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Reader's Write

VQ’s new “Readers Write” column drew a good response with its debut assignment — a call for alumni to sing the virtues of faculty members who made differences in their lives. Dr. Donald Zarou ’56 takes the prize for our favorite letter, earning himself a copy of Professor Frank Bryan’s book Real Democracy.

NEXT ASSIGNMENT: UVM is in the thick of a construction boom and the campus is ripe with the promise of buildings future. Take a moment to reflect on buildings past and present, a place that meant the most to you during your UVM years — the dorm where a roommate became a lifelong friend; the study lounge where the wonders of the definite integral unfolded for you; the lab where, over a warm Petri dish, you first locked eyes with your future spouse.

Our favorite this time around will receive an 8 x 10 color print of a campus scene of your choice from UVM Photography Services. Please limit the text to 100 words or fewer. E-mail responses to vermontquarterly@uvm. edu or mail to Vermont Quarterly, 86 South Williams, Burlington, VT 05401.

I began my career at UVM in the fall of 1952, enrolled as a pre-med student with Dr. Lyman Rowell as my advisor. During my freshman year, at the age of 17, my sister, and then my father, died, both very unexpectedly. My family was concerned about future expenses and I considered leaving UVM to work. As it turned out, I took a job at Mary Fletcher Hospital as the short-order cook in the coffee shop and managed to work there 40 hours per week, around a full-time academic schedule, in addition to a second job, as the morgue attendant, on call, nights and weekends, for autopsies, also at MFH.

Nearing the end of my freshman year, Professor Rowell called me into his office and asked me, in essence, if there was anything other than medicine that I would be interested in pursuing as a career. Obviously, my grades did not indicate an “early or quick acceptance” to medical school. We then had a long talk and the conclusion was that if I wanted to “stay the course,” he would stay it with me.

I did graduate and I was accepted to medical school, SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn, NY. Professor Rowell made a difference because he took the time to listen to an insignificant freshman undergraduate, gambled with him, ignoring projected vital statistics in the pre-med program. He made a vast difference in the life of this student, as I am sure he did with countless others. He was a teacher and an advisor second to none.

Dr. Donald Zarou ’56
Brooklyn, New York

I arrived at UVM in the fall of 1976 as a music education major. I needed to find a piano teacher and she was to be Mrs. Elizabeth Metcalfe. Little did I know how important this fine lady would become in my life. I learned numerous lessons from her; however, the most important ones had nothing to do with teaching piano. By her example, Mrs. Metcalfe taught me how to carry myself with dignity and class, and she always treated everyone, from the worst musician to the most skilled player, with care and respect. I would like to think that I have carried on this tradition in my life and in my teaching.

Judy Tomasik McLaughlin ’80
Greensboro, North Carolina

In his Holocaust class, Raul Hilberg taught us many lessons about the nature of man and the power of bureaucracy. For me, his greatest contribution was causing me to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. In this powerful book I came to understand the inviolability of one’s mind and spirit: even in the face of great adversity, only you control your thoughts and how you choose to respond to events. This insight has been a great source of inner strength and a valuable lesson for me to pass on to my children.

Steve Stebbins ’83
Alexandria, Virginia

A “Fantastic Four” from the 50’s constitute my most inspiring professors. Sam Bogorad, Betty Bandel, and Muriel Hughes inspired me to teach English for forty years because of their scholarship and their attention to the needs of every student. Ailing band director Joe Lechnyr, at whose funeral I played taps, enriched my extra-curricular life at UVM and taught me to fight through adversity. All four were “of wondrous virtue.”

John Broza ’60
Glen Cove, New York

When I lived in Burlington back in 1986, my son attended the University of Vermont, and I was eager to take some classes just for the pleasure of learning and my own curiosity about life. One summer I enrolled in a wonderful class on nature writing. The professor was warm, open, and gave each of the students a chance to share, to debate, and most of all to observe the ordinary and unusual changes right in front of us.

One of the assigned readings was A Naturalist’s Sketchbook by Clare Walker Leslie. This journal inspired me to begin putting on paper my own observations and drawings during the summer and fall.

Sadly, I cannot remember the name of this teacher who gave me the desire to think and to ponder about our ever-changing universe. What remains is in my mind and heart. Good teachers do that kind of thing!

Nan Toby Tyrrell
Port Townsend, Washington