St. Joseph College, West Hartford CT I know for sure that Miss Laurette Laramie (my high school history teacher, mentor, and great friend,) had a LOT to do with my  receiving this amazing honor.  Laurette graduated from St. Joe's, as did my mother, Lucille Arrigan Rice.  My mother always said she could never have received a better education anywhere, and that St. Joe's gave her strength and belief in herself, and the knowledge that she could make of her life anything she wished.  She chose art, literature, motherhood, and teaching.

Laurette taught me history, but even more, she taught compassion--for ourselves and for everyone on the planet.  She encouraged awareness and consciousness, and a sense of our own abilities to make a difference.  In her class at St. Thomas Aquinas we read the daily New York Times, opening our world view; during the holidays we paid special attention to the Neediest Cases stories, entering the lives of families affected by hunger, poverty, illness, and in reading about them, care about them and find a way to help.

I know how Laurette feels about St. Joseph College--she loves it.  She is a vibrant scholar and activist--in this case her activism included so kindly and lovingly weaving, unknown to me, the scenario that makes possible this wonderful gift--an honorary degree from the college that shaped her life.

I'm grateful to St. Joseph College, President Pamela Trotman Reid, PhD. and Sister Patricia Rooney, as well as to Laurette Laramie, the late Kathleen Stingle, and my mother, wonderful St. Joe's grads who've influenced me so much.

I do have my own, private St. Joe's moment.  When I was little, my mother would take us on frequent visits to the campus, to visit her former professors, Sisters of Mercy.  I must have been about 5.  We were in the Grotto, an ivy-covered secret garden, and I found a blue button.  Remind me to tell you the story sometime.  It involves a vision of the Virgin Mary.