Every day, I have conversations with members of our community; I receive many emails, letters and even texts from students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Often I hear stories of accomplishments, conquering challenges, and academic, athletic and personal successes.
But occasionally, stories come at times of need, through sadness, and loss.
Late in the evening of July 26, I received a note from Staci Herman ’14, a recently graduated chemistry major who is soon to begin a Ph.D. program in chemistry at the University of Cincinnati.
She was emailing to ask that the College recognize members of the Chemistry Department, from which she had kept many of the texts and notes she used at Saint Anselm to further her studies this fall. But the reason she reached out to me was not simply because we have outstanding faculty who prepare our students to excel in graduate degree programs.
“On July 21st something unfathomable occurred as our house caught fire. At first we thought that the fire would be minor, but as time passed we noticed smoke coming from the attic right above my room. That caused my heart to sink because where the fire was meant my diploma would be lost. Worse yet…all my chemistry books and notes would be lost too.”
Dr. Derk Wierda received an email from Staci soon after the fire, asking how she could obtain a new diploma. His response: “I’ll pay for it.”
Dr. Nicole Eyet assured Staci that she’d send replacement notes – and that the department would cover the cost of replacing lost textbooks.
And less than a week after the fire, Staci described receiving a box from the Chemistry Department and Dr. Brian Penney that contained notes, textbooks, and more than $400 in gift cards.
Staci ended her note to me:
“I just wanted you to know how amazing these people are and to give them the recognition they deserve. The actions carried out by this department are why other people should become Anselmians, and why I am proud to have graduated from Saint Anselm College and to have been taught by these fantastic professors.”
As tragic as Staci’s experience was, what struck me most strongly about her story is this: Stories like this are not unique on the Hilltop. Whether we’re celebrating or rallying around those in need, the Saint Anselm community invariably acts with kindness, compassion and assistance above and beyond expectation or demand.
These generous responses by Dr. Wierda, Dr. Eyet, Dr. Penney and entire Chemistry department absolutely reflect this uncommon character. I am proud to call myself an Anselmian beside them, and proud to know that as a community, when we are faced with challenges that push our thinking and develop our characters, we will rise to every occasion.
Anselmian Now. Anselmian Then. Anselmian Always.