It’s an impressive network of educational institutions -- Boston College, Creighton, Fordham, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount, Loyola-Chicago, Loyola-New Orleans, Marquette, Regis, Saint Louis University, Santa Clara, University of San Francisco, and several more. Jesuit education is highly-respected, and rightly so. I will always be tremendously grateful for having had the opportunity to attend Saint Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, as well as two Jesuit universities -- Santa Clara and USF.
I completed my undergrad work at Santa Clara in 1979. As an English major, with an emphasis in writing, I was challenged to be creative, to write well, to edit my work, and to test the limits of my abilities. Never did I think that my favorite English course would be Renaissance Literature. It was in this course that I received what I thought might be the most challenging assignment in my life -- to write a perfect Shakespearean sonnet. I was required to follow the strict rules of a sonnet regarding meter, rhyme scheme, and form. The sonnet had to present both a problem and a solution. Until I sat down to write it, I didn’t think it would be possible. It was. I did… in 35 minutes! It was then that I realized that I have a gift for writing poetry.
Driving home following my last final exam at Santa Clara, I remember thinking that I would never again have to sit in a classroom, take notes, listen attentively, write term papers, or take exams. Little did I know that just three years later, I would enroll in a Master’s program at USF.
The USF program was designed for those who were already in administrative roles in their schools, or those who planned to take on such leadership roles in the future. The program, part of the Institute for Catholic Educational Leadership, focused specifically on private school administration. It was an excellent program. I learned quite a bit about school leadership, curriculum and instruction, finance, school law, personnel leadership, and spirituality. By the end of the program, however, it was clear that I had little interest in leaving the classroom to assume a leadership role in a school.
In August 1984, two months after my USF graduation, I began my work at Saint Lawrence in Santa Clara. For the first ten years at Saint Lawrence, my role in our high school was somewhat limited. The bulk of my job had me involved in a variety of pastoral ministries -- catechetical, youth and young adult, adult education, and liturgy for children. Though I was not a school administrator, many of the skills I learned in the USF program were put to good use in my role as Pastoral Associate for the parish. In August 1994, I transitioned into full-time work in the parish high school. Even there, as a teacher, department head, and, for a brief time, Director of Athletics, I was able to apply what I had learned at USF.
I’m grateful for the Jesuit education I received. I’m also grateful that my son, Tom, and his wife, Hillaray, both graduated with their Master’s Degrees from USF. I know they are well-prepared to take on the many challenges of their jobs.