Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to meet with many of our students and alumni. In one of these sessions with student leaders in Brooklyn, I asked the students to tell me about their dreams for their futures.
Like so many students who I have come to know over the years, these young women and men had clear and passionate aspirations for lives and careers of fulfillment and service. While it is inspiring to hear this, it is also gratifying that they feel strongly that St. Joseph’s College has prepared them well for their futures. I encouraged them to work hard to make all of their hopes and dreams a reality.
Shortly after this conversation, I was visiting with a group of older alumnae and their spouses. When I asked the same question in a slightly different way, they all shared that their time at St. Joseph’s was also transformational and a time when their own dreams for the future were firmly in mind.
This meeting, however, ended with a more sobering reality. While very appreciative of their education even decades after graduating, they realized that not all of their dreams as undergraduates had come true … in some cases replaced by other aspirations … in other cases because of the journeys they took in their lives.
One of the spouses who had been quiet during the entire time we were together suddenly spoke up. He said that he was envious of his wife’s education and the opportunity she had — to be at a college like St. Joseph’s — where students were encouraged and inspired. He said he had wanted to get a degree, but could not afford it.
I share these stories because I think they reflect what is at the heart of this year’s President’s Report. The students who enrolled at the newly founded St. Joseph’s College in 1916, and those who attended throughout the past century in Brooklyn and Long Island, share the same foundational experience that is fundamental to this College.
Students of earlier generations may have worn different clothes, had different hair styles and listened to different music, but their success at this great institution was dependent on their hard work, the dedication of our faculty and staff, and the generosity of our friends and benefactors who financially supported programs and scholarships.
Just like today’s students … and tomorrow’s students … these key ingredients are critical to the ability of so many of our students to be successful … to have the opportunity for a St. Joseph’s College education. In this issue, you will read about women and men from different generations who have benefitted in the same way from their St. Joseph’s experience. And some of the generous friends and benefactors who made it possible. This fundamental reality of students with high ability and limitless aspirations … needing the generosity of our abiding donors … reflects the reality of so many of our alumni, as well as the hope for the generations of students to come.
As our older alumnae were sharing their lives and the experiences of their journeys, I couldn’t help but recall one of my own dreams as an undergraduate at Boston College more than 40 years ago. I was going to be the next great American playwright. As an English major, I took every course available on theater and drama. In a course on British Playwrights of the 19th century, the play The Second Mrs. Tanqueray by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero captivated me. In it, Pinero wrote, “I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate.”
I didn’t become a playwright. But this line from Pinero has always helped me to appreciate the past, live in the present and prepare for the future. As St. Joseph’s College begins its second century of providing quality education, we should also celebrate the basic values that never have and never will change. As you read the stories in this magazine, you will see that while so much seems to be changing at the College and in the world, we are very much the same as we have always been. The future of St. Joseph’s College in so many ways is really only the past again.
I thank you for your continued and abiding support of the College. Thank you for what you have done in the past … and what you will do in the future. We continue to look for great things at St. Joseph’s … great dreams … confident in the words of the Psalmist, “I delight to do thy will, O Lord, for I know thy will for me is supreme good in my present and in my future.” — Psalm 40:8
Jack P. Calareso, Ph.D.