“The spark divine dwells in thee: let it grow.” ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox
My mentor, the late Barbara Hoffman, used to refer to her writing students as “stars.” It didn’t matter if you were the best writer in class or the one who needed the most encouragement—if Barbara said you were a star, you were a star. What you did with such a dazzling moniker was up to you, but she regularly reminded each of us to shine accordingly. Only years later do I fully realize Barbara’s motive: providing the initial sparks of support, enthusiasm, and confidence, so we could finally see ourselves the way she saw us.
I have read countless studies about Marywood’s community impact and know impressive statistics about the University’s educational credentials, yet no report means as much as hearing a student say, “If it wasn’t for my professor’s encouragement, I might have quit.” Graphs and charts can’t compare to the joy parents feel when their special needs child learns to communicate better because of support from one or more of our community clinics.
Marywood University educates, serves, and inspires others to realize their full potential, and we make the community a better place in the process. There are plenty of measurable outcomes to support that claim, but it’s the immeasurable ones that validate these efforts.
This issue aims to capture some of these meaningful Marywood connections—from individuals to community initiatives—and share some of them with you. As Barbara knew well, the spark of excellence means little unless it is recognized, shared, and allowed to shine.
SHERYL LYNN SOCHOKA