By Kate Broderick, Global Strategic Communication ’13
My great-grandfather lived in a sleepy Pennsylvanian town, Mauch Chunk (“Bear Mountain” in Algonquian). He was one of 16 children and with an education stopping at second grade, he spent his entire life working on the railroad. As an Irish Catholic immigrant in a German Protestant town with a history of hanging, torturing, and imprisoning Irish workers, he often was confronted with persecution and injustice. As a decidedly second-class citizen, he nonetheless faced life with an unshakeable work ethic and dedication to ensuring the welfare of his family, friends, and neighbors. When the Great Depression got its claws into America, the town was hit extremely hard leaving many families without a hope of regularly feeding their children. Banding together, the community would share what they had to ensure everybody was well-fed and thus, they managed to limp along together and pull through.
When my grandfather was born, they knew he was something special. He was something of a local hero, becoming the first of the Irish Catholics of Mauch Chunk to attend college—a community achievement, as the community pooled their savings together to send him to university. He would graduate summa cum laude, serve in the Air Force during the Korean War, and graduate with honors from Georgetown University with his degree in medicine. During his residency, he acquired a reputation for being able to accurately diagnose rare and bizarre diseases by catching an outbreak of anthrax when only an intern. We would later become Chief of Radiology and Chief of Staff at Arlington Hospital, doctor to the Redskins football team, and Dean and professor at Georgetown.
My grandfather never forgot his roots—he established the free clinics in Washington D.C., requiring that the staff of Arlington Hospital donate hours at the clinics to provide healthcare to the desperately impoverished of inner-city D. C.; moreover, he always shared what he had with those in need—not as an act of charity, but as an act of empowerment. He stressed the importance of education and always ensured that I had whatever I could possibly need to succeed in school.
The principle of college is simple—essentially, you are sent somewhere to learn things. Teaching methods don’t radically change from place to place (although some may think so). Florida Tech was not the first college I attended—I transferred here my first semester freshman year. I’ve taken summer classes elsewhere, and completed my first master’s in a university in Europe. I know what other colleges are like, which is why I feel comfortable and qualified in saying: Florida Tech is special.
Legends from my family history continually stress the importance of striving to be the best version of yourself, of working hard, and of never leaving anybody behind. My great-grandfather and grandfather advocated a strong sense of interdepence, of the necessity of having a strong community, of success measured by pride in your work rather than material rewards. The atmosphere at Florida Tech (particularly with my experiences with the Department of Humanities and Communication!) is unique that it doesn’t stress quick-ways to get ahead, or do-or-die competition among the students. We all work together and we all pull each other along. We are a strong community that cares about each other, celebrating our successes together and providing the helping hand when we stumble along the way. I feel proud of my accomplishments at Florida Tech and regardless of where my degrees lead me financially, I can breathe easily knowing that I have worked hard and earned my grades while studying topics that I love.
I feel very fortunate to have studied under professors with unwavering ethics. Working in the front office of the Humanities and Communication department has provided and “insider’s glimpse” of the powers-that-be behind the Humanities and Communication department—and everything I have witnessed has only reconfirmed the unshakeable ethics and commitment to the students of our professors. The education at Florida Tech is so much more than pulling facts from a book—it’s teaching you how to be human.
If my great-grandfather and grandfather could have seen me studying at Florida Tech, I know they would have been proud: Florida Tech embodies everything that they cherished.