Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years - It Gets Better

As we did last year, a group of us who have worked at SMC for almost the past 30 years gathered at Jennie and Art Cernosia's home to "construct: Gingerbread Houses. We have been good friends and all have SMC as our common connection. Last night was particularly great as Mark and Alicia Cernosia, pictures above with Fr. Mike joined us. I haven't seen them since their wedding and as they are both alums of SMC, it was appropriate for them to join us. You can see the "houses" that we did construct in the picture on the right - we spent almost 4 hours together and I posted pictures on Facebook and have already received dozens of responses from folks who recognized all of us and who have great memories with Jennie, Fr. Mike, Sue Kuntz, Ann Giombetti or me. A great time.

Classes are over with, the semester has ended, grades have been completed and posted and now it is time to complete more letters of recommendation for my students, construct my syllabi for second semester and reflect on the past semester. Fr. Mike asked me last night how my semester had gone and I simply responded that I had not had one bad class the entire semester. A tribute to our students. I am blessed to work here with the people I work with and thoroughly enjoy engaging with my students at so many levels. They continue to amaze me with their level of interest, their critical thinking and their willingness to actively engage in their learning.

Back in September, after attending an NCAA Diversity workshop in Providence, RI, I challenged our SAAC _ Student Athletic Advisory Council - to collaborate with Common Ground, our Gay/Straight Alliance on campus to create an It Gets Better video in response to last fall's rash of young people taking their own lives across this country because they were or were perceived to be gay. Their ages ranged from 11 - yes, 11 years of age to 18 and many of them had been bullied in their schools. Sadly, many of the bullies were later identified to have been athletes. I KNOW our athletes and have worked with them for almost 30 years and KNOW that our athletes can be ALLIES and not ADVERSARIES for anyone who is "different." That challenge was taken up by Brady Earle (men's ice hockey) and Samantha Steinmetz (women's basketball) and they immediately contacted Common Ground and wrote a script, engaged with Common Ground folks and the final product of this collaboration hit the internet last week. They did an amazing, amazing job and with the help of people like Brian Healey, Rachel Stone, Samantha Hooper and our men's and women's basketball teams PLUS many students from Common Ground, their video has not gone onto the internet and is posted on the Student Association's website, the Athletic Department's website, the NE-10 website and the NCAA website. I couldn't be more proud of our students - they took a difficult challenge and made something wonderful happen. Please check out the video when you have a chance and let us know your reaction. These young people didn't do this for credit - they did it because it was the right thing to do - to be supportive of anyone who struggles because of a difference, either perceived or actual - just one of the many, many reasons why I love this place I call home.

Take care, be well, have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends and as our troops have now left Iraq, please keep all of them, our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers. Remember that while we lost 4,500 American soldiers and had 35,000+ wounded, the toll on the Iraqi people was also devastating as they had over 100,000 of their people killed and countless others wounded. With our still having troops in Afghanistan, please remember them all at this time of year. We are able to celebrate here while our soldiers stand guard for our freedoms over there. The Psychology Club sent over 200 Christmas cards and 150 "nips" of Vermont Maple Syrup to Jesse Holland to distribute to his company over in Afghanistan - please take care.....

Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Finals begin tomorrow - New York City is amazing...

I flew to New York City on Friday to celebrate the retirement of Jim Wall, our former Board Chair (4 years) and member of the Trustees of the College (12 years) . Jim is also married to my sister..... Jim's contributions to the Human Resource field has been amazing and he often attributes his success to the foundation he received right here at SMC as an undergraduate. His firm, Deloitte Touche, Tomatsu is the largest accounting field in the world and they honored Jim with a wonderful celebration of his 27 years with the firm. They also gave a gift to the College and specifically to SMC Fire and Rescue as Jim was a member of that group when he was an undergraduate and he has remained a loyal supporter of that organization here. Well done Jim..... There were 4 former CEOs who spoke but for me, the highlight was when his son Mike and his daughter Maggie took to the stage to "talk about their DAD."

In one of those small world stories, as I settled into my seat on the plane from Burlington to NYC the seat next to me was taken by Connor Stewart a Class of 2011 graduate. Connor is working in Burlington for Democracy for America and seems to be thriving. I knew Connor because he was actively involved in many, many students activities here, including the Student Association. He and one of his SMC roommates were heading to Chicago for a concert - it was great to catch up with him.

Classes ended on Friday and while many of us were shaking our heads about how fast this semester has gone, students were preparing for their finals which begin tomorrow. It has been a "different" semester with our new 4 x 4 curriculum but for the most part, students seem to have survived the changes. We held a "December Graduation" this morning as we always have a number of students who graduate now - it is always nice to meet families of students and to watch how proud they are of their "kids" at they finish up their undergraduate careers here. I just finished some grading and am now heading out to Grace Kelly's home for an afternoon with the Student Association's Executive Board - these students have worked so hard this semester, bringing their own strengths and personalities to the Student Association. The advisors have been invited to gather with them so I am looking forward to a good afternoon.

Take care, be well and, please keep all of the members of our military - our veterans and all of their families, especially at this time of year, in your thoughts and prayers. The Psychology Club just sent 150 Vermont Maple Syrup "nibs" and 250 Christmas cards to Jesse Holland who recently spent his "leave" from Afghanistan back here on campus talking with our current students - there are 150 men and women in Jesse's company stationed on the Pakistan and Afghanistan border and so the officers of the Psychology Club got in contact with Jesse once he returned to Afghanistan and asked what they wanted for Christmas and Jesse, being a true Vermonter, suggested Vermont Maple Syrup - good call my friend.