This month at RMU, and at hundreds of colleges across the country, students began their new semester looking over new syllabi, planning new schedules, and mapping out which nights they will have to devote completely to studying and which will allow perhaps a little room to socialize and relax. Professors peered at the new faces in their classes and tried to make sure to keep their names straight. For seniors, a big realization hit home: Commencement is coming, and then, out they will go into the real world.
To you and me, May seems like a long way away, particularly with the weather we’ve been having. But think back to your last semester at college. Has time ever flown by so quickly as it did then? For college students, this realization of the rapidly dwindling weeks left until commencement reinforces the deeper reality creeping in — they are adults now.
Many of you joined me last month at the annual President’s Council dinner at Heinz Field, where we introduced you to 17 of these fine young adults on the verge of graduation. They were the finalists for our Rising Star Award, which each year recognizes a senior who has demonstrated academic success, individuality, determination, passion, and potential. These students typify the RMU experience of today, with finalists from Monroeville and North Huntingdon, Aliquippa and Altoona, Maryland and Michigan, even Athens. As she graciously accepted the award, Gabriella Gasparich reminded all those in the hall that she owes much of her success to your generosity. And she explained how that fact inspires her.
“I sincerely look forward to giving back to RMU one day, as all of you do,” Gabriella told us. “Your continued dedication to the university is inspiring to all of us who feel just as passionate about the education and the memories we received from RMU. Your support of Robert Morris University is essential to our lives and to our futures, and I would like to extend a thank you to all of you on behalf of all the students at RMU.” As Gabriella and her classmates count down the days until spring, I feel confident the university has equipped them with the necessary tools to succeed and thrive, whatever their calling may be. Beyond the satisfaction it brings to an educator to play a role in changing someone’s life, I am also confident that the achievements of our alumni — and their affection for and support of RMU — are the best advertising we could ever have.
We also presented David Lancia ’79 M’86, tax market leader and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a key member of our Board of Trustees, with the Heritage Award, our highest recognition for an alumnus. Reflecting on his college education, and why it motivated him decades later to give back to his alma mater, David said, “Robert Morris believed in me, and that made a big difference for me.”
I look forward to when Gabriella and others in her class come back to Robert Morris as proud alumni wanting to help the next generation of students, just as David does, and as you do. Your continued support allows us to offer all our students more opportunities for success.
May you have a rewarding 2014!
Gregory G. Dell’Omo, Ph.D.
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