More Distinguished Alumni!

Mr. Brien McHugh's picture

This may a little long but I think it is well worth your time.

On Saturday, The Presidential Alumni Award was given to Brendan and Jessica (Saraga) Walsh, Mass Comm majors who graduated in 2005.

The College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award was given to Bob Zak, former student and educator in the Mass Communication department. Bob gave me his permission to re-publish his acceptance speech (minus the ad-libs.) It is, to me, what USF is all about:

"I am very honored to be receiving this award. Thank you to the University of St. Francis, Alumni Association and Board Members, College of Arts and Sciences, fellow alumni, faculty, administration and staff. Let me also take a moment to congratulate my fellow honorees. I am humbled to be in their company.

When I was young I dreamed of being on the radio. Radio was an important part of my life growing up in the 60s and 70s. I admired the legendary announcers such as Larry Lujack at WLS in Chicago and Frank O’Leary at WJOL in Joliet. They had an amazing ability to communicate, to entertain, educate. inform, and persuade. And they spoke to you like you had known them your whole life.

However, for me that dream of being on the radio would be a challenge. I was shy, introverted, and those awkward teen years further complicated things. And also not the best student in high school. In fact, there were a few times late at night, after receiving my report card, where I considered the pros and cons of creatively using a bottle of whiteout to change some of those C’s to A’s. But I didn’t do it. My Catholic guilt upbringing prevented that.

But then miraculously something happened. An amazing experience here at St. Francis. I had toured many colleges, but when I toured St. Francis I met Professor Rick Lorenc. Back them he had long hair that was longer than mine, a beard, he loved rock and roll, and I had heard he played the guitar. Well to me, there was just no one cooler on earth. He was nothing like the stern old professor in the movie ‘The Paper Chase’.

But beyond that….he had an energy, enthusiasm and passion for teaching, and for helping me and other students realize their goals. I found that enthusiasm and passion was shared by the whole faculty, staff….in fact, everyone at St. Francis. I was challenged, encouraged and motivated. I had found what I had long been searching for, to be part of a very special community. And much to everyone’s amazement, especially my own, the shy awkward C-student disappeared forever.

The choice of St. Francis was an easy one for me, as it was for my wife Christine, also a USF alumni. It was an easy choice for so many more people I have met over the years. And I could easily give a hundred reasons why St. Francis has been so important in my life and in the lives of so many others. But one reason stands out, I mentioned it before…the importance of community. It’s something everyone here feels. Something everyone treasures. And it’s also about extending that community outward and contributing to the world around us, using the talents USF helped you develop, and sharing and giving to others. Looking back, I don’t think I would have learned and experienced that lesson anywhere else but here at St. Francis. And taken away its great importance.

So in conclusion let me say Thank You to the USF Community. This honor means a great deal to me."

No, no...thank you, Bob.

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