Hobart and William Smith Colleges will honor two special high school teachers for the role they played in the lives of two HWS students who will graduate on Sunday. Hobart senior Brendan Csaposs will recognize Schenectady High School Spanish Teacher Pamela Parish and William Smith senior Colleen Carpinella will honor former Hamden High School Social Studies Teacher Nicholas Collicelli with the Touching the Future Award during Commencement 2009 ceremonies.
The award is given during Commencement each year to celebrate the faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges who have touched the future of graduates by their interactions. Additionally, the award celebrates and honors the many early childhood educators — those in elementary, middle and high schools — who have led graduates to Hobart and William Smith and to crossing the stage for Commencement.
To recognize the teacher who had the most significant impact on touching the future of a Hobart student, Csaposs nominated Parish for the award because of the lasting way that she shaped his life. “Ms. Parish helped me in indescribable ways and taught me a vital lesson: that just doing enough to get by with a good grade is not sufficient.”
Csaposs, a member of the Druid Senior Honor Society and president of the HWS PRIDE Alliance, added that, “This is a lesson that I have carried with me ever since. I see it in my college GPA, my double majors, even the independent study work that I have done and my participation in the Honors abroad program. Since I met Ms. Parish, I have consistently pushed myself to go above and beyond the ‘average’ and striven to realize my full potential as a student.”
As the William Smith candidate for the award, Carpinella nominated Collicelli because of the important values that he imparted to her. “Mr. Collicelli instilled in me a passion for social justice through the Hamden High School Human Relations Club that he founded to promote tolerance and understanding and the eradication of racial prejudice,” explained Carpinella, a member of the Hai Timiai Senior Honor Society who plans to attend the University of California at Los Angeles to pursue a Ph.D. in social psychology with an emphasis in political psychology.
She added that, “He saw a racially diverse school with overwhelming potential for conversation and understanding but with a deficiency in cross racial dialogue. I have been inspired by his passion and his dedication to social justice and can honestly say that my career path would be significantly different had I never met Mr. Collicelli.”
The Touching the Future Award was established by the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees in 2004. It derives its name from the famous words of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher selected to participate in the space shuttle program who died in the explosion of Challenger. McAuliffe expressed the sentiments of many teachers when she said, “I touch the future, I teach.”