In Their Own Words
Six unique stories bring the Emmanuel educational mission to life
In Their Own Words
In the following six stories, you'll hear directly from seven members of the Emmanuel community who are, each in their own way, living the mission of the College. They have taken their Emmanuel educational experience into the world and made a significant difference by teaching, by having a vision, by mentoring, by reaching a professional goal, by caring and by giving to the community.
The importance of service, a global perspective, the power of real-world experience, educating the under-served and a community spirit have long been hallmarks of the Emmanuel College educational mission. But, the mission today does not belong to the institution. It belongs to, and is furthered by, the thousands of people who have been, and still are, part of the Emmanuel community -- alumni, students, faculty and beyond.
Diana Stork is an Associate Professor of Management at Emmanuel College. She is Chair of the Management/Economics Department and Chair of the Institutional Review Board. She has developed and teaches a service-learning course, Management Research for Positive Change, which has partnered with Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mission Grammar School in Boston to create a survey and collect data to help the school with its outreach and plans for the future.
One of the things I have really loved about joining Emmanuel is that there is a true commitment to the mission.
It's not just words. It's very real. I've never been in a place where the mission and the values are as lived as they are here, and I've taught in a number of other schools. There's a commitment to community and a commitment to action. Everyone, students and teachers alike, care about service and the community. So developing an elective around that truly inspired me.
For me, as a teacher, my challenge was to develop an elective that would connect that which is so evident in the Emmanuel mission to the quantitative and analytical skills that students need to learn. In keeping with the mission, any course I created had to make a real difference for a local organization. It had to be hands-on, something the students could be engaged with, and go well beyond just classroom work.
As you might expect, the first order of business was to identify an organization in the local community that needed us, an organization that could in no way afford to hire the kind of survey work they needed to understand their real issues and what specifically needed to be addressed. Mission Grammar School, which is just up the road from Emmanuel, was the ideal candidate. So when we approached the school with the idea, as you might expect, we were welcomed with open arms.
What's so wonderful about this initiative is that it's a win-win situation. Mission Grammar gained access to a level of expertise they otherwise would not have had, and the students received a high level hands-on experience to supplement their classroom work.
It was not an easy task, though. This was a real-world challenge for my students, which made the course all the more exciting and experiential. Every single day was a new learning experience.
Our ultimate goal was to provide the school with information it could use to improve outreach and marketing efforts to the surrounding community in the Mission Hill area. Doing that, of course, required starting at the very basic level of becoming immersed and engaged in what Mission Grammar is all about. We started by learning about the community served by the school by researching population statistics, economics statistics, what was going on with local businesses, crime rates - anything that affected the school and the community around it.
We also invited Representative Jeffrey Sanchez to talk with us about his district, which is where the school is located. We visited the school, we met and talked with teachers, we sat in on classes, we watched the children, and we learned a great deal from Maura Bradley, the principal of the school and an Emmanuel graduate. We surveyed the families of current students to learn about what was important to them in choosing a school like Mission Grammar, and to assess how well the school was serving their needs. Through this process, my students were able to learn about designing and writing surveys, how to use SPSS [Statistical Package for the Social Sciences] and how to analyze data and interpret results. For me, it led to a collaborative experience that I didn't anticipate and was incredibly inspired by. In many ways, my students became like my peers as we worked together on this project.
I think what was particularly eye-opening for everyone was working in a real-world setting. My students knew that the final project and recommendations we delivered in the end would make a real impact on the school. People were depending on us. We had deadlines. We had to make a full-scale presentation to the Mission Hill pastor and to the school board. We had to press to get it all done, and just like in the real world, two days before the presentation, we weren't even close. But these students became so experienced and we all relied on one another. We divvied up the work, and even though everyone was scrambling, we were getting things done, and done well. I don't think I've ever worked with professional colleagues anywhere that could have done a better job in the presentation than these students did. I mean that.
As a teacher, I can say I've never been more proud, and it was a perfect example of why I love it here at Emmanuel. Yes, ultimately it was a class that students were taking. But when you look at what these students have accomplished, all that they learned, and all in an environment that went so far beyond the classroom, to a place where they really made a difference in the community, well, that's what teaching is all about, isn't it?
Margaret Carrozza is from East Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently a senior at Emmanuel, and the recipient of a Lynch Scholarship through the Carolyn A. Lynch Institute at Emmanuel College, a center which focuses on training teachers in urban education, and in the subjects of math and science. Margaret recently finished a practicum as a student teacher in the 4th grade at the Curtis Guild School in Boston.
I've always wanted to be a grammar school teacher. Always. It's a goal I've been working towards for as long as I can remember, so this scholarship has provided me with an invaluable opportunity to reach my goal.
Getting a chance like this is so important as a student and it's changed things for me in ways I couldn't have imagined.
I certainly wasn't expecting to win the scholarship. I had submitted my essay, which focused on my teaching interests and why I thought I'd be a good addition to an urban school. Then, to be honest, I put it in the back of my mind. Then one day Dr. Sally Dias, who directs the program, asked to interview me. I thought it was just another step in the process, but as it turned out she actually wanted to tell me I had won the scholarship. Of course, I was thrilled.
My Emmanuel education has helped prepare me to teach in an urban environment because it has taught me about the diversity that exists in urban classrooms including English Language Learners, special education students, and students who come from families with low socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, Emmanuel has taught me how to modify my instruction in order to accommodate all types of learners.
I've just finished my semester at the Guild School, a small school in East Boston, teaching a 4th grade class. It's been a great experience teaching in an urban environment. The Guild School has a large Latino population and working with these children has been a new and rewarding experience for me. They have taught me never to set limits on them, always to be flexible, and, most importantly, never to lower the bar - to always keep it up there because they'll reach for it.
My philosophy is that preparation and lesson planning is one of the most important things to focus on as a teacher. Without a solid lesson plan, I knew I would not get the best results. It sounds simple, but it's so true. I have always wanted to make sure I was prepared for my students. I did a lot of lesson planning on the weekends and took the agenda book home to map out the entire following week.
It was also helpful to have an experienced teacher by my side. Every week we would sit down and go over what went right, what could've gone better, and talked about anything that needed to be changed. She was great about giving me feedback, both the positive and the negative, and you really do need to hear both.
No doubt fulfilling this scholarship has taken a lot of my time, but it hasn't kept me from being involved in other activities at Emmanuel. There's so much you can do here, it's hard not to get involved.
I've been at the Academic Resource Center (ARC) for the last two years, tutoring for U.S. History to 1877, U.S. History Since 1877, and for Foundations of Mathematics for Teachers I. I'm also tutoring for the MTEL, which is the test that teachers must take to become licensed. I run study groups, and also tutor by individual appointment. It's a lot of work, I know, but I enjoy it. The work helps me with my own grades, which is important, because I have to maintain at least a 3.5 in order to keep the scholarship. I've also been on the dance team since my first year, and I've been captain for two years. We perform at all home games for men's and women's basketball, and we perform at some other Emmanuel College events. We also go to competitions, and will be going to Nationals this year.
The environment here at Emmanuel has been ideal for me because it has allowed me to develop more of a relationship with professors. They know the students on a more personal level, and that matters to me. We all know each other and care about each other. You just won't get that at a big school.
As far as what I want to do when I graduate, I want to go to graduate school for my master's degree in elementary education. Once I receive my master's, I would love to teach at the Guild School if I could, but I'd be happy teaching at any Boston Public School. As long as I'm teaching kids, I'll be happy. Who knows, maybe I'll wind up in the East Boston area where I grew up. I would really love that.
Petros Vamvakas is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Emmanuel, teaching International Relations and Comparative Politics. Dr. Vamvakas is involved in faculty-student research and has guided students in the Model United Nations competition. He has also developed several new courses since coming on board with the College including Latin American Politics, Street Democracy, International Law and Institutions, Revolution and Nationalism and a First-Year Seminar called Clash of Civilizations.
Emmanuel has a terrific sense of community. That's one of the things I love about being here. There are so many clubs and groups on campus which allow students to get involved in activities outside the classroom, and that's inspiring to me.
I have experienced this first-hand with the Model U.N. Club. When I first arrived at Emmanuel College, there was a group of students who were very interested in getting involved in Model U.N. competitions across the country. They were in need of some guidance, and because of my role in the political science department and my experience with these competitions in the past, someone asked me if I would be interested in helping out. I couldn't resist.
What many people don't know is that Model U.N. competitions are quite significant, with teams from colleges and universities from around the world coming together to debate international political issues. Each school has a team that represents a specific country throughout the competition. Some schools, depending on the size, might field two or three teams. Here at Emmanuel, we've had just one team over the last two years, but this year, we have two teams in the competition. One team will be Iraq, which of course is very significant in terms of global politics, and the other will be Colombia.
The commitment of the students this year has been tremendous. It's not a required course; this is something students do on their own after hours. They are very self-motivated and I'm just there to mentor and guide them. It's all driven by them, and believe me, it's a lot of work. They need to learn their country's politics, its place in the global community, any regional problems that the country might have - it's really a complete immersion in every aspect of the country being represented. Students have to write position papers, which are turned in before the competition begins, and then present their ideas using Robert's Rules from the British parliamentary structure.
Model U.N. is a fantastic opportunity, because it so closely connects with Emmanuel's educational mission by enabling our students to be engaged in the world around them. I believe my professional experience has allowed me to offer a unique international perspective to these students as they prepare for competitions.
Emmanuel also presents a great opportunity to students through the College's faculty-student research initiatives. Undergrad-uate students work closely with professors and assist in their respective research, which is an academic experience that only graduate students gain in most colleges and universities. I have had the good fortune to work with three excellent students during my tenure at Emmanuel College, who have been invaluable to my research. Last year, George Tselias and Colleen Armstrong were instrumental in my research projects, which eventually became conference papers at the Northeast Political Science Association in November 2005 and at the Midwest Political Science Association in April 2006. As a matter of fact, Colleen presented our joint research work dealing with "Alliance Membership and the Threats to Democracy post-September 11, 2001" at an Admissions Open House in March 2006.
In the fall of 2006, I had the opportunity to work closely with another student, Sean McKendry, who provided assistance in preparation for several meetings and conferences which I attended in the fall, including a conference paper presentation at the Northeast Political Science Association in Boston titled "Neoliberalism and Street Democracy: A Counter-Democratic Process." In addition, Sean was able to present his own work at the same conference.
I have also completed a great deal of work regarding NATO, some of which was done with the help of Emmanuel students. This work earned me an invitation to NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, where I was one of only 15 academics and foreign policy professionals from the U.S. who were invited to a briefing from top U.S. and NATO officials including Dr. Jamie Shea.
Both the Model U.N. competitions and faculty-student research are prime examples of how Emmanuel students have many opportunities to combine classroom learning with real-world experiences. This results in a unique and high-level academic experience.
Mary Beth Claus Tobin
Mary Beth Claus Tobin is a 1976 graduate of Emmanuel College. During her time at Emmanuel, she created her own internship centered around the concept of childcare for working mothers, long before it would become an important part of everyday life. This internship helped shape what is today the Tobin School, an innovative private school with a curriculum that runs from pre-K through 5th grade in Natick, MA.
For me, the choice to come to Emmanuel was clear at an early age. The school was already familiar to me because my mother and sister were both students there and had great experiences.
I remember being in junior high school and going on campus to visit my sister and liking all the people I met. I liked what they stood for. So when the time came for me to choose a college, it was an easy decision. I just had this feeling that if I was in the Emmanuel environment I could flourish and focus on what I wanted to do. As it turned out, that was all true.
I think I was lucky, because I knew what I wanted to do from an early age. I always had this vision for childcare and day care. This was back in 1975, long before what it is today - the concept of day care centers didn't really exist. Harvard had one and there were maybe a handful of others, but the suburbs didn't have any at all. The whole concept of working women hadn't come around yet, and the idea of day care wasn't something that people thought of as a priority. The few childcare centers that did exist were really custodial care, they weren't all about focusing on things that would actually benefit and enrich the children. Anytime I talked about what was important for children in these situations, other people dismissed it. I was just a teenager, so maybe that was why, but I really believed in this. Nobody could have convinced me that what children were learning from birth to five wasn't important, or that the environment they were in didn't matter. Emmanuel played a huge role in my ability to follow my vision. I had looked through all internships for something that would help me focus on what I wanted to do, but there just weren't any. So I thought the only way I'd find the right kind of internship was to create my own. At first, I worried that I wouldn't be taken seriously. But Emmanuel, being the institution it is, embraced my desires and my ideas completely.
Of course, creating an internship from scratch wasn't something I could have done on my own. I have to give a lot of credit to Dr. Susan Zelman in the Education Department. She was someone who really believed in me, which for a young woman with a vision, was incredibly important. She guided me though everything I needed to do in order to make my internship a viable one. With her help, I was able to develop a customized program. I really don't believe I could have done this at any other school.
I wound up doing the internship at the Harvard Law School childcare center, working two days a week in the classroom, and then one day at the center. I met with the director regularly and I could talk to her about anything, whether it was staffing, insurance or the curriculum. No subject was off limits.
That internship was a critical turning point for me. What the Tobin School is today began with a pre-school I started, based on my philosophy of what young children really needed, and what I took away from that internship. Three months after we opened the doors, the program was full. After that, we opened a toddler program, then an infant program, a kindergarten and an after-school program.
The after-school program was unique and something I was proud of then, and still am proud of today. My philosophy was different than other after-school programs. I remembered how, as a child, I was always ready to go home when school was over. So I decided to design an after-care space that acknowledged that. We put together an environment that was very much like being at home. Even now, most after-school programs are in schools. What we do is different. We have a diverse schedule of activities, healthy snacks and everything a child would need or want to feel at home. We still use that concept of after-care today in the Tobin School. I can honestly say that the schools we run today, there are six, come from the vision I had back when I was at Emmanuel. Our schools run from pre-school through 5th grade. We have two infant/toddler/pre-K programs that are licensed by the state through the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and accredited through NAEYC, which is a national accreditation. We have three schools that are after-school programs, also licensed through the EEC, and nationally accredited through the National Afterschool Alliance. Many after-school programs are not licensed and most are not accredited. We're three of just 11 in the state that are. And of course, we have our elementary school, approved through the Department of Education.
The schools wouldn't be what they are today without my learning experience at Emmanuel College and the confidence it gave me to follow my vision. I've even been able to incorporate the Emmanuel tradition of volunteerism into the Tobin School. Volunteerism is a big part of our curriculum. You could say we help to carry on the Emmanuel tradition of teaching people how important it is to volunteer, and how important it is to realize that there are lives outside of your own. That's something that became ingrained during my time at Emmanuel. And it still is. I'm thankful for that. It really has become an important part of who I am, and what my schools are all about.
Melissa Charles and Karis Yusavitz
Melissa Charles and Karis Yusavitz are senior psychology majors at Emmanuel. Both are taking part in an internship at a shelter within the Family Justice Center in Boston. The internships are funded by the Jean Yawkey Center for Community Leadership at Emmanuel College. The Center, founded in 2004, develops programs in community service, service learning and student leadership development, and also offers scholarship support to students committed to serving the Boston community. Support for internships through the Center allows students to have important academic experiences while working.
Being able to learn outside of the classroom in a real-life environment was important in choosing an internship. The Family Justice Center's focus on helping women and children get out of bad situations is inspiring because it aligns with my own future career goals. And going so far beyond textbook learning or case studies has been a unique opportunity for me. This internship is a perfect example of why I wanted to come to Emmanuel. Its location in Boston, along with a close-knit community, has really paid off for me academically. In a huge school I don't think I would have ever found out about an internship like this.
Coupled with my experiences outside of the classroom, my academic experience at Emmanuel has created a solid foundation from which I can grow and continue to explore who I am as a young adult and what I can offer the wider community. Through my internship at the Family Justice Center, I have realized that I am drawn to work with this population of women who have experienced abuse and neglect and who are often ignored by society. I often ask, "If not me, then who?" I wonder this because of what I have been taught throughout my life. I cannot simply say that I am doing this internship because I was asked to apply for it; I truly feel that my education, as well as the professors, friends and colleagues that I have met up until now, have helped shape me into the woman, student, privileged, humbled and questioning human-being I am.
Through the classes I have had at Emmanuel, such as Search for Meaning, Basic Issues in Women's Studies, Powerful and Powerless: Women in Religion, Psychology of Women and the Honors Colloquium, I feel more than prepared for my internship because I am not only approaching my experience from a psychological perspective, but also from a religious and spiritual point of view. From an analytical standpoint I am challenged to go beyond the daily interactions I have with these women to ask why there is a need for non-profits to cater to this population. I feel more than privileged to have the education I have and, as a senior in my last semester, it is exciting and challenging all at the same time to figure out where I will go from here. I know there is much work that needs immediate attention in this world and I look forward to continuing my Emmanuel education after I graduate.
Being put into new situations and seeing how I react, that's been one of the most important things I've taken out of this internship experience so far. For me, I think that college is about finding your own identity, finding out who you are. This has been a great opportunity to take another step towards that. Overall, I'd say Emmanuel has fostered that in me - it's been a very good place to try new things and get involved. It's a school that emphasizes going off campus and getting into the city and making that your extended classroom.
For me, the internship is an opportunity that came about unexpectedly, as I was applying for other internships. The Internship Office had heard about the opportunity at the Family Justice Center, and because they knew me and my interests, they contacted me. When I read through what the program was all about, I just loved the goal - it was a project to bring all the resources necessary for trying to stop domestic violence together in one place. They had the District Attorney's Office involved, child advocates, staff from domestic violence and sexual assault units - all different kinds of outside partners coming together in one building. I knew the learning opportunity would be tremendous, and the idea of helping to create a place where everybody could work together towards a common goal was something I was definitely interested in.
I've actually been fortunate enough to start doing some case management work. I'm working with someone on-site who has worked at a domestic violence center and is doing case management. So I've started working with her, which is amazing because I want to get into counseling eventually, and this is a real-life experience of sitting down and talking to people to see what they're going through. I help with the case management, I go to court hearings, and I make sure that if the clients need paperwork, I can help them out. I'm also helping some women prepare for their GED tests. I have to say it's different when you're right there in front of people hearing their real stories. I don't think there's a better kind of learning opportunity, so this has been a very eye-opening and inspiring experience.
As a psychology major with a concentration in health and counseling, my courses here at Emmanuel have prepared me for the various personalities, family structures, and mental illnesses that I have encountered at the center. My academic experience at Emmanuel has given me a deeper understanding of teleology and causes of human behavior and interpretation, which has been extremely valuable during this internship.
Beyond the classroom, the community environment at Emmanuel is a great advantage. If the College's staff and faculty didn't know me personally, I wouldn't have known of this internship opportunity, and I wouldn't be getting so much real-world experience. You can read all the stories about domestic violence that you want, but until you're working with real people in real situations, you have no idea what you're getting into. For me it has been a reality check, as well as an educational experience.
Serghino René is a 2005 graduate of Emmanuel and was in the first class of males to come to Emmanuel after its decision to become coed. An English/ Communications major while at the College, Serghino has pursued a career in journalism and has recently become an assistant track coach at Emmanuel - a team for which he was the first ever male recruit.
I can remember driving by Emmanuel as a kid with my family talking about how I wanted to go there. Then when I was about 12, someone finally told me it was a women's college, so I kind of had to forget about it. Then when I went to a college fair in high school, I noticed that Emmanuel was one of the schools there and a friend asked me if I had heard they were going coed. I went right over to the table, got all the information, and the rest, you could say, is history. I visited a lot of other schools as well before choosing Emmanuel, but in the end, nothing else really quite appealed to me. Emmanuel just stood out.
Firstly, I was really drawn to the College's Catholic tradition. I'm a first generation Haitian-American and Haitians are more traditionally Catholic, so being at a Catholic institution was an extension of my identity. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through eighth grade and I was familiar with the environment. It was comforting to me. So to come back to that structure was really good.
As for being one of the first males to come to the school, I suppose that was a little different than it would be at other coeducational schools. But it didn't really turn out to be much of an issue, because there were so many of us that first year and it was such a smooth transition. I suppose my experience with the track team was the first situation in which I felt the impact of the change, because I had the honor of being the school's very first male track recruit.
My high school track coach knew Emmanuel's Head Coach, Tony DaRocha, who was about to start a track team. There weren't many of us, male or female, that first year. I was a sprinter, but Coach turned me into a cross-country runner, as well. By the time my senior year came around, we had really grown. We qualified under the NCAA standards. We were scoring a lot. It wasn't just me scoring anymore, other guys were serious about it and really making an impact. We had an amazing 4x4 team and we made it to the New England Regional competition. It was really cool to see where we came from, with me as the first recruit, to what it has grown to today.
I'm only a year and a half out of Emmanuel, but my experiences were so positive, I guess you could say that I can't stay away. I've just come back to be an assistant track coach. It's certainly a lot different than when I first got here as a student. Now, the runners who come out for track are experienced runners. They ran for their high school teams. They're all very focused and ready to win. When I first ran, we'd go to a track meet with three or four people. Now we walk in with 20 or 30.
We compete against Division I and Division II schools and people say, wow, Emmanuel has come a long way in the past few years.
But the most important part of my Emmanuel experience was the academic program. It really shaped what I'm doing now professionally, as a writer for the Bay State Banner newspaper, and as anchor for the Neighborhood News Network. I had always wanted to pursue journalism, and I have to give credit to my Emmanuel internship at Channel 5 for inspiring me to really focus on it. I was a producer for City Line, a minority news magazine, and I learned a lot from that. Mostly, it convinced me of what I really wanted to do once I graduated.
Still, it's not like I graduated and immediately just got the job of my dreams. It didn't happen right away. Actually, it happened by chance and believe it or not, through a connection from Emmanuel.
I had taken a job working in public relations and corporate communications, but I didn't really love it. Then one day, while out at lunch, I bumped into Howard Manly, who was my old journalism professor. He's a former Boston Globe and Boston Herald writer who now runs the Bay State Banner. We chatted a bit and he asked me if I'd be interested in writing for him. So I started freelancing for him on the side, and as time passed, one thing led to another, and one day he offered me a full-time writing position. I jumped on it. So now I'm writing for a newspaper, living in Boston, and doing a weekly on-camera report on the Neighborhood News Network. So you could say that even after I graduated, I'm still getting something out of my Emmanuel experience.
I couldn't be happier with how things have turned out so far. I'm learning a lot at my new job, and I'm really happy to be back at the College as the assistant track coach. Emmanuel has been such a big part of my life and career, and will continue to be.