Friday, September 24, 2010

Follow-up on last weekend's Reunion - classes are great.

(Alex Higgins, Tully LaBelle-Hammer, Dave Vorozilchak - atop Prospect Rock in Johnson, VT)

I posted a new blog after the hall of Fame dinner last Saturday but then had the chance to connect with so many former students that I decided to add another comment or two about the weekend. Paul Lagermasini '91 was here to watch the men's soccer game and to meet up with a couple of his classmates and his former coach. Paul has been working with current Coach Franklin to provide support for our men's soccer team AND to do some networking for some of our seniors who are looking for employment after graduation. Paul works for Credit Suisse in New York City and has been great about helping our seniors. I introduced him to men's basketball player Nate Birr who is interested in the financial field and Paul was very helpful for Nate in not only reviewing his resume, but in making some great suggestions for Nate. During the afternoon soccer game I was also glad to see Pat Maller '91 whom I hadn't seen in way too many years. The year after they all graduated and they returned to campus for their first "reunion weekend" a bunch of us got together at Sneakers restaurant in Winooski and Pat drove over that morning from his home in Maine with a cooler full of fresh lobsters and we all had "eggs benedict" but with fresh Maine lobsters - I reminder Pat and Paul of that story and we had a few good laughs about the "old days." Alex Canning, Megan Sweezey, Erin Noonan, Jeff Hechenbleckner, Drew Millikin, Logan Thurnauer, Nick Botto and too many others to list here were all at the soccer game - perfect weather - good friends and great memories - it is always so rewarding to catch up with former students and to see how happy they are and to head about how their lives are going. Before the soccer game and after grading some papers in my office, I met up with four current/former members of our men's hockey team for lunch in Winooski at McKee's Pub. Pat McGuirk, Ryan Nest, Dave Vorozilchak and Alex Higgins all met me there and we had a great time - Ryan and Alex worked this summer at a camp for kids with behavioral issues in New York State and had an amazing time throughout the entire 8 weeks of this residential camp. They were able to put their psychology major to good use as they provided positive role models to youth who usually don't have such good role models. After lunch and before the soccer game I returned to my office and graded a few more papers from my Sports Psychology class - not bad for their first efforts and they seemed to take me seriously when I warned them that "you are either blessed or cursed that I used to teach English" and that I hold all of my students accountable for their grammar, spelling and punctuation...... They don't necessarily like it, but they did make an effort to keep their errors to the minimum. It seems as if today's youth are so used to the "language" of email and text-messaging, where shortcuts ARE the thing to do that they forget that "formal" writing does NOT include these shortcuts

On Sunday afternoon Dave Vorozilchak (PA), Tully Labelle-Hammer (AK) and Alex Higgins (AZ) came over to my house and we drove out Rte. 15 to Johnson where we then drove up Prospect Rock Road and hiked a short way up into the mountains. Dave is currently finishing up his Engineering Degree at UVM and living on campus here as he has been part of the SMC/UVM Engineering Program. Dave also was captain of last year's men's hockey team and his parents are the "salt of the earth" and great people whom many of us at SMC have gotten to know over the four years Dave played hockey. Tully is from Alaska and also on the hockey team and a member of the Wilderness Program where he has been trained to be a team leader. He too is in the Engineering Program and he has had two great internships the past two summers in Alaska. Alex is captain of this year's hockey team, a student in two of my classes and treasurer of our Psychology Club. I know that all three of them really enjoy the outdoors and Alex and I went kayaking a few weeks ago down at the Waterbury Reservoir. Dave has just taken kayaking up as a new hobby and Tully is a certified kayak trainer for the Wilderness Program. As you will see from the picture, there is a fantastic view from Prospect Rock and soon, very soon, the foliage will be in full color and I suspect that we won't have very many "leaf peepers" up there. The guys were very appreciative of the trip and we ended it with a stop at a Vermont Maple Sugar Outlet on rte.15 where we all go Maple Creemees :0 After that brief dessert we headed to Taft Corners in Williston, right up the road from my house and had pizza at Ramunto's - a buffalo chicken pizza with blue cheese dressing was just what they ordered - I have to say that I envy the metabolism of these three young men as they sure CAN eat........

It has been a good week for classes and yesterday's Theories class was exceptional as we were utilizing the Developmental Lab which has a two way mirror in it so students role play counselor and counselee while the rest of us observe from the other side of the mirror - it doesn't take long for the "counselor" to completely forget that there are 15 of us on the other side of that mirror - students study a theory on Tuesdays and then have the chance to operationalize that theory AND use the counseling skills they are also learning on Thursdays in the lab. My Practicum class has all been placed and I have 15 students who are now working in community mental health agencies across Chittenden County for 8 - 10 hours a week and they are then in class with me 2.5 hours a week. I am looking forward to their discussions of their various sites and to how they will incorporate what they have learned in their psychology classes "on the job."

Back to grading papers - take care, be well and, as I always ask, PLEASE keep all of the members of our military - veterans and current members alike AND their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

SMC Athletic Hall of Fame - Reunion Weekend

Last night the College honored five individuals and one team at the annual Athletic Hall of Fame dinner held at The Double Tree Hotel in So. Burlington. This is always held in conjunction with the fall Alumni Reunion which brings a large number of our alums back to campus. This is also combined with First Year Family Weekend which provides families the chance to visit their "kids" and see how they have survived their first three weeks of classes. :)

After an introduction by Athletic Director Geri Knortz and a welcome from President Jack Neuhauser, the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, VP for Institution Advancement Pat Gallivan invited Fr. Brian Cummings up for a blessing and then we all enjoyed a great meal. I was sitting with the President, Marilyn Cormier (Director of Corporate and Community Affairs), Fr. Mike, Fr. Brian, Fr. Ray and Fr. Marcel along with VP for Enrollment Management Jerry Flanagan and AD Geri Knortz. It was great to see so many familiar faces as we came together to celebrate and honor a team and individuals who had given to much to SMC through their athletic participation while students and who give so much to their communities now as members of our greater society. It was a very poignant moment when the first recipient was announced - his classmates from the Class of '64 had nominated him and provided many letters of support for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Donald J. "Bucky" Egan was in the class of '64 and was an outstanding baseball player and leader both in and out of the classroom. Upon his graduation from SMC he entered the United States Marines and was killed in action in 1967 in Vietnam. His daughter was there to accept the honor on behalf of her family. As she shared stories and memories and then former AD Ed Markey, who had been "Bucky's" baseball coach shared his memories, it was truly the right thing to do to honor this man who gave so much to SMC and who made the ultimate sacrifice for others by giving his life. I was struck with so many similarities to what is occurring across this country today as so many families are profoundly changed by losing a loved one to war. His daughter's appreciation to SMC for including her father in this HOF class was palpable.
Magan Gately Trotta, Class of '93, Jennifer Kay Berger, Class of '94, Kyle Lanfear, Class of '98 and Sara Pope, Class of '04 were all introduced and they each spoke of how their education here and their time here had impacted who they have become today. With spouses and children by their sides, these folks thanked the College, not only for their time here, but also for their inclusion into the Hall of Fame. After the individual former athletes were honored, for only the second time in the history of the Hall of Fame, a sports team was honored. The 1988 Field Hockey team which ended up being the ECAC Division II/III Champions were honored. It is a true testament to this event that all but two of the members of that winning team were present last night. Some came from as far away as Oregon and others from North and South Carolina. It was so nice to see so many familiar faces and to watch then get re-acquainted after so many years. They have kept in contact through Facebook and emails, but it was great for them to actually be together again - this time, along with spouses and children. Their coach Ann Noone Adams beamed with pride as each member of the team was presented with a commemorative medal by Ann and AD Geri Knortz. All in all, a great evening. Pat said it best when he lamented that it is unfortunate that more of our current students are not able to attend this event so that they can hear from those who have gone before them, about the amazingly strong sense of community that this place we call HOME cultivates in everyone. Well said Patrick.
This IS reunion weekend and while my intent was to come in and grade papers this morning I have been talking with a number of recent alums who are "back home" in Colchester, Vermont and I am heading out to have lunch with several of them down in Winooski.

Take care, be well, and as always, please keep all of the members of our military and all of our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.


Friday, September 3, 2010

The first week.....

Grace Kelly and our wonderful Orientation Leaders for 2010

After a very successful four day Orientation Program which welcomed over 550 new students to Saint Michael's College classes began this past Monday. The weather has been incredible and quite unusual for this time of year with Vermont and the Burlington area experiencing an "official" heat wave = three consecutive days of 90+ temperatures - we actually broke records each of those three days. Fortunately I teach in a nicely air conditioned classroom so students did NOT miss a class. Mondays I have my Practicum class which has 16 senior psychology majors who will be spending 8 - 10 hours a week for the entire school year working at a local social service agency - they will then spend 2.5 hours a week in class processing that experience, learning new skills, studying the various sites and supporting each other. We are unique in that SMC had a year-long Practicum where most other places only provide their students with a one-semester experience. Our students tell us that graduate schools and employers are very impressed that we have such an extensive program for our students. Most of my students are already placed on sites as we provide them with potential placements in May and they are expected to make the contacts over the summer. Prof. Molly Millwood teaches the other section and it is always a personal and professional pleasure to be able to work so closely with her. Sports Psychology and Theories of Counseling classes are T/Th this semester and both are full. I always feel badly when I have to turn down students who "really want to take this class" but reality is what it is and they can always sign up for another semester. On Thursday I took my Sports Psychology class to the library where Kristin Hindes, one of our reference librarians spends about an hour explaining to my students how to more effectively utilize the wealth of resources we have available. My students have to do three research papers this semester and they have to work together on two presentations which they make to the entire class - I laughingly title Kristin's presentation as "Beyond Google and" - the quality of the papers my students submit has risen exponentially ever since I have had Kristin do this presentation. Too many students are NOT aware of the variety of resources available AND of the help which is provided by the library staff. The College recently "purchased" a new database called SportsDiscus which we used a couple of years ago on a pilot basis - this database contains over 550 different sources of information on every topic imaginable related to "sports" and "psychology."

I have been hearing from many of our recent graduates as they begin graduate school programs or their employment. I have been getting a couple of calls a day for reference checks on these students and enjoy being able to provide strong references for these students. It is also a lot of fun to follow these students on Facebook as they write about their new classes, their new jobs and how much they miss SMC - fortunately we are having Alumni Weekend in a few weeks and many, many of them will be returning for that. One recent alum called me this morning to tell me that a woman brought her young son into his school to enroll him and when she saw that he was wearing an SMC shirt she asked about his connection - as they talked they shared stories of people they may know in common and my name came up so he just HAD to call and tell me that Betsy Wolfe (not sure of her married name) had asked him to say hi to me - he hesitated because he didn't know if I would be excited to know that yet another one of my former students is in fact, old enough to have a child entering school AND that she has another child at home but he did want to let me know that she said hello......... :)

Take care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families in your thoughts and prayers.