Tell us about a faculty member whose instruction, guidance, or mentorship has had a significant personal or professional influence on your life. What was the impact?Back to Your Stories
In 1973, during the Dijon semester abroad, French Professor Ferlito helped me fashion a semester abroad to learn German. I became interested after visiting Colgate classmates who were studying at the time in Freiburg, Germany. Since then, I have worked for German firms for more than 40 years, worked in Germany for five years, translated or supervised the translation of more than 11,000 German patent applications for filing at the U.S. Patent Office, been offered a position at the USPTO, and been awarded the Berger Prize, the top prize in the United States in scientific and technical translation in all languages. I owe it all to Lawrence Hall, the German Center there, and Professor Ferlito!
The two faculty member I remember so fondly are Anthony Aveni (astronomy) and Robert Linsley (geology). They both made learning fin and rewarding, not drudgery.
I remember the time Professor Aveni was teaching us about "blink microsopes". You take two pictures of the same part of the sky a day or more apart and then flash them back and forth. Things that move are likely planets or asteroids. Background stars tend to stay in the same place.
He dummied up a couple and announced he'd discovered a new planet. We were asked to submit names for the new planet. All entries to be printed on the back of a cereal box top.
I wanted to thank my two orgo Professors! Prof. Ernie Nolen and Prof. Kristopher Waynant inspired me to work hard, research lots and run hard! I've spent endless hours in my last year and a half at Colgate in the chem lab with peers I call my best friends now, doing homework, laughing or purifying sugars with very few worries about life after Colgate. Because if there's anything I learned there, it's that I can write essays, work 12 hour days, teach and interact with wonderful people, and run half marathons on the weekend. My short list of thanks is actually not that short since Prof. Woods, Prof. Shen (chem) and Prof. Schult (math) have given me endless support in my transition to grad school while instilling great love for differential equations.
Some time in 1981, I was in the introductory Economics course, taught by Professor Ho. I had pretty much decided that I wanted to study Psychology, but as I recall, I figured that in all likelihood I'd end up in the business world and the course would be useful. My parents were far from rich, and I made a point of attending every class. To my chagrin, I soon discovered that Economics was a subject that eluded me, and no matter how hard I studied I was struggling. Finally, I went to Dr. Ho during his office hours. He listened as I explained my situation, and that I was trying hard: "Just look, Professor, I never miss a class and I hand everything in. It's just that I don't seem to grasp it". He looked at me for a few seconds and said "OK, you come to very class right? You turn in every assignment right?" I nodded. He said "Keep doing that. Try your hardest. You will do OK". I kept my part of the bargain. He kept his. I don't know to this day if he kept an eye on me, but the truth is, I left the final - for which I put in long hours of study - anything but sure I had passed. But when I got my grades, I got a "C" for the course. Dr. Ho gave me a hugely important lesson in life, which I have often passed on to my children: Show up. Do your best. Hand everything in on time. Someone is watching, and no-one should fail you if you do your level best and show it. On another note, he made me realize how many levels there are of learning. Dr. Ho taught me to not give up on myself, and that grades are not everything. Effort counts too. In business I never penalized anyone that was clearly doing their best but struggling. Sometimes a different job in the same company was all it took for them to succeed. And a boss that recognized maybe they weren't going to get an "A" but shouldn't get an "F".
I was fortunate to have had Huntington Terrell as an instructor and mentor. His passion for philosophy was unparalleled .. as he conducted class this was abundantly clear - he was at once both spellbinding and provocative. He taught us to question always and never accept established rules and principles at face value. In Ethics class he brought the importance of moral fortitude to life. My mindset was forever altered. I have since been a leader of HR in large, global organizations where Hunt’s lessons have served me well. Most recently I was appointed Chief Compliance Officer for a medical device company. He was one of a kind - iconic and courageous - and he is missed.
Professor Karen Harpp has made my Colgate experience. One day, I was having a personal crisis and was trying to deal with it by asking her for advice. She sent me paragraphs over texts calming me down, giving me advice, and reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. She made me feel appreciated and inspired and stopped my tears. And I texted her back, "Are you in your office? I want to come give you a hug and thank you in person." She responds, "No actually I'm in a submarine hundreds of meters below the ocean off the coast of the Galapagos. I'm about to go on air for the segment I'm doing for BBC but I'll text you later." I have never felt so loved. This incredible woman is not just inspiring academically, but also personally as well which is not something my friends at other schools have. She will forever be my role model.
Professor Heather Roller's inspirational scholarship and dedicated mentorship led my daughter (Katherine Bundy '20) to apply for a grant from the Lampert Foundation to do a summer independent study in Bogota, Colombia that was life-changing on every level.