Fulfilling a Dream
Michael Molla '84
Unlike many students whose parents question their decision to major in art, Michael Molla ’84 had the full encouragement of his family to pursue an art degree – if he attended a small, private college.
“They knew I would only flourish in that environment,” Mike recalls. “It was important for them, and me, that I had a broad based education that offered a comprehensive student centered experience.”
Accompanied by his grandfather, Mike came to campus for an interview and portfolio review with Professor Ralph Parente, then chair of the art department. Professor Parente began the review by asking him to talk about each of the 15 pieces in his portfolio for which Mike was well-prepared. Professor Parente then asked a question that caught him off guard.
Within minutes of flipping through his portfolio, Professor Parente asked Mike to describe in detail, ‘How do you think?’ “I remember responding nervously that I don’t really know,” shares Mike. “I was prepared to talk about each piece of work in my portfolio, not answer the type of question he was asking.” According to Mike, Professor Parente responded, “this is one of the first questions you will ask yourself on your journey to become an artist this September here at Anna Maria.”
For Mike, his education started right then and there and continued through his four years at AMC. “Professor Parente systematically raised my creative and professional aspirations beyond what I ever thought possible,” he says.
Mike’s education was rounded out by other faculty and staff, including Dean of Students, Hollie Ingraham, Sr. Rollande Quintal, SSA ’62, and Sr. Paulette Gardner, SSA ’67. “Their commitment to students...continues to echo in both my heart and mind today. They helped inform, educate and develop values that are reflected in my daily work to this day,” he claims.
After graduating, Mike planned to become an art teacher, but teaching jobs were in short supply in the wake of Proposition 2 ½, which impacted school systems in Massachusetts. Utilizing his experience as a resident assistant at Anna Maria, Mike accepted a full-time job as a Resident Director at Fitchburg State College. This led to a residence life position at Denison University in Ohio, followed by a stint as Assistant Dean of Student Life at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Maryland.
Fulfilling a dream to combine his dual love of art and student affairs, Mike moved to Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, one of the top art colleges in the country. After rising through the ranks to become a chief student affairs officer, Mike currently serves as MICA’s Vice President for Operations. Although very happy in his current role, he hopes to one day serve as a college president.
Mike credits Anna Maria College with providing him with both a strong academic and co-curricular preparation and for supporting his aspirations. “Every moment at AMC, whether in the classrooms, studios or participating in student organizations, I felt as though the entire College was there to support my personal and educational journey,” he comments. “We could not get away with just being average students at AMC; we were expected to be great students.”
Carrying Out the Tradition of an AMC Education
Edith Mooney LaVigne '63 G
Edith Mooney LaVigne ’63, the youngest of three daughters in the Mooney family, did not envision herself graduating from the same alma mater as her two older sisters. Edith wanted to carve out her own path and thought that she needed to attend a college other than Anna Maria to do so. It turned out however that AMC was the right choice for Edith and, despite the fact that her sisters Ann and Peggy had already blazed the trail at Anna Maria Edith was able to become a woman in her own right.
“My sister Ann was six years older than me, so she had already graduated from Anna Maria when I began my freshman year,” shares Edith. “Peggy was in her senior year so even though the campus was fairly small, I was able to make my own friends and create my own niche.”
All three Mooney sisters commuted from their Holden home except for Peggy’s last semester on campus when both she and Edith lived in the residence hall. Edith majored in sociology and minored in education at Anna Maria and fondly remembers one of her professors, Mrs. Mary Plunkett. According to Edith, Mrs. Plunkett was “sensible and down to earth. She was very wise and had a great sense of humor,” she adds.
Edith points to something Mrs. Plunkett shared with her students, words of wisdom that no doubt impacted some of her future choices. “I remember her telling us that whatever group or organization we joined, we should eventually take a position of leadership,” explains Edith.
Edith not only remembered these words, she lived them out later in life when she launched the Friends of the Paxton Library, served as the organization’s president numerous times and remained a trustee for 15 years.
Other hallmarks of an AMC education impacted Edith’s future. After graduating, she along with four other students joined Extension Lay Volunteers of America in an effort to give back to others. “The teachings of the Sisters of Saint Anne regarding social justice and working toward the common good really resonated with me,” states Edith. “I truly value the experience I had working as part of this volunteer organization teaching fifth graders in Oklahoma. I came to admire the people, who may have been short on material things but rich and full on values and an appreciation for life.”
After fulfilling her one-year commitment to Extension Lay Volunteers of America, Edith returned to the Holden area and taught at the Jefferson School in Holden. In 1965, she married her husband of 45 years, Tom LaVigne and dedicated the rest of her life to raising four children. Today, Edith resides on the Cape with Tom and enjoys spending time with her now eight grandchildren.
Edith also continues to enjoy giving back and taking leadership roles in the community. Both she and her husband are involved with Cape Cod Hospital, and Edith has once again signed on as a Trustee at Anna Maria College, having served in this capacity from 2001-2007. “I am excited to be able to be involved with my alma mater during a time of great change,” she shares. “I am very pleased that College is aspiring to academic excellence and working hard to re-establish AMC as a leader in quality, Catholic education. Anna Maria was very good for me. I would definitely recommend it to others.”
Alice Pincus '72 G
When you meet Alice Pincus ’72, her calm demeanor and welcoming smile provide a glimpse into the comfortable family life she has carved out. If you engage her in conversation, you will learn about the many challenges she overcame to follow her dreams.
Born in Haiti, Alice was sent as a child to live in the U.S. due to political unrest. Her parents said good-by to their three children with the hope that they would have a better life outside of their native country.
Leaving everything she knew, Alice arrived in New York at the age of 12 to live with her uncle’s family in Bethesda, MD. Although the culture was different and she had to learn English immersed in regular classes, she made the most of her new, educational opportunity. “Given all that my family sacrificed, I knew that I had to embrace my new life head on,” shares Alice. “I was fortunate that the public junior high I attended offered great equipment and exceptional teachers.” Being close to Washington, DC, Bethesda was a favorite location for Congressional families to raise their children.
It was during these early teen years that Alice was introduced to the science lab. At first struggling with the English language, she was drawn to math and science. She ended up forming a life-long bond with these subjects. As Alice looked forward to attending the public high school, her uncle‘s job changed and she was given the choice of moving with them to Guatemala or staying in the U.S. on a student visa.
“I was determined to stay in the U.S. so I wrote to St. Anne Academy in Marlboro, MA where one cousin was a resident student, asking them for a scholarship,” explains Alice. “And, with their positive response began my lifelong relationship with the Sisters of St. Anne. I started as a sophomore and the small-school experience was just what I needed,” she adds. “I participated in almost every activity and learned how to be a leader; but most important I made great friends.”
Alice graduated in a class of 42 students, seven of whom went on to AMC, including Alice and her closest friend, Renee (Malboeuf) Morse’72. “Once again, the Sisters came through by helping me obtain a scholarship and locating a Paxton family with whom I could live. How generous of these families who opened their homes to students who couldn’t afford to live on campus!” she remarks. However, after her freshman year, Alice faced another struggle and had to find work to pay the tuition going forward. She moved to Worcester sharing apartments with struggling students from other colleges, working two jobs while finishing school.
After graduation, Alice again faced challenges. To remain in the States, she had to marry or stay in school. With Sr. Pauline Madore’s assistance, Alice entered the masters in organic chemistry program at Holy Cross, which was going co-ed. She became one of the first women to graduate from the school.
“I went from an all-female to an all-male school, and then entered the work-force during the turbulence of the seventies,” claims Alice. “I promptly learned that women had a long way to go to be taken seriously in what was considered a man’s world.”
Having met other challenges, Alice quickly succeeded professionally, starting her own consulting and contract R&D business, Pincus Associates, in 1983 with the support of her husband, Bob, who joined her full time in 1990. In 1986, Alice became a key founder of a trade organization, RadTech International No. America, and served as its first, full-term president. Her first experience on a board of directors was as chairperson, creating a board.
Once, after a successful business meeting, Alice reflected on her achievements and immediately thought of the scholarship assistance from the Academy and AMC, and particularly of the academic and emotional support from Sr. Pauline, who had been the chemistry department head when Alice attended AMC. She decided to find Sr. Pauline and establish a scholarship in her honor so other international students could realize their dream of a college education.
In addition to fulfilling her educational dreams, Alice was able to find a permanent home in Andover, MA where she has lived for 36 years. “After all the moving around, when Bob and I married in 1974 I told him I wanted to buy a house where we could form a close-knit family and be grounded,” she shares. We are glad she did.
Police Commissioner Makes the Grade
Edward F. Davis '90 G
Lowell, MA native, Ed Davis‘90G, presides as the 40th Police Commissioner of the City of Boston. He was sworn in by Mayor Thomas Menino on December 4, 2006. Prior to becoming Commissioner of the Boston Police Department, Mr. Davis served as the Superintendent of Police in Lowell, Massachusetts for 12 years. He began his career as a patrol officer in Lowell in 1978 and rose through the ranks before becoming Superintendent in 1994. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Leadership Award (2002) from the Police Executive Research Forum.
Commissioner Davis was also the recipient of the prestigious NIJ Pickett Fellowship and attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Program for Senior Government Executives at Harvard University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from New Hampshire College and a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Anna Maria College.
Commissioner Davis has served on the PERF board of directors and was a founding member and first President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association.
In the recent past, Commissioner Davis shared his thoughts on his career and law enforcement in general. Here is a summary of his thoughts.
Commissioner Davis, why did you enter the criminal justice field?
“I have always been interested in working in law enforcement, particularly for the local police force, since I can remember. My father was a police officer in Lowell where I grew up and I was able to gain first-hand knowledge of what his work entailed. I started my career as a police officer and really enjoyed my role in protecting local neighborhoods. I liked being out of the office, walking the streets and interacting with the public. I still do.”
Why did you select Anna Maria College to continue your education?
“The Catholic Mission of the College was a major draw for me. I grew up in the Catholic education system and always believed it delivered a superior product. AMC was also one of the first Colleges in the area offering criminal justice programs for individuals with full-time careers. Once I started the program I became impressed with the instructors and the overall content of the classes.”
How has AMC helped your career?
“The professors were great and understood what their students needed to learn. Many had been or were currently working as practitioners in the field. I remember one of my instructors, Jim Brick, a former Assistant District Attorney, who made a tremendous impact on my professional life. Through his support and knowledge, I became involved in researching DNA, which in the late 80’s was just coming into the forefront of law enforcement. At the time, DNA evidence was being used effectively in London and as a result of my studies at AMC, I was able to become knowledgeable about important this cutting-edge program. It really has made a significant difference.”
What issues do you see facing Criminal Justice Professionals in the future?
“From where I sit right now, budgeting will continue to be a major concern. Large metro areas will have to carefully evaluate what works and what doesn’t work so that the limited funds police forces are receiving can be used to implement programs that are the most effective. For example, I think large communities need to build-up community policing programs and pull-back on other initiatives that have less impact on maintaining the safety of our communities, which of course is our first priority.”