated in 2004 - she was up for Zack Cook and Molly Lydon's wedding and wanted to get together with Fr. Mike and Jennie and me - she is working for AT&T out of Buffalo and loves her job - Mark Cernosia ('04) joined us too and we all caught up on what was going on in her life and what was happening on campus. Colleen was a student leader here, actively involved with the Student Association and now she is putting those leadership skills to work in her position in management with a major corporation. On Sunday night I received a call from Craig Farnum ('99) - Craig is the lead counselor at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno, Nevada and is taking his comprehensive examinations yesterday, today and tomorrow for his doctorate at the University of Nevada, Reno. As he discussed some of the possible questions he was going to be asked over the three day examination, he commented that whenever he gets a question asking him to "compare and contrast" things he thinks back to my class in Abnormal Psychology because I was always asking my students to do the same thing - he said that this has helped him study and prepare for these exams. Once again, the rewards of teaching............
I head to Otis, MA for some time with my family before the Orientation Leaders, Resident Assistants and finally new students arrive the week of the 22nd - I will be doing some workshops with the Orientation Leaders and then after the "formal" orientation of our new students ends on Sunday the 29th I will be working with members of the Athletic Department and several of our upper-class student-athletes on the New Student-Athlete Orientation. There are approx. 170 new student athletes in our entering class and the Athletic Department has been working hard to create a balanced orientation that will provide great role models for our new athletes - there will be student led panels on Academic Expectations (this will be where I will speak), Social Expectations and Athletic Expectations. I congratulate the members of our Athletic Department for their foresight in designing this series of workshop and appreciate our upper-level student-athletes willingness to work along with us to make the whole experience of our new students a healthy and collaborative one.
Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers. We have lost way too many men and women in the War In Iraq and now as our combat forces leave there and we begin more tough work in Afghanistan, they need our thoughts and prayers more than ever.