In This Together: Edition 7

Costumed care-home partners, a gift of masks from Japan, MOVE keeps serving , chemistry magic, Commencement mugs and dogs -- and more news from a time of pandemic

May 15, 2020
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

In this LogoStaff in the College’s Marketing & Communications office are continuing to find and post stories from our community during these uncommon times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve invited anybody among us to share whatever from their daily lives might inspire and make us feel connected, from the more serious to the whimsical. Please continue to share your news items, however seemingly small. We also welcome broader updates from your offices, departments and homes. Thanks to everyone who shared the following submissions and community snapshots. Keep them coming – email to

Kirby students go extra mile for Care Home friends

Katie Kirby of the philosophy faculty explains how she and her students kept an important connection alive between her students and the community this past semester, despite restrictions inherent to the coronavirus pandemic: (item continues below photo)Katie costume zoom

“My PH 351 Otherness and Marginalization wore costumes to class [one week at the end of April]. The idea happened the week before, when 2 students came back from a breakout session during our Zoom class wearing a sharks head and a wig.  On the spot we decided we’d all wear costumes for the next class, so I included it with the assignment for Monday, April 27. lady at window

We did the whole class in our costumes, except for those who couldn’t speak through their costumes. That same day, for the same class, a few of us went over to St. Joseph’s Residential Care Home, where we’ve been partnered with 16 residents this semester, and we stood outside, played music, held up signs, and danced with them through their windows. We wanted to let them know that we love them and we miss them since isolation began.

Three students were able to participate, because they are still in Vermont – Dante Wentz ‘20, Jaron Bernire ‘21, and Lindsay St. Pierre, ‘20. This class has been a great example of the possibility of creating community through online platforms.  We’d all much rather be in the classroom together, but we’ve made it work.  We’ve had a lot of great, insightful, challenging conversation, and we’ve also had a lot of fun and laughs and connection.  I love the students in this class. We drove to St. Joe’s separately, of course. The best of St. Mike’s!”


Incoming student sends masks from Japan

Kevin Spensley, the College’s chief international officer, shares a nice story: “Anne Otsuka, who is an admitted student from Japan (FA2020), and her mother made 100 purple and gold masks for Saint Michael’s College, and sent some photos of their production. Anne is from Kori Nevers Gakuin Senior High School in Osaka, Japan. Japan masks

She was referred to us by the Sakae Institute of Tokyo. Doug Babcock (the College’s director of public safety) confirmed that he could use the masks, and they are on their way from Japan—at Anne’s expense. Another international mask story is that University Abroad (UA) sent us 1,000 surgical masks. These arrived a few weeks ago, and Doug has been distributing them where needed to the campus. UA is an American-Chinese company which founded the International Education Consortium, of which Saint Michael’s College is a member. UA has an office on campus and it is run by Cait Huseman.”  Babcock reported receiving this generous gift that came halfway around the world from the Otsukas this week, and he was quite happy about it: “Today (Tuesday, May 12) I received a box with 115 individually packaged purple and gold cloth face masks from incoming first year student Anne Otsuka,”  he wrote, observing that such a generous gift is a helpful start on the  many more masks that his agency will be hoping to stockpile before students arrive back on campus in the fall if plans allow. Kevin says he hopes to perhaps hand these new purple and gold masks out to the new international students whenever they arrive for orientation. He’s expecting between 20 to 40 students to be in that group currently, including Anne Otsuka.


MOVE achieves many goals despite obstacles

Lara Scott

Lara Scott

Lara Scott, director of MOVE (Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts), recently shared more accomplishments by the volunteers of the volunteer service organization with Edmundite Campus Ministry, even though they have largely taken their work online because of the pandemic.

She said the recent graduates from the Class of 2020 were a particularly impressive group. Some recent highlights for MOVE volunteers: The MOVE COTS Walk team raised $425 this year for Burlington-based Committee on Temporary Shelter, even though this year it had to be a ‘virtual walk. Lara was a guest speaker along the “walk,” and she spoke of “how grateful we are to call COTS a MOVE community partner. Sunday was a beautiful day for a virtual walk!” Also, Civil Rights Alliance within MOVE created a final newsletter with updates on COVID-19 and its effects on different communities that MOVE serves. Lara notes that some MOVE students are joining the Mercy Earth Challenge of the Sisters of Mercy celebrating Laudato Si, the papal encyclical on the environment: “We begin Mercy Earth Challenge by deepening our understanding of and responses to Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si as we near its five-year anniversary May 24,” she said. “Over each of six weeks, we provide a quote from the text, a spiritual resource, an educational piece, and a call to action…”; Lara also drew attention to the opportunity of Franciscan Mission Service Webinars for students or faculty who are passionate about living in solidarity with those on the margins while building cross-cultural relationships, or want to help advance social justice in the Washington, D.C., community.  Franciscan Mission Service was/will be hosting informational webinars on its programs: one was on DC Service Corps, and one on Overseas Lay Mission still upcoming on May 20 5-6  p.m. If you are interested email Lara @


Of dogs and mugs at Virtual Commencement

Commencement brought a host of happy individual moments at student homes where they watched Sunday’s virtual ceremony, and some fun details came to us afterward.croce dog

Wrote Allison Croce’ 20, “I graduated yesterday in Religious Studies, and I am sharing a photo of my sweet pup, Daisy. She lived on campus with me and was a delight to all, so after I turned my tassel, it was time to award Daisy with her own “cap” for her studies! She was featured in the graduation slideshow too!”

In another Virtual-Commencement-related story, a sharp eye by Brian Lee of the College’s Student Life office noticed something behind the undergraduate speaker Maura Dodge during her recorded talk for Virtual Commencement.Mug shot

He shared, “For some reason, my eye caught a glimpse of this mug on the mantle behind Maura Dodge during her commencement speech yesterday. I mentioned it in our staff meeting this morning and Kerri Leach, who is close with Maura, confirmed it this afternoon. Not sure if you or anyone else noticed it but thought I’d point it out – it reads ‘Saint Michael’s College/P-Day 1980.’ Her dad is an alum!”


Heroux magically provides annual ‘tricks’

It was great this week to see another spring tradition at St. Mike’s creatively honored in the virtual world for a taste of normalcy during this unusual semester, with the posting by Chemistry Professor Dave Heroux of a YouTube video featuring his trademark chemistry “magic tricks.”Heroux on YouTube

In normal years, Dave’s students present for an annually popular live event. Here’s the introductory language to the video: “Join Dr. David Heroux, Chemistry Department Chair and Associate Professor of Chemistry at Saint Michael’s College, for a jaw-dropping magic show fueled solely by the properties of chemistry – and a bit of talent from Dr. Heroux himself!  A few key words to investigate for kids to investigate during this chemistry magic show are: chemistry, periodic table, elements, combustion, catalyst, cellulose. Are you looking to do a few safe experiments with chemistry at home? Check out Kids & Chemistry from the American Chemical Society at the following link:…”


Karen Dunmire ’86 on COVID front lines

The St. Mike’s Alumni Office in recent weeks posted about an alumna worth sharing again about here for her work on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

Karen Dunmire ’86, fourth from left in first photo, works as an R.N. at Boston Medical Center in their mother and baby unit. Many of her patients have drug and alcohol issues, chronic health problems, and housing instabilities, which adds to the level of care she and her colleagues most provide. Karen says “I love what I do so much, I believe in the work that our hospital does in caring for those who need it most…”  The first photo features Karen with her fellow “night shift peeps” as she lovingly calls them.

Karen also shared the second photo, her senior Saint Michael’s portrait, in honor of all graduates of the Class of 2020 anywhere this year in such challenging times, including in her own family though not from St Mike’s.




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