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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Math Geek Mom: “Dizzy”
October 11, 2012 - 6:46pm

The calculus behind Economics teaches that consumers make choices so as to equalize the marginal utility per dollar spent on each of the last of different types of items purchased. Although I believe this, I was reminded recently of what I think is often an alternative decision rule I heard years ago that might better describe the way cash constrained students make decisions when seeking places for dining out. Recalling those days when I was thinner and broke, I recall trying to eat at places that gave me the maximum calories per dollar. I recalled this recently when I heard news about a fellow graduate student who was part of a group that dined out often. As I learned recently, his life has taken an interesting turn.

When I and another graduate student at B.C. approached the office of Campus Ministry in the late 1980s to ask them where graduate students fit into their mission, we were given a list of priests on campus who were also graduate students as well as the use of a chapel that was otherwise empty on Sunday nights. With that start, a community of graduate students evolved that met for services on Sunday nights. We usually ended the evening at one of the inexpensive restaurants near campus that catered to cash-challenged students.

While I recall many of the priests who came by to say mass for us over the years, I have to admit that I have lost touch with most of them. There are two, however, who especially come to mind when I think of those days. I ran into one several years later, after he earned his Ph.D. and left the priesthood to marry a woman who became my dear friend. They eventually asked me and my husband to be godparents to their youngest child.

Another was named Kevin Gillespie, who, part arm of Campus Ministry and part fellow grad student, became an important member of our graduate student community and, in many ways, our fearless leader in those years. Recalling a singer named “Dizzy Gillespie”, many of us gave Kevin the nickname “Dizzy”.

While he did not participate in all of the events planned by the graduate student community, he was there for many of them, often ready to turn a pot luck supper into an impromptu mass, which sometimes took place in someone’s living room or on the lawn behind my apartment. One woman said the experience of the graduate student community was the “most powerful experience of “Church” she had ever encountered”; and she was a vowed Religious Sister! If I could give my daughter only one gift in life, it is that she someday experience the fellowship of such a community.

He was often quite the older brother, ready with advice and support as we approached graduation and the search for a job. I recall him reminding me of the Jesuit idea of “magis”, meaning “more” when commitments I had made to volunteering began to interfere with my efforts to write my dissertation (on, of all things, volunteer labor.) He advised me that the most important thing I could do at that point in my life was write my dissertation. And so I did, and, in those “good old days” before the market crashed, was able to find a job that year.

When I ended up in the hospital only weeks after moving to Cleveland, he wrote to a friend who was a physician in the hospital where I was staying. Thanks to her, my parents and I had someone to help us navigate being a patient in a large hospital where things can get very confusing very fast. I am not sure I would have survived that time had my family and I not had a knowledgeable guide to help us through. I will be forever grateful to him for his indirect assistance in those days.

The last contact I had with Kevin was when he was heading to Maryland for a faculty position at Loyola University of Maryland. I learned only recently that he left there to spend some time in Chicago. He has since left Chicago and now calls Philadelphia his home, where he is being sworn in today as the new President of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. And so, Father Kevin Gillespie, S.J., (AKA “Dizzy”) Congratulations and Good Luck as you assume this new, awesome responsibility. Your friends from Boston College are SO proud of you!


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