It’s one thing to embrace the College of the Holy Cross mission statement — it’s another to embody it in everything you do. Once every year, the College honors five alumni who have made significant impact in their fields and have dedicated themselves to living the College’s mission with Sanctae Crucis Awards, the highest non-degree accolade the College bestows upon alumni. The 2019 distinguished recipients of the award are: Kate Curran ’85; Timothy L. Porter ’68; Jane Ryder ’82; Dr. David E. Wazer, M.D. ’78; and Benjamin Zawacki ’97.
The honorees spread out among different classrooms and communities, sharing advice, wisdom and memories of life on The Hill. We caught up with these impressive alumni to listen in on what has resonated in their education and to hear the surprising ways that their Holy Cross days ripple through their work.
Kate Curran is the founder and CEO of School the World, an international education organization dedicated to bringing quality education to the world’s poorest and most marginalized children. Since its founding in 2007, School the World has built 91 schools and 49 playgrounds in two countries, created 401 classroom libraries, empowered 5,986 parents as “first educators,” extensively trained 392 teachers and served over 9,858 children. Prior to founding School the World, Curran was an executive and attorney at GE Capital, where she served as vice president for external affairs. Read more about Kate Curran.
“When I started the high school student service learning program for School the World, it was my Holy Cross friends and their children who really helped. I founded School the World in 2009 and it was at my 25th Holy Cross reunion that we had our first fundraiser. It was three in the morning, behind one of the residence halls, and two of my friends were like, ‘Yeah, I think we can help you with that. I think we can have a party — I think we can raise some money.’ We’ve now taken 800 high school students to these schools since 2013 and we have core towns that send large numbers of students — all because of Holy Cross students.”
Timothy L. Porter is the former vice president and chief counsel for labor, employment and environment at AT&T, where he worked as an attorney for over 20 years. Porter is a member of the Board of Directors of the Life Insurance Company of Boston and New York, a trustee of The New School, a former board director of the AT&T Investment Management Company (ATTIMCO), and a former trustee of Holy Cross. An accomplished mandolinist, Mr. Porter is also chairman of the board of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Read more about Timothy L. Porter.
“My involvements at Holy Cross were across several disciplines. And by disciplines I don’t mean just courses; I mean extracurricular activities, as well. That interdisciplinary, interconnected approach is one that I’ve carried with me throughout my life, allowing me to search for connections between things that might appear to be relatively disparate. That approach of looking for the wholeness of things is something I continue to do to this day.”
Jane Ryder is the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, which creates opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to contribute and participate as valued members of their communities. In her 24-year career with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Ms. Ryder has been instrumental in the implementation of waiver enrollment, promotion of shared living and self-direction, and improvement of consistency of practice across the state of Massachusetts. Read more about Jane Ryder.
“Holy Cross had a huge influence on my career. I was just sharing with a group of students that one of my classes as a student was on public policy. The professor at the time told us that if we really wanted to make an impact, we should look into a career in public policy. Those words have stuck with me my entire life.”
Dr. David E. Wazer, M.D. is an internationally recognized expert in the management of breast cancer and the application of new technology in the field of radiation oncology. He has published more than 300 scientific articles and written several books in addition to co-editing “Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology,” the premier textbook of radiation oncology. He currently serves as professor and chairman of the Departments of Radiation Oncology at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. He is radiation oncologist-in-chief at Tufts Medical Center, Rhode Island Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, Women and Infants Hospital, and The Lifespan Health System. He also serves as Director of the Lifespan Cancer Institute. Read more about Dr. David E. Wazer, M.D.
“The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to appreciate the value of a high-quality liberal arts education. I say that as both a physician and a scientist, seeing the importance of strength in not only education in technical subjects, but in the humanities. Today, I find it’s those humanities that make me most effective at my job, through the ability to write and communicate. I worry that we’re seeing a move toward technical job-oriented education, and an under-appreciation of the liberal arts, but it’s the liberal arts that make for resilient and creative people. For me, the greatest gift Holy Cross gave me was the power of imagination.”
Benjamin Zawacki is a human rights researcher and advocate who has published widely on human rights issues, concentrating on war crimes (southern Thailand), crimes against humanity (eastern Myanmar), and ethnic cleansing (Rohingyas). He is the author of “Thailand: Shifting Ground Between the US and a Rising China” (Zed Books and National University of Singapore Press, June 2017). Zawacki was a visiting fellow in the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School in 2014-15, and a term member on the Council on Foreign Relations through 2016. He was the senior legal advisor for Southeast Asia with the International Commission of Jurists, the acting regional representative of the International Development Law Organization, and the first Myanmar Consultant for The Elders. Previously, he was Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia researcher for five years, and served as a policy advisor to President Jimmy Carter. Learn more about Benjamin Zawacki.
“I studied history at Holy Cross, and I’ve recently written a book that was largely history. I also studied peace and conflict studies, which is very closely related to the work I’ve done with refugees and humanitarian work and human rights work. Sometimes, you can apply that sort of narrative retrospectively to what you’ve done and try to make a connection. In my case, I think that was really quite expressed. The Jesuit influence is in your DNA. You really can’t shake it.”
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