Academic Ceremonies - December Celebration
Remarks: Jon Reidel,
Staff Council Vice President
Good morning. My name is Jon Reidel and I’m Vice President of Staff Council. I’m honored to be here representing the approximately 2,000 hard working staff members at the University of Vermont.
As a staff member in University Communications I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and writing about students like you, alumni, faculty and staff for various UVM publications. Every so often I come across an extraordinary individual who redefines the way I previously viewed the world around me.
One such person is longtime UVM staff member Clay Warren, a utilities trades supervisor in the physical plant department, who started working at UVM in 1961 for a $1 an hour. Clay has spent much of his 48 years here fixing things for students like you, fellow staff members and faculty. He’s done a few other things as well – like take more than 100 classes at UVM – enough credits for two-and-a-half bachelor’s degrees – in subjects ranging from geology to religion to thermodynamics to philosophy. When not in class or working, Clay can be found playing racquetball or working out at a UVM athletic facility – unless it’s during the summer when he uses his vacation time to travel to Alaska’s Katmai (CAT-my) National Park where he works as part of a research team studying bears.
Seven years after Clay started working at UVM, a first-year student by the name of Susan Hanna arrived on campus in the fall of 1968 when women had curfews, were required to wear skirts to dinner and needed a male student to escort them to the library. When Susan eventually graduated with a degree in economics, the only jobs available for women in banking were as tellers.
After cashing her first check and finding herself with only $3 left after paying the rent, she knew she had to find something better. Susan would eventually take advantage of a rare opportunity to enter a bank-training program, which resulted in countless 70-hour work weeks, but also job offers previously reserved for men. Hannah, whose son Brian is scheduled to graduate from UVM in May, is now the managing director of GE Capital Americas.
“A lot of things have changed since I graduated,” said Hanna at an event organized by the School of Business Administration featuring successful women alumna working in the world of finance. “But you still have to work hard and take advantage of any openings to move ahead. Luck is a lot of it but you have to see where the luck is presenting itself and jump into it. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you or it’s not going to happen.”
Clay Warren and Susan Hanna have taken different paths in life – one fixing things and expanding his mind at the University of Vermont – the other in New York City chipping away at the glass ceiling of the financial world. Both took full advantage of the opportunities around them, however, and have richer lives for it.
The staff members of the University of Vermont hope you do the same wherever you choose to pursue your own path. Congratulations to you all!
Last modified December 22 2009 08:55 AM