Saint John's Magazine Summer/Fall 2014

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My Perspective

As many of you know, the Paint Shop burned down this January. Fortunately, no one was hurt. At first we thought the fire was about a building. And of course it was. We lost an important historical building and the property inside it. But it was also about something else: the Benedictine residential experience and its value for community. When news of the fire got out, memories from alumni who had been student workers on the paint crew began pouring in. It became clear that their experiences as part of this work team had been as significant as anything else they’d done here. This was in large part because their supervisor, Rob Stoeckel of the physical plant staff, considered himself just as responsible for their formation as our professors and faculty residents do in their domains. He took a genuine interest in them—listening, mentoring and creating a supportive work community. He isn’t the only supervisor like this at SJU. The many staff, faculty and monks who supervise students realize that part of what it means to supervise student workers in a Benedictine institution is to attend to their students’ growth and development as well as to oversee their work. Alumni have shared with me all kinds of anecdotes about the importance of their work-study experiences. One recounts that his job in a campus office taught him writing, organizational and administrative skills that were extremely useful to him during a London internship, when he was tasked with curating a large exhibition at a contemporary gallery. “I’m not sure how I might have met that challenge without the training from my campus job,” he says. A former student worker from my office attributes his knowledge of domestic tasks like washing dishes to the

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Steve Woit

Michael Hemesath ’81, President

guidance of his wise supervisors. I thought he was joking until I met his appreciative wife who assured me that he was in earnest! Another alumnus calls his work-study job “the most formative aspect of my time at CSB and SJU” and praised his supervisor as being “overwhelmingly responsible for the person who I am now.” These stories are powerful reminders that in a community like Saint John’s, all of our staff are deeply engaged in the life of the community and are committed to our students’ growth and well-being. You can read more about this in our feature on the Paint Shop (p.16). And if you have a student work experience you’d like to share, I’d love to hear it. Send it to me at sjpresident@csbsju.edu.