Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Graduation pictures and Winston Churchill's spy in WW II

Now that Commencement is really over with many of my students have posted graduation pictures on Facebook. In the second picture are Tully LaBelle-Hamer from Alaska and Alex Higgins from Arizona. Both were members of our men's ice hockey team and they are just two of the many, many amazing students I have had the privilege of knowing and teaching (and learning from) here at SMC. The other picture to the lower right is one with me and Samantha (SAM) Taturczak - she is another one of those exceptional students who not only excelled in the classroom (she took all but one of my classes so I know just how smart she really is) but she is someone who is an amazing role model for all students - especially for students in our residence halls as Sam has served as a Resident Assistant for several years and she has been actively involved with all aspects of Residence Life and a major contributor and leader of several of our clubs and organizations - a special person who will be part of my "family" forever, much like Tully and Alex.

The other picture on the top is of me with my friends Max and Linda Ciampoli who are the authors of Churchill's Secret Agent. They live in Reno, NV and along with my friends Davis/Ann Clark, Jim and Sue Wall (my sister and brother-in-law) and my niece Maggie we met up in New York City's Central Park this past Saturday. Max and Linda were in NYC to present to the Jewish Book Council on their book. Max was a spy for Winston Churchill during WW II and he is responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. Max, a Catholic, was doing all of these things when he was just 17,18 and 19 years old and I used their book and Max's exploits to challenge MY students to answer the question: "what would YOU do if this country, like Max's France, was ever to be invaded?" - now there is no answer to that question but it certainly made for fascinating discussions in my Men & Masculinities class. I suggested that they might want to read the book and write a reaction which I then sent to Max and Linda - it is so important to Max (now 88 years old) to hear what young people think about what happened back then AND that they NOT forget that we all need to be aware of what is going on in our world. Being in NYC with good friends and my family was an amazing end of our academic year. More of my students, even though they have graduated, are reading this book and have spoken with me about how amazed they are at the things that Max had to do in order to save the lives of so many.

Several former students are going to be in town this weekend and Burlington hosts their marathon along Lake Champlain and I have heard from several who will be here and who want to get together - IF it stops raining, it should be a great weekend. Next Monday is also Memorial Day and so once again, I ask that we all remember the members of our military and our veterans and their families in our thoughts and prayers. Memorial Day should be every day..... We owe them all so much.

Take care and be well, and also please keep those students and staff from SMC who are doing service trips to Rawanda, India and the Dominican Republic in your thoughts and prayers too.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Commencement was exceptional

Yesterday we all gathered on campus for the annual ritual called Commencement. On Sunday we had gathered in the chapel for the Baccalaureate Mass and then in the Ross Sport Center for the Honors Assembly and then a reception following in the Tarrant Center. It was a time of celebration, and a chance for me to meet the parents of so many of my students from over these past four years. It is always an emotional time for all of us and I had the unique opportunity to thank these parents for sending their daughters/sons to us - while I understand fully that these students are better because of the time they have spent with us, I also reminded the parents and thanked them because WE are all better because they have been with us for these past four years. The Commencement speaker was Jim Wall - Jim, while having the lofty title of Global Managing Partner for Human Resource and Talent Management for Deloitte, Touche, Tomatsu (the largest accounting firm in the world) his is best known because he is ONE OF US. Jim's time at SMC as a student in the early 70's contributed to the success he has experienced since his graduation from SMC in 1974. His Commencement address is worth watching in its entirety and I simply cannot do it justice here so I will only ask that you all go onto YouTube and type in Commencement at Saint Michael's College - James H. Wall - please watch it and see why I have said that Jim's talk was exceptional - I have listened to many, many Commencement speakers and Jim was wise enough to speak with six seniors prior to writing his speech and his talk was honest, REAL, emotional and so well received by students, faculty/staff, parents and everyone who heard him. Since yesterday I have heard from many of my students and many of my colleagues who commented that Jim's speech was simply the BEST they have ever heard. Great praise indeed. Thank you Jim.....

One additional note from Commencement - near the conclusion of the celebration, Vice President for Academic Affairs Karen Talentino asked all of the members of the faculty and staff to stand and be recognized by the students - we did and they, and their parents and families also rose and gave all of us a spontaneous round of applause - a first in my memory - just more evidence of what an amazing class this is. thanks.....

It is never easy to see students leave - we have watched them over the past four years grow and mature into amazing individuals who will make our world a better place - I never say goodbye- merely a "later" as they leave for the next step in their journey. So, thank you to all of you who have so impacted me - thank you to Sarah Regan's Dad for letting me know that he DID read my blogs (it usually seems as if no one else does read this thing) and thanks to all of you who DO read this but who choose not to comment on it.

Take care, be well, look for summer postings from me 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. I just finished reading the final paper of one of my former students - my friend Alan - his final paper for the completion of his Clinical Psychology graduate degree was a qualitative essay on how these wars have impacted his life. He presented information on how he decided to join the military, his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and his being Stop-Lossed and returned to Afghanistan after having already served his four years and finally to how all of this has impacted him as he has transitioned OUT of the military - an amazingly powerful story - his story will help him AND others as they learn how to deal with what they have seen, done, experienced in service to ALL OF US - they deserve our thanks AND our prayers........


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Let the finals begin.........

Practicum Reception
Psi Chi Induction

Yesterday was the last day of the semester and now it is time for finals to begin. It has been an incredibly busy couple of weeks as the College held its Symposium featuring academic departments honoring student achievements. The Psychology Department was no exception as our students who had completed their Honors Projects (bottom right picture) presented them to the Department and the College. Students who had participated in Practicum and/or Independent Study also presented their POSTERS (upper right and bottom left) over in the Ross Sport Center. We also held our induction of new members of Psi Chi - the International Honor Society for Psychology. We also hosted the first annual Practicum Reception (top center picture) in the Pomerleau Alumni Center where current Practicum students met with next year's students and we thanked the site supervisors for their participation in our very successful Practicum program.

The sun has come out again (we had forgotten what it looked like) and it has stopped raining - Lake Champlain is at its highest level EVER and this has impacted everyone in the area who enjoys the many opportunities offered by this great Lake... BUT life goes on and as students begin their finals and our seniors reluctantly get ready for Commencement on the 16th, we celebrate the conclusion of yet another academic year. I have had five groups of students over to my house for dinners this semester and that ends on this Thursday when I am having my Practicum class over for lunch. the students are always so grateful to be invited to a professor's home and it is always so much fun for me. At least having this group for lunch will hopefully mean that I won't be telling them that they have to leave at 11:15 p.m. which happened all five times when students were here for dinner.........

As always, please take good care and keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.