Robert A. Hall (‘70)
In September of 1967, I returned from a tour of duty as a Marine in Vietnam and decided to leave the Corps, go to college, and get involved in politics. Though I graduated from High School in Collingswood, NJ, my parents were living in Lunenburg, MA. They said that if I wanted to go to college in the area, they would provide a roof, a bed, and meals if I was home at mealtime. The rest would depend on part time jobs and the GI Bill.
While home on leave, I went a local school to inquire about going to college. As a frequent-skipper in high school, my academic background, grades and image of myself as a scholar were all wanting. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I’d like to go to college.
Them: Have you taken the SAT?
Me: Ah, no.
Them: What were your high school grades like?
Me: I got some Cs.
Them: That’s not bad.
Me: But they were the big ones….
Them: (Taking back the application.) Have you heard of Mount Wachusett down in Gardner?
Five years later I was their state senator and they were talking to me about their budget….
And so I ended at the Mount as a Liberal Arts student. There I discovered that a little Marine discipline applied to studying was a wonderful thing.
I have great memories of the Mount. My first year, I ran for the student council, and, to everyone’s surprise, was elected, by a 4-vote margin. Since I hadn’t gone to high school in the area, I had no natural support group, but I found a lot of other students who weren’t in a group, and built support—a great political lesson.
My second year, I was re-elected to the student council, and elected council president, both by margins of ten votes or less.
Some of my memories of the Mount:
Playing for the chess team (recently my wife put my chess team WMCC “letter” on a sweater for me, as a joke). Beating Phil Leasure, the team’s faculty advisor, just once. Okay, he was talking on the phone, got distracted, and made a bad move. A win is a win!
Pete Tandy’s very funny jokes in class, which wouldn’t meet today’s PC requirements on most campuses. A friend and I enter one of Pete’s classes a bit late one day, having stopped for a few beers, to find him lecturing on alcohol problems!
Col. Joe Ruth’s frequent Marine motivating talks.
John McLaughlin (the Iron Major!) sternly teaching history and politics classes. John was a political mentor and strong supporter of my later political campaigns.
Paul Drowne’s book of poetry—and many horseshoe championships.
First Sam O’Neil and then, for three semesters, Dario Valdez helping me limp through Spanish, my worst subject.
Leah Knowlton’s relentless focus on composition—for four semesters—which contributed immensely to the success I’ve enjoyed in recent years as a part-time freelance writer.
Giving out beer mugs instead of letters or awards the year I was Student Council President.
Cards in the cafeteria. The outdoor bonfires at the site of the present campus.
A couple of sweet girls I dated, several others I wish I’d dated, and at least one I regretted not calling for years, after she gave me her number at graduation.
Working two jobs (36 hours per week) the fall semester my sophomore year, carrying 17 credits with a 3.6 GPA, serving as student council president and helping organize a congressional campaign in my town. Whew! It was nice to be young.
After graduation in 1970, I moved on to U-Mass. There I served in the student senate, after a 7-vote victory. I graduated with a degree in Government in June of 1972, and was already involved in my first campaign for state senator against a well-known, Democratic incumbent—in a district that hadn’t elected a Republican since 1938. On graduation day, I was knocking on doors.
The turning point of that campaign was a heated debate held at MWCC, broadcast on Gardner cable TV. It was so heated in fact, that it was rebroadcast throughout the district. On election night, I overcame an early 2,000-vote deficit to emerge ahead at 6:30 am with a margin of 9 votes, out of 60,000 cast. After five elections with victories of 10 votes or less, I was starting to see a pattern!
Thankfully, I won my next four elections by wide margins, never less then 10,000 votes, never losing any city or town after the first election. In 1976, I was even nominated by both parties, winning the Democratic nomination on write-in votes. In 1980, I picked up an MEd in history from FSC, so all was forgiven. I have to say that the level of instruction at the Mount compared favorably with that at U-Mass and FSC.
Early in my last term, I recognized the signs of burnout and decided not to seek reelection. I retired in 1982, and was offered the position of Executive Director of the Florida Psychological Association, in Tallahassee. During my eleven years in Tallahassee, I developed an interest in Scottish Country Dancing, so this MWCC Highlander often wears a kilt today. I also met my bride, Bonnie—we were married in 1992—when she came to a dance class I was teaching. Two years ago, her daughter Julie made me a grandfather, so the years do catch up. But our granddaughter, Britnye, is the joy of my heart.
I’ve been managing associations for over 20 years now, and in July of 2002, we moved to Madison, WI, where I’m now Executive Director of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. (We have a wonderful program to restore the smiles of victims of domestic violence. Check our website at www.aacd.com.)
I consider myself to be both well educated and a success in life. I owe that success first to the discipline of the Marines and second, to the educational foundation created at MWCC.
I would love to hear from classmates and faculty. I can be reached through the AACD website. –Bob
Ken writes that he first came to the Mount in 1968 and became the President for the Class of 1970. Ken returned in 1973, graduating in 1974. He was a Student Council Member, and a Student Member of the New College Building Committee.
Ken majored in Liberal Arts/ General Studies and is currently employed by Resource Management Inc. as a Sales Representative. RMI is a professional employer organization providing Human Resource Services to small to mid-size Businesses.
According to Ken, “In the early days at ‘The Mount’ (the days of Arthur Haley, John Hogan, John Bassett, and a host of others) we used to quote/paraphrase Daniel Webster who said ‘It’s a small school, but there are those of us who love it.’
He also recalls the Homecoming bonfires at the present site of football fields, Tom Rush in concert, the downstairs cafeteria at the Elm Street campus, the last graduation at the Elm Street campus, and finally…being the President of the Class (1970) and not graduating!!
“When I returned to the Mount in 1973 after a tour in Vietnam, one of my fellow classmates from the Class of 1970, Bob Hall was State Senator. I joined his staff in the Massachusetts State Senate upon Graduation in 1974, becoming his Legislative Assistant and then his Administrative Assistant (which would now be called Chief of Staff) when he was promoted to a Minority Party leadership position,” Ken stated.
“I worked with him (Senator Hall) from 1974-1980. During that time, we worked in concert with then State Representative Raymond LaFontaine to ensure that the needs of MWCC were met. Frequently during that period, the budget would be under-funded. We were successful in every case in restoring or adding funds necessary for the operation of the college,” he stated.
Ronald E. Cormier (‘75)
Ron is a graduate of the nursing program at the College. In 1991, he returned to college and graduating from the University of Maine in 1994. In 1997, he received a Masters in from Husson College.
Aroostook Pediatrics in Presque Isle, ME currently employs Ron as a Family Nurse Practitioner, where he provides preventive and episodic care to the pediatric population in a three-physician practice.
Ron remembers spending his first year driving to classes all over town. However, it was worth it, he notes, “as we were the first class to graduate from the new campus.”
Andrea, who was a Human Services major while she was at the Mount, lives in New Hampshire. She’s working for Shaw’s Supermarkets on the reset team, traveling from store to store making.
Once we get it up and running Andrea would like to part of mentor program at the College.
Brenda lives in New Hampshire and has 26 years in commercial broadcasting, in radio, and meteorology. She received her BA in sociology at Keene State in 2001 and is currently working on a Masters degree in counseling.
Brenda writes, “I miss all the media courses with Vinnie Ialenti.
He’s the best! I am making a mid life career change due to family…but my passion is still broadcasting and film. I intend to dabble in the field even when I complete my Masters.”
Joanne currently works as a substitute teacher at Fox Chapel, Hampton, and North Allegheny School Districts in Pennsylvania.
She remembers “Shirleen Smith and Professor Trudeau in French, Dr. Bassett changing his attendance policies due to my tardiness, Chorus, friends among the theater regulars, a picture of my boots while reading the Harbinger, and my 1988 wedding picture in the newsletter.”
Joanne is married to Eric J. Beckman, Professor & Department Chair, Chemical Engineering Dept., University of Pittsburgh. Her daughter Ariane is 10 years old; son, Austen is age 8 years. Following graduation at the Mount Joanne went on to Umass. She received her Masters from the University of Pittsburg.