Online Recovery Resources Can Save Lives


By James DiReda, LICSW, PhD
Associate Professor in the School of Professional Studies
Anna Maria College


Anna Maria College is preparing the next generation of recovery and addiction professionals through classroom courses, clinical and experiential learning opportunities. Alumni serve their communities through psychology, community health, nursing, social work, music and art therapy, education and emergency response.


The misuse of substances, and addiction to alcohol and other chemicals is a problem that often negatively impacts individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole. The pain and devastation is endless, the cost astronomical, including loss of potential and ultimately loss of life, with an end to it seemingly nowhere in sight. Sad as this sounds, and discouraging as it might seem, there is hope, individuals who misuse substances and those addicted can and do change. There are millions of people that have joined the ranks of those in recovery from substance use disorders and addiction. I write this as one of those fortunate enough to have survived 20+ years of active addiction, and the nightmare it caused for me, and proudly say that April 1 marked the 35th year since I have used any type of drugs, alcohol, or nicotine. Needless to say, my entire life is worlds apart from the day to day existence it once was, and it only seems natural to share the gift I have been given with others, in hopes that it might be of use to them in some way.

When speaking about the dramatic life change recovery entails, people commonly ask “how did/do you do it? What is the “secret” to making this incredible transition from hopeless and helpless to healthy and unencumbered by addiction? They want to know so they can apply it to their own life, or share it with someone they care about that struggles with substance use/addiction. As intriguing and mysterious as it might seem, it really isn’t all that complicated, and in fact, is quite simple. However, make no mistake, being simple in principle does not mean easy! There are a variety of treatments and support groups available to educate, guide, and support those who struggle with substance use and addiction, and most are fairly accessible and free of charge. Without getting into a long diatribe or lecture about addiction, it is a condition marked by a dependence on substances (or even behaviors) that has a progressively negative effect on the person (and those around them), driven by a compulsion to use those substances, and a loss of control over them. Addiction has been called a sickness of the soul, causing disconnection and isolation from others, and retreating into a lonely, dark, and often painful aloneness, even in the company of others, where the only sensible “fix” is to use substances to anesthetize the pain of this condition. If addiction is about disconnection, then the logical suggestion would be for that person to reconnect, with others, with self, with the greater community or universe. As much as I would like to entice you with some elusive cure or mysterious treatment, and many of those exist, but have yet to be proven effective, that connection I mentioned earlier is really at the heart of recovery. Yes, there are other factors involved, but at its core is a reconnection, something as humans we are hardwired for.

In a recent NPR interview I was asked about recovery and what I do to remain sober and in recovery? And so, without breaking any of the traditions of the mutual support groups that I attend, I spent time explaining the power of those groups, and the people in them, to the interviewer in hopes that her article would shine some bright light on this issue of addiction and recovery. Traditionally, people learn about addiction from what they see on television and movies, and what they read about in the local newspapers, which usually portray addicts and addiction in a very negative, often sleazy image, which can be stereotypical (often accurate) description of addiction. However, addiction doesn’t always look the same, or impact everyone in exactly the same way. Nonetheless, what most folks see is that description, but don’t see the millions of success stories about those once addicted, but now recovering and changed. In my humble opinion, our society has seen and heard enough of the dark stories, the heartbreaking ones, the infuriating and scary ones, which do exist, and always will when speaking about addiction. However, what folks don’t often enough hear are those success stories of those in recovery. Part of that is because most recovery support groups and those who attend them choose to remain anonymous, for obvious reasons, but that keeps the rest of the world from hearing about that success, and the miraculous change that happens on a regular basis with individuals in recovery.

So, it seems fitting that as I celebrate 35 years in recovery, living a life I could never have imagined while in the throes of my own addiction, that I share this with you. I want folks to know that first of all, no one wants to live the life of an addict, but it can happen to anyone (and does happen). Those who become addicted are not some “others” who exist “somewhere” else, they are our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, cousins, friends, and coworkers. And that isolation and disconnection that feed addiction can be reversed by connecting with others who walk the same path, and are accessible and willing to help. Ironically, as I write this line, we are in facing a pandemic, causing that “connection” and interaction we find so helpful in recovery programs to discontinue at in-person meetings, and shift to an online format. For many in recovery the thought of being isolated, especially in early recovery, seems extremely risky, and they find themselves reaching out in ways that are quite unfamiliar.

We, in the recovery community have seen a recent surge in the amount of mutual support meetings being offered in online platforms (Zoom, Go to Meeting, etc.) in an attempt to stay connected to friends and supports in recovery. Although not the ideal, and by far no comparison to actual “live” meetings, online support group meetings have been a lifesaving option for many, present company included. Simply seeing and hearing from friends and others in recovery, and hearing the important messages that get conveyed through these groups, provides the connection and encouragement that helps us maintain another day in recovery. I strongly recommend to those in need to find a virtual support group meeting (AA, NA) and continue to do so until in-person meetings are available again, it can save lives. There is much more to say about the treatment of addiction and the services available, and I don’t mean to make recovering from addiction sound or seem easy; it’s NOT. However, the message I do want to convey is that WE DO RECOVER, and we do it by connecting (even virtually) with one another to help each other through this painfully, scary, but beautiful journey of recovery.


Dr. DiReda holds a dual Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work from Boston University, and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. He is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with over twenty-eight years of direct clinical experience in the field of mental health and addictions counseling. He has served as an advocate, treatment provider, researcher, and teacher working with individuals and families, schools, hospitals, treatment programs, jails, private and not-for-profit organizations around issues of mental health and substance use. He is a member of the Boards of Directors at AdCare Educational Institute, and the MA Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR). Dr. DiReda is an assistant professor of Social Work in the School of Professional Studies at Anna Maria College and is a founding partner at Lake Avenue Recovery in Worcester, MA.


online virtual resources

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We Are An Easter People

BLOG Easter2020

By Fr. David Cotter 
Anna Maria College Chaplain 


If I’m being honest, I can’t say that I remember many of the nearly fifty Holy Weeks and Easters I’ve celebrated in my priesthood and religious life with much distinct clarity. One year is not that different from another, so they tend to blend together. However, I do remember at least one in particular. I was a student in New York City, sometime in the late 1970s. This particular Easter I was free on Easter Sunday morning and, since a friend from undergraduate days was visiting from Montreal, decided to do something neither of us had ever done. We’d go into Manhattan for the Easter Parade. Now, it’s not really a parade. Rather it’s all the people thronging Fifth Avenue in Mid-town as the many church services conclude around noon. There’s no traffic on the day. The doors open, people spill out and spend a beautiful spring morning walking up and down the avenue and Central Park enjoying the day and watching other people. Feeling as though, just as Easter promises, they’ve come to life again after a winter spent largely indoors.  

I have a vivid memory of standing on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the “Met,” at 1000 Fifth Avenue, as good a vantage point as any and itself crowded with people, and looking down the street and seeing nothing but people, a solid mass of humanity, seemingly all dressed in their best, all happy and, especially, all together. There’s something about the celebration of life renewed that demands the presence of other people with whom the celebration might be shared. No one imagines an Easter Parade with only one participant, nor a heaven in which our eternal bliss is solitary. It was a perfect morning, a perfect day. Joy is meant to be shared. And that’s what I experienced that Sunday.   

That’s why I’ll remember this Easter as well. Palm Sunday recalls the entry of Jesus into a Jerusalem packed with people preparing to celebrate Passover, yet this year I recalled that first Palm Sunday not in a packed church but an empty one. Aside from the musicians, the parishioner who so kindly undertook to live-stream the Mass and those necessary for the celebration of the liturgy, no one was there. I preached, as best I could, to rows of empty pews hoping that someone was watching. It wasn’t what anyone would have wanted, but it was what we had, so we did it as well as we could.  

But here’s the thing…after the Mass I went out into the parking lot, with mask on and gloved hands, to distribute palms to whoever wanted to come by. And people did. Without stop. People I knew but hadn’t seen for some weeks. People from our friends in the Congregational church just across the street. People I didn’t know at all. We laughed. We caught up with our lives. We connected. When the stream of cars finally ended and I returned to the rectory, I discovered that many friends in the United Kingdom had tuned in and watched as well. I was reminded over and over of something we confess each week as we recite the Creed, the Communion of Saints. Our community does not consist only of those we can see immediately in front of us. Rather, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, with whom we share love and support.  

This Easter, the One with Empty Pews, will doubtless last in many of our memories as long as that long-ago Easter Parade one has in mine. That Easter I was struck by how many people were there, how many shared the faith and joy celebrated on this day. The same is true this year, for we are always surrounded by love, buoyed up by the support of communities seen and unseen. Sometimes the circumstances of our lives make it seem as though we’re alone but then, in God’s good time, we’ll walk outside into the sunlight and discover all the people waiting to greet us, to share this day with us, to remind us that we can never be alone. 

God Bless and Happy Easter! 

Fr. David Cotter 
Anna Maria College Chaplain 

50 Ways to Be an Easter People 


  • Pray the Litany of the Saints
  • Pray for the Pope and the leaders of the Church
  • Pray for the government and the leaders of the country
  • Pray for your family
  • Pray for those who have died due to COVID-19
  • Pray for those who have not been able to have a funeral shortly after their passing due to restrictions from COVID-19
  • Step out of your comfort zone and invite someone to pray with you or for you
  • Visit the Anna Maria College Virtual Prayer Wall and pray for all the intentions listed there. Even add your own!
  • Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and reflect on God’s generous mercy


  • Attend Mass / Make a Spiritual Communion
  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation / Do an Examination of Conscience
  • Renew your Baptismal promises

Works of Mercy: 

  • Be the hands and feet of Jesus
  • Call or video chat with a friend and check in with them
  • Visit with an elderly family member either by phone or physically (when permitted)
  • Buy a few extra items at the grocery store and donate them to your local food pantry
  • Go through your closet and take out everything that doesn’t fit but is still in good condition and donate them.
  • Now go through a second time and remove items that you haven’t worn and are still in good condition and donate them.
  • Give generously to your church, organizations, or individuals in need
  • Check in with a neighbor today to see if they need anything
  • Fulfill one act of kindness today
  • Choose an area around your home, neighborhood or town and pick up the trash
  • Preach the Gospel without using words, use actions
  • Do extra chores around the house just to help out
  • Practice forgiveness and let go of anger
  • Love everyone as we are all equal in God’s eyes
  • Welcome people as they enter your church for Sunday Mass or service
  • Practice living on what you need versus living on what you want. “Live simply so that others may simply live.” Gandhi
  • Practice patience today
  • Become a Eucharistic Minister
  • Volunteer as a Lector at church
  • Join the choir at your church


  • Be joyful!
  • Share messages of hope- via posting in your windows, on your social media, or through the mail
  • Look all around you to find Jesus in others and in the beauty of nature
  • Try to let go of your fears and anxieties, one at a time, and give them to God. He’s got you!
  • Take some time outside and just breathe the gift of fresh air
  • Find something unique to rejoice in today, not something you’d typically give much attention to, and share it with someone else.
  • Get creative! What does being an Easter people mean to you?


  • Sing Praise & Worship music
  • Take a virtual trip to a Shrine or Holy place
  • Spend time meditating on Psalm 30:4-5
  • Spend time meditating on Luke 24:40-41
  • Practice “Bible before breakfast, Bible before bed”
  • Don’t forget what you did for Lent in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Find a way to continue to incorporate those things into your life now!


  • Research a joyful Saint and choose one thing they did that you can start emulating yourself
  • Read a book about one of our great Saints
  • Read St John Paul II encyclical calledRedemptoris Missio to learn more about who we are called to be.
  • Try an hour away from social media and take that time to learn something new about your faith
  • View the Scriptures as a love letter to you! Learn more about God by reading the Scriptures with that mindset.
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From the President - April 8th Update

April 8, 2020 - Update from the President

Dear Anna Maria Alumni,

As a valued member of our community, I write today to let you know, that in these unprecedented times, the mission and the values of Anna Maria are alive and well. Whether it be through your own personal efforts to assist those in need, through your fellow alumni who have answered the bell in responding in so many ways to those affected by COVID-19, our faculty and staff who rolled up their sleeves and did what needed to be done to assist our students to complete their semester remotely and, lastly, our students who were understanding of the unusual circumstances and generous of spirit to assist their fellow students who needed help. This crisis has only heightened what we know to be the action necessary to support those around us – what we found as students and friends to be the core of the Anna Maria experience.


So many have reached out to offer assistance through ideas, philanthropic support and counsel to me and others who are navigating in waters never before experienced. Your show of support is not surprising given the nature of our alumni, but never more appreciated. Thank you for caring so much for the students who had their semester turned upside down, especially the seniors who will not be able to experience that last semester of deepened friendships and memories.


The speed in which our faculty converted their teaching modes to online vehicles was remarkable and our current students are engaged in completing their semester curriculum without compromising their path to degree completion. Those who typically spent their days advising, tutoring, counseling and sharing events with our students have developed programs that answer these needs and Zoom has now become our best mode of outreach for face to face contact!


We have supported our local community with supplies to facilities who needed them and have offered the campus to MEMA for any future use to house front line responders or victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Outreach from nursing, social work, music, emergency responders and education departments to assist in serving others has been ongoing and will continue as we work through this national crisis.


Our students have been resilient by sharing their remote experiences with each other through social media and were exemplary in their response to leaving campus and adapting to a new teaching style. Needless to say, the seniors were very happy to hear that we will conduct Commencement on campus this year on August 22nd. You are invited to attend this special day for it will be one that I am sure will live in their memories even more than the original one planned for May. 


In short, your alma mater is truly amazing and you should be proud of the positive response, energy and kindness that has been exhibited at this difficult time. I am proud to serve as president of such an institution and thank you for your continued support of this wonderful College. You can stand tall knowing how well Anna Maria is serving and succeeding.


Mary Lou Retelle
President of Anna Maria College

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Celebrating Holy Week from a Distance



Dear Anna Maria Community,

In the midst of all that has been going on the last few weeks, we may not have even realized that Palm Sunday and Holy Week are mere days away. The holiest time in the Church could easily get brushed aside amidst the uncertainty and ever-changing news cycle. Yet, this time in history is calling us more than ever to embrace Holy Week and all the lessons and graces we can receive from it. Lent became something much more profound than many of us ever would have expected. We were not only asked to fast from meat on Fridays but to fast from the most life-giving aspect of our faith, the Mass and Eucharist. While it has no doubt been a challenge and a source of suffering, this is the time to remember- there is no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday. We are an Easter people, but only by the acceptance of our sufferings first.

While we remain in a state of social distancing throughout next week, there are still many ways we can embrace the holiness of it within our own homes and families. I encourage you to choose at least one act of solidarity each day as we journey through this upcoming week. The Campus Ministry Department has compiled a list of resources and ideas for you. Please see below as well as the attached PDF file for an in-depth guide.

We are also excited to announce the launch of our VIRTUAL PRAYER WALL! This is a place where anyone can submit a prayer request, share testimony of an answered prayer, see all the other prayer requests and take them to prayer in their own unique way, and subscribe to the Prayer Chain Email List to be notified every time a new intention is added as a way to have a more consistent connection. All intentions will be offered by our Chaplain, Fr. David Cotter, at his Sunday Masses. Let us use this as a place to pray for all those suffering during this time, especially our first responders.

If you are still looking for livestream Mass options, Fr. Cotter will also be livestreaming the Holy Week Masses from his parish, St. Columba’s in Paxton, via their website and YouTube channel. We invite you to join! Plus, if you live in the area, he will also be distributing blessed palms from 11 AM – 12 PM this Sunday at the church’s side door.

In hope, faith, and love let us endure these current sufferings with a firm knowledge of the joy in the Easter Sunday that is right around the corner!

Have a blessed Holy Week! We are praying for you all,

Melissa LaNeve & the Campus Ministry Department


Ideas for a Meaningful Holy Week

Palm Sunday:

-Reflect on the word PREPARE

-Take palms if you’re able to get them, or any green plant, and set it in the center of your table, on your front door, or on your porch to symbolize Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem and your home.

-Fr. Cotter’s livestreamed Mass at 10 AM

-Fr. Cotter’s Palm Sunday reflection


Holy Thursday:

-Reflect on the word TOGETHER

-Read John 13:1-15

-Enjoy a meal together with those you are living with. After your meal have everyone take turns washing each other’s feet or hands. Leave a bowl, pitcher and towel in the center of your eating table. Leave them there until 12 p.m. on Good Friday.

-Fr. Cotter’s livestreamed Mass at 7 PM


Good Friday:

-Reflect on the word SACRIFICE

-Place a Crucifix in a prominent location

-Keep a period of silence (or quieter than normal) from 12 PM – 3 PM

-Read John 18:1-19:42

-Pray the Stations of the Cross

-Fr. Cotter’s livestreamed celebration of the Lord’s Passion at 7 PM


Holy Saturday:

-Reflect on the word SILENCE

-In the evening set a lit candle in the middle of your table. This is to remind us that Christ is the light of the world and we are called to bring that light wherever we go.

-Fr. Cotter’s livestreamed Vigil Mass at 7:30 PM


Easter Sunday:

-Reflect on the word JOY

-Call/FaceTime your loved ones to check in with them and share in the joy of the day together

-Write messages of hope and joy in chalk on your driveway and sidewalk

-Fr. Cotter’s livestreamed Mass at 10 AM

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COVID-19: A Q&A with Emergency Management Expert Dr. Gregory Ciottone

 Ciottone QnA 3apr20


Dr. Gregory Ciottone, Medical Director of Anna Maria College’s Health Emergency Management Program, discusses Coronavirus and the emergency response currently underway. Dr. Gregory Ciottone is a nationally recognized leader in the health emergency management field. He is author of the leading textbook in the field, Ciottone’s Disaster Medicine. He also holds an appointment as Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School.


  • Q: Dr. Ciottone, what do we know about COVID-19 that we didn’t know a month ago?

A: We still don’t know everything but we are learning more every day. COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, that is, it’s new. There are still some unknowns, but with more people being tested, we are able to see more data on attack rates, hospitalization and ICU rates, death rates, etc. that can help inform next steps. The medical community is monitoring this data very closely. For example, one factor of great interest is immunity. Typically, there is some immunity with other coronaviruses and infectious diseases in general. In the case of COVID-19, we are paying close attention to those who tested positive and have since recovered, to understand the extent and duration of any immunity that is conveyed. 


  • Q: Is there any consensus among emergency management experts on where we are in terms of the pandemic’s timeline?3 HEM

A: There’s a lot of modeling taking place but also many variables so nothing is 100 percent right now. The community-level mitigation underway will help blunt the curve, but by how much and when we don’t know. There is consensus around mitigation. It’s critical that we continue to promote public education about health and repeat messages like washing your hands, use of sanitizing solutions, social distancing, and staying at home. These are the ways we can help mitigate the spread of this virus.

  • Q: NYC appears to be very hard hit. Are there elements of NYC’s response effort that other cities should emulate (or prepare for)?

A: While we cannot predict the next hotspots, cities should take every opportunity to prepare. They should assume the virus will come as a surge. I already mentioned mitigation strategies. Cities should also use this time to review their plans, look at emergency staffing levels, look at inventories of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), COVID-19 test kits, ventilators and other critical care equipment. They can make plans for alternate testing sites to help make sure emergency rooms are used only for emergencies. And, with emergency rooms, those locations can use this time to plan for separately located screening areas to help separate traditional ER visits from COVID-19 cases. Communities need to do their best planning now to prepare for having a surge on their hospitals.

  • Q: It’s clearly too early to talk about recovery, but what are the determinants you look for to indicate that a recovery is underway?

A: The most obvious determinant will be a decline in the number of new cases. Also, we look for a decline in community spread. I mentioned immunity earlier and that is another factor. While we don’t know yet how much immunity there will be or how long it will last, generally speaking immunity decreases the number of people who can transmit the disease which means less spread. These are all factors, among others, that will help make decisions on when and how to de-escalate the current home isolation measures.

  • Q: Are there any lessons learned at this point?

A: Yes. As a population, we better understand disease transmission. People are more conscientious about handwashing, social distancing and other sanitary practices. This is a good thing in general and we need to incorporate these practices into our daily routines going forward. They will help us enormously in the future with other viruses.


In the wake of the growing number of natural and man-made disasters and disease outbreaks, the demand for trained professionals to anticipate and manage response efforts for these kinds of events has been steadily increasing. To meet this need, Anna Maria College is collaborating with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Fellowship in Disaster Medicine to provide a one-of-a-kind Master of Science in Health Emergency Management program for medical graduate students and trained health professionals, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants, paramedics and EMTs. Additionally, Anna Maria offers a Certificate in Health Emergency Management for students with an advanced degree interested in pursuing the specific knowledge in the field of emergency and or disaster management.  To learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management visit

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From Classroom to Kitchen Table

Learning from home


From Classroom to Kitchen Table


The coronavirus pandemic is forcing all of us to grapple with profound changes in the way we live. The closing of public schools across Massachusetts and the nation has created a host of challenges that a number of us are currently facing. In an effort to help, particularly for people with younger school aged children, the Faculty of Anna Maria College’s Education programs have compiled some valuable information available online that might prove useful for anyone who finds themselves in the unexpected position of homeschooling their children. The PBS Learning Media link has the advantage of offering materials that are aligned to the Massachusetts Department of Education Standards, which will hopefully allow for an easy transition and provide some welcome continuity.

This link includes a list and description of many virtual learning opportunities for K-12 students.


About Anna Maria College

Located just outside of Worcester in Paxton, MA, Anna Maria College is a private, co-educational institution inspired by the ideals of the Sisters of Saint Anne. We prepare students to become ethical leaders by combining a values-based, service-focused education with strong functional knowledge and the skills necessary to address the rapidly changing needs of their world. Anna Maria delivers undergraduate and graduate degrees along with certificate programs on campus and online. For more information, visit To learn how Anna Maria is protecting the community against the spread of coronavirus, visit the COVID-19 update page.

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Coping with Pandemics in the Middle Ages

Coping with Pandemics in the Middle Ages 

Written by Ken Mondschein, a history professor at Anna Maria College.
The following is an excerpt from Ken’s article posted on


By far, one of the most stressful things about the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t fear of falling ill, but the psychological toll—not just in terms of isolation from “social distancing,” but simply feeling a lack of control over the situation.

Medieval people differed from us in their ways of coping with a pandemic, but they felt similar helplessness. Of course, they did not have the advantage of Pasteur’s germ theory, so they did not practice social distancing—though they did know that disease spread from person-to-person contact and practiced quarantines. In fact, the word “quarantine” comes from the early fifteenth-century Venetian law that required ships from plague-affected cities to wait off the coast of Venice for forty days (quaranta giorni) before discharging passengers and cargo. In this, the Venetians were following the example of their former colony of Ragusa (modern Dubrovnik in Croatia), which was a major power in the eastern Mediterranean.

Such quarantines tended to be communal in nature—for instance, shutting off a city from outsiders (though Milan escaped much of the devastation of the Black Death when the Visconti dukes walled victims up into their homes—a sort of internal exile). So, too, did methods of psychological coping tend to be communal. Foremost amongst these were liturgical rituals such as processions and prayer—particularly to saints who were said to have power over disease. Of course, today, we have our own personal Coronavirus rituals, such as hand-washing, checking in on friends and family, and incessantly posting on Facebook. These, however, are highly individualistic responses, and differ from the medieval tendency towards collective action.

Processions are a great example of this medieval communal tendency. Pope Gregory the Great (c. 540–605) famously held a “seven pronged procession,” or letania septiformis, during the plague of 590, sometimes called the First Plague Pandemic or Justinian’s Plague. Seven groups of Romans, organized by clerical or lay status, marital status, and gender, met at different churches to come together in one statement of community solidarity at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The contemporary chronicler Gregory of Tours relates that eighty people died during the march; supposedly, the Archangel Michael appeared on top of Hadrian’s tomb and sheathed his sword, signalling the end of the plague. The building has since been known as Castel Sant’Angelo...

To read the entire article, please visit

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From the President - March 23rd Update

March 21, 2020 - Update on COVID-19

Colleagues - 

As the senior management team continues to work together, and with the announcement today from Gov. Baker regarding the closing of physical workplaces beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24th at noon, through Tuesday, April 7th at noon, for organizations that do not provide COVID-19 Essential Services, President Retelle and AICUM offer the following message regarding exempt status from the Governors message:  Educators and staff supporting public and private emergency childcare programs, residential schools for students with disabilities, K-12 schools, colleges and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning, provision of school meals, or performing other essential student support functions, if operating under rules for social distancing.  


The preparation for Anna Maria College to continue supporting its students remotely has been tremendous and each and every employee is to be applauded for the hard work accomplished.


I continue to strongly encourage all faculty and staff to work from home. Please consult with your supervisor on plans for working remotely and assuring that realistic expectations are met to complete the work necessary to serve our students as best we can under the circumstances. If you need to report to campus, you are welcome to do so by contacting Security at 508-494-9010 (office) for office access when needed.


You have received information from Human Resources earlier this morning regarding employee benefits ensuring that you understand we support you one-hundred percent! I want to assure you that the College will do everything to make sure that you are not worried about your status or compensation in the weeks ahead. 


Thank you for all you are doing to help during this difficult time. I am always available to you for any questions or concerns, so please call me at any time.

Mary Lou Retelle
President of Anna Maria College

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From the President - March 21th Update

March 21, 2020 - Update on COVID-19

Dear Anna Maria Students and Parents,

On behalf of the faculty and staff at the College, I am writing to make sure you are updated on the latest news from campus and to check in on how you are doing during these difficult days. Little did we all know when we left for spring break that so many changes would happen, not just here at Anna Maria, but around the world. You are being asked to change your learning environment and, for some of you, your living situation since many of you had to move off campus. All of the activities that you were looking forward to for the rest of the semester cannot be held. And for all of this, I am truly sorry.


I have been on many calls with our Board of Trustees, other college presidents and government officials to make sure that we are making the best decisions on your behalf as a student at Anna Maria College. Every college is different and there is a lot of competing information out there.  Please be advised that many of our decisions are being informed by the federal and state officials as efforts are being taken to control COVID-19. In the meantime, the College will continue to provide timely updates on matters that affect you and your family. 


A few things I want you to know before you begin your classes on Monday:
While the delivery of your classes is not what you’re used to, the faculty have been working very hard to make sure that the quality of your courses is as strong remotely as in person. The same educational outcomes will be expected so that there will be no question of your earned credits and your continued path to completing your degree. During this transition to online learning, the IT department has been working non-stop to ensure you have access to your coursework, your faculty, and the resources necessary for your success. If you have technical difficulties, please email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your faculty will also be available to help you with any course difficulties and will still have office hours posted for any discussions outside of the class – you will just have to see them remotely! 


The Student Life staff is also working hard in planning online activities that will help you stay in touch with each other. I realize it isn’t Spring Weekend, a baseball softball or lacrosse game, a terrific fashion show, a drama production, or your art or music presentation, but I hope that you will participate and enjoy since we are all limited in what we can do and where we can go.


The refunds for room and board are being calculated and we are just waiting for some additional information from the government, both state and federal, to make sure we are being accurate in our determinations. In the meantime, you will be receiving a message from the business office at Anna Maria to sign up for E-Refund which will allow for direct deposit to your preferred bank account.Please pay attention to this notice and follow the instructions. You should expect this message sometime next week.


And last, but not least:
For those graduating this year – the Anna Maria College 2020 Commencement will be held on August 22, 2020 on our beautiful campus. We hope that by then that COVID-19 will not disrupt our plans. A Mass of Celebration will begin the day followed by the commencement ceremony with all of the pomp and circumstance that you deserve and expect. The Board of Trustees will host a Congratulatory Social after for your family and friends to celebrate the day together. This is an exciting day for you and we will make sure it is a day you will remember.


As you begin your classes on Monday, stay focused, connected and healthy. I know this is not easy, but we are here for you and miss you very much. Please feel free to reach out to me atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Mary Lou Retelle
President of Anna Maria College

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From the President - March 17th Update

March 17, 2020 - Update on COVID-19

Dear Members of the Anna Maria Community,


I would like to begin by expressing my sincere thanks for your patience during this unprecedented time. Senior management at Anna Maria has been working closely with the Department of Public Health, medical experts, guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and adhering to instructions from government on both the state and federal levels. Based on the best available information from the public health community, we are at a pivotal moment with respect to both the spread of the COVID-19 virus and our ability as a college to take proactive, rather than reactive, steps.


In this letter, I will update you on the following topics:
· Online learning for the remainder of the academic year
· Cancellation of all campus events through the end of the semester
· Financial considerations for reimbursements
· Guidelines for working remotely for faculty and staff

I had hoped that we could complete the semester in our regular classes and in-person community, but for reasons that are increasingly apparent, I am very sorry to say that this course of action is no longer possible. This is why I have made the difficult decision to finish out the spring semester with remote instruction.


Beginning Monday, March 23rd, all classroom instruction will be moved online. The faculty have been hard at work to ensure that the transition from classroom to online learning is as seamless as possible. I ask the students to please check your email regularly for updates from your professors as there will be many updates relative to technology support, advising and registration. All offices within Student Life will be available remotely throughout the semester, including the Student Success Center, the Counseling Center, and the Career Center. Also, the Student Life Office will be sending out messages encouraging students to stay connected with all of these services and to participate in online activities.


To the students, I fully understand your deep disappointment at having your academic and social experience here on the Anna Maria campus end so abruptly. The guest lectures, drama productions, concerts, athletic games, and student-led events that are a highlight of the spring will be missed by many; however, there was no choice but to cancel all campus events through the end of the semester. The College will evaluate the situation as it relates to all Commencement activities as decisions associated with COVID-19 are made. Safeguarding the health and safety of the entire Anna Maria community is top priority.


With regard to reimbursement to students for room and/or board, the College is developing a process to address refunds. I ask that you allow time to finalize the work involved and if you have any questions, please reach out to the Student Account Office at 508.849.3394 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


To faculty and staff, while the students will be attending classes online, it is important to note that Anna Maria College remains open as there is much work to do. We find ourselves in a situation that is, quite literally, beyond our control. I understand that the solutions we are offering place extra demands on all members of our community. However, I am confident that we will resolve the issues we face together.


There are many circumstances that have or will continue to present themselves for the employees and that will inform personal decisions for minimizing risk of exposure. Please consult your supervisor if you wish to explore flexible work options.


In closing, I want to recognize and thank the members of this wonderful community for their seriousness of purpose, generosity of spirit, and commitment to addressing this time of great challenge. I appreciate your hard work and solidarity as we address the current complexities.


Mary Lou Retelle
President of Anna Maria College

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Coronavirus - March 13th Update

March 13, 2020 - Update on COVID-19

Anna Maria College continues to take protective measure to ensure the safety and well-being of its students, faculty and staff in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Today, Anna Maria College is announcing that all spring athletics are cancelled. The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) also today cancelled the spring regular season conference schedule and championships. Athletic Director Joseph Brady’s message is included below.


Anna Maria College is also cancelling all campus events involving more than 50 people through March 31, 2020. Today Governor Baker announced a statewide ban on all gatherings of more than 250 people.


Anna Maria College takes these steps out of an abundance of caution. There are currently no recorded COVID-19 virus cases on our campus. We ask that you please continue checking the COVID-19 information on for further guidance and stay alert to ongoing updates from the College.


Announcement from Director of Athletics Joseph Brady
In response to the evolving situation related to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19, Director of Athletics Joseph Brady ’96 has announced the difficult and challenging decision to suspend the remainder of the spring sport seasons including club and non-traditional fall sports, effective Monday, March 16.


The health, safety, and well-being of our community is the top priority and the decision was made in order to help mitigate the spread and minimize the exposure and risk of the Coronavirus. There are no suspected or confirmed cases on the Anna Maria College campus.


The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Presidents Council unanimously voted today to cancel the spring regular season conference schedule and championships. The NCAA announced yesterday that all winter and spring national championships have been cancelled.


“The entire athletics community is disappointed and extremely saddened about this unprecedented situation. We feel this is the best decision for the safety and well-being of our students, coaches and community,” said Brady. “I cannot begin to express how I feel for all of our student-athletes and coaches and even more for our senior athletes who have worked so hard for Anna Maria College. I thank them for everything they have done and their commitment to AMCAT athletics.”


Click here to read the release from the GNAC.

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From the President - March 12th Update

March 12, 2020 - Update on COVID-19

Anna Maria College continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 public health crisis. Although there are currently no recorded COVID-19 virus cases on our campus, the safety of our campus community is our top priority. Accordingly, the College will extend the spring break currently underway through Sunday, March 22, 2020. The extension of the break through March 22 will also allow the College to prepare for remote instruction, should that become necessary. No campus events will take place and students should not return to campus during this time with the exception of resident students needing to pick up necessary items for an additional week away; those students must contact Residence Life to schedule a time to pick up their belongings.


The campus will otherwise remain open and all faculty and staff should continue their regular work schedules the week of March 16-20.


Athletic Director Joe Brady is in touch with his coaches, fellow athletic directors, and the Conference to determine next steps for our athletic teams. We will update you when we know more from his discussions.


To be clear, this public health crisis is a very fluid situation. On Tuesday, March 10, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth and advised businesses, institutions and residents to follow the guidance of the CDC and the Department of Public Health and take mitigation steps where possible to help slow the spread of the disease, including avoiding large group gatherings. The College already had provided guidance about avoiding travel to high risk areas, accessing campus health services, and maintaining proper hygiene. However, the emergency declaration confirms the seriousness of the situation.


These are not easy decisions and I recognize this is very disruptive to the college experience. However, our top priority is the safety of everyone on our campus. We are committed to working to ensure that coursework will progress unimpeded.


I want to acknowledge the hard work and care shown by our faculty, staff, administrators and Trustees in making this difficult decision. Because this is an evolving situation, please continue checking the COVID-19 information on for further guidance and stay alert to ongoing updates from the College.




President Mary Lou Retelle

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Coronavirus and Pandemic Preparedness: An Interview with Dr. Greg Ciottone


Anna Maria College Expert Discusses Coronavirus and Pandemic Preparedness
Dr. Greg Ciottone Leads College’s Health Emergency Management Program


Dr. Greg Ciottone, Medical Director of Anna Maria College’s Health Emergency Management Program, discusses Coronavirus, the public health response, how communities and organizations can prepare for pandemics and the future of emergency management. Anna Maria College offers a first of its kind graduate program, providing health professionals with the leadership, organization and communication skills to take on elevated roles during health emergencies and disaster events. Dr. Gregory Ciottone is a nationally recognized leader in the health emergency management field. He is author of the leading textbook in the field, Ciottone’s Disaster Medicine. He also holds an appointment as associate professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School.

This interview is featured on episode 83 of OA on Air (advance to the 20:05 minute mark to begin Dr. Ciottone's segment)

  • Dr. Ciottone, is the panic over coronavirus warranted? How readily does this new coronavirus spread and how deadly is it?
  • Panic is never warranted, rather an appropriate response based on the data is. The Coronavirus is not entirely understood yet, but appears to spread in a fashion similar to influenza. Good personal hygiene practices like hand washing, coughing and sneezing into one’s elbow, use of hand sanitizer solutions, etc. all will limit transmission. What I tell people is to conduct themselves as they do during influenza season.
  • What do people need to know to protect themselves?Is the focus on containment the right operational response?
  • Concerning self-protection, as stated above, personal hygiene practices are most important. Concerning the use of masks, people do not need to use masks everywhere they go. If you are ill, a mask is good to use so you do not spread to others. If you are caring for an infected patient as a healthcare worker, wearing a mask, such as a N95 mask is good to do as well. The practices used during annual influenza outbreaks should be used now.

In my opinion we should make attempts to contain this outbreak, but at the same time understand that it will most likely spread throughout the world as influenza does. More than 1 billion people globally are infected by the influenza virus every year. I believe we will see similar numbers for COVID-19. Having said that, we must also understand that this is not the Ebola threat of 2014-15. At this time COVID-19 has an apparent mortality rate of 2%, though I suspect that will decrease as time goes on and we discover that more people are actually infected. To compare, mortality rates, influenza is typically .1-.2% but at times higher, SARS was 10%, and Ebola is 50-70%. Unlike Ebola, where 100% of infected cases required intensive utilization of hospital resources, over 80% of COVID-19 cases require no treatment at all, 15% require medical care, and 5% require intensive care.

  • What are the top things a municipality or organization should be prepared to do during a pandemic?
  • It is imperative that municipalities and organizations have functional emergency management (EM) infrastructure in order to develop preparedness plans for all emergencies. In the case of an outbreak like this, emergency managers should develop and update response plans based on data from the CDC and WHO. These plans will likely evolve over the course of the outbreak, so EM operations should be ongoing.
  • We think of emergency management as a government role, but should the private sector do more?
  • Emergency Management should be an integral part of all governmental and private sector organizations to some degree. Contingency planning is crucial for the development of resiliency and, as I say to my students: Better the planning than the plan. This is to say that because every disaster and crisis is different, it is better that you learn how to plan….how to pivot…..than to rely solely only on the plan itself, as it will surely change during the event.

In the wake of the growing number of natural and man-made disasters and disease outbreaks, the demand for trained professionals to anticipate and manage response efforts for these kinds of events has been steadily increasing. To meet this need, Anna Maria College is collaborating with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Fellowship in Disaster Medicine to provide a one-of-a-kind Master of Science in Health Emergency Management program for medical graduate students and trained health professionals, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants, paramedics and EMTs. More information about the Master’s Health Emergency Management Program is available at

Or for more information about Anna Maria Colleges Undergraduate Emergency Management go to this link

About Anna Maria College
Located just outside of Worcester in Paxton, MA, Anna Maria College is a private, co-educational institution inspired by the ideals of the Sisters of Saint Anne. We prepare students to become ethical leaders by combining a values-based, service-focused education with strong functional knowledge and the skills necessary to address the rapidly changing needs of their world. Anna Maria delivers undergraduate and graduate degrees along with certificate programs on campus and online. For more information, visit

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Men’s Basketball Coach Named Coach of The Year by GNAC

Coach Conrad

The Great Northeast Athletic Conference recently announced the men’s basketball postseason awards and Anna Maria College head coach Shawn Conrad was named the 2019-2020 Coach of the Year. This is the third time during his 14-year career he has received this honor (2013 and 2015).


“Coach Conrad loves the game of basketball and is an extraordinary coach whose teams play unbelievably hard day in and day out. His players would run through a wall for him,” said Joe Brady ’96, Director of Athletics. “What sets him apart most is the depth at which he cares for his players and their success on and off the court. This team was a lot of fun to watch all year and I am happy for Coach Conrad on receiving this well-deserved honor.”


The AMCATS finished the season 11-16 overall and 6-5 in conference. The preseason coaches’ poll had Coach Conrad’s squad at tenth. Coach Conrad led AMCATS earned the fourth seed in the conference tournament and hosted St. Joseph’s College (ME) in a quarterfinal game. The AMCATS defeated the Monks 82-66 to advance to the semifinals against number one seed St. Joseph’s (CT). The AMCATS fell to the eventual conference champion Blue Jays, who are currently ranked 14th in the national poll and will play in the NCAA Tournament.  The AMCATS had key wins during the year over NEWMAC foe Clark and NESCAC member Bowdoin along with GNAC regular season wins over St. Joseph’s (ME), Johnson and Wales and Lasell.


“To win this award over coaches such as Jim Calhoun and Mitch Oliver, who have built extraordinary programs is quite humbling, and an extreme honor,” said Conrad.


About the GNAC (Great Northeast Athletic Conference)
The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) is an NCAA Division III association made up of 13 member institutions and over 3,000 student-athletes across the New England region. Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors and administers 20 championships, while balancing academic integrity, athletic opportunity and community involvement in an effort to enhance the student-athlete experience. 

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Careers in Emergency Management

HEM offerings


Emergency management is the organization and management of the resources and responsibilities for dealing with all humanitarian aspects of emergencies, including preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery. Anna Maria College trains students to become professionals who are vital members of the communities, organizations, and local, state and national agencies while planning and preparing to respond to crisis when needed.


Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management

The field of emergency management is expanding rapidly. Current and future emergencies are more likely to be complex, span boundaries, and require coordinated, collaborative leadership to protect the public and its resources. Students participating in the emergency management program will be prepared to build community resilience and sustainability, and engage in planning and response that overcomes challenges. The program empowers students to acquire knowledge, skills, and practical applications that represent best practice within the field of emergency management.

Masters of Science in Health Emergency Management

Anna Maria College offers a first of its kind graduate program, providing health professionals with the leadership, organization and communication skills to take on elevated roles during health emergencies and disaster events. Graduates will be prepared to effectively plan and integrate a survivor-focused, ethics-based collaborative community response to emergencies and disaster events.

Certificate in Health Emergency Management

A Certificate in Health Emergency Management from Anna Maria College was designed for the student with an advanced degree interested in pursuing the specific knowledge in the field of emergency and or disaster management. This certificate is based on acquiring a total of 12-13 total credits. The certificate requires the learner taking two of the required courses listed below and having the option to choose any two of existing courses within the program. The Thesis (HEM 680) and HEM 709) Project Course are exempt.

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Anna Maria College and Paris College of Art Create Partnership to Expand Opportunities for Art Students

Partnership with PCA

Anna Maria College and Paris College of Art Create Partnership

to Expand Opportunities for Art Students

Interest in Art Therapy careers continues to grow


(Paxton, MA) – March 2, 2020 – Anna Maria College and Paris College of Art today announced a five-year partnership initiative that will encourage academic coordination and cooperation between the two institutions to provide art students an opportunity to study in Paris, France and Paxton, Massachusetts. Students admitted to the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Paris College of Art will spend two academic years in France before having the opportunity upon reaching their junior year to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Art Therapy degree program at Anna Maria College. The partnership will also give Anna Maria College students new opportunities to study in France.

Art Therapy is a growing career field that offers art students opportunities to combine creativity and psychology to assist diverse populations facing challenges in life, such as illnesses, addictions, and educational or behavioral impairments. The Art Therapy curriculum at Anna Maria College is balanced between art, psychology, and human services courses. The program requires specific courses in Art Therapy, Therapeutic Internships, as well a year-long capstone experience. The B.A. degree prepares students for a Master’s degree program in Art Therapy and Art Therapy licensing through the American Art Therapy Association. In the junior and senior years, advanced course work is designed to run concurrently with community field placements to afford students the opportunity to observe and work alongside professionals.

“This is a solid and promising relationship for our students and institutions,” said Linda Jarvin, President of Paris College of Art. “It opens doors for students looking for new opportunities on both continents to apply their creativity and art education as therapeutic careers expand.”

Paris College of Art promotes the artistic and intellectual maturation of promising students into exceptional artists, photographers, designers, and design managers. The two institutions will maintain and share course equivalencies to facilitate credit transfer and provide a smooth transition for transferring students.

“We are excited to associate Anna Maria College’s Art Therapy program with Paris College of Art,” said Mary Lou Retelle, President of Anna Maria College. “As an institution, we are at the forefront when it comes to offering majors in the creative and therapeutic arts. The enormous healing benefits of art, music and other treatments can now be found at hospitals, senior care facilities, social programs and in addiction recovery programs. We look forward to welcoming these international students, but more importantly, appreciate the global perspectives they will bring to our campus and curriculum.”

At Anna Maria College, study abroad is open to students in all majors and programs. Over a third of Anna Maria’s accepted students have and continue to express interest in study abroad opportunities. In recent years, Anna Maria students have studied in over 18 countries across North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Anna Maria also offers faculty-led spring break and summer trips.

Anna Maria College is expecting its first PCA junior year students from this articulation agreement in two years. Eligible students must complete four semesters in Paris College of Art’s Fine Arts program, maintain a sufficient GPA to qualify for transfer in the junior year and are responsible for all travel arrangements, housing, and living expenses. Students coming to Anna Maria College will be eligible for student housing. At the successful completion of the 126-credit Art Therapy program, students will receive a degree issued by Anna Maria College.


About Paris College of Art

Founded in 1981, Paris College of Art (PCA) is a private university in Paris, France. The university is a US degree granting institution of higher learning and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). PCA’s mission is to provide the highest standard of art and design education, taught within an American pedagogical paradigm, while being influenced and informed by our French and European environment. Our international faculty is comprised of 100 leaders in the art, design, and business industries in Europe and courses are taught in English. PCA offers an interdisciplinary education for students coming from 50 different countries, and awards Bachelor’s (BA and BFA), and Master’s (MA and MFA) degrees as well as study abroad, certificate, and summer programs. Additional information is available at


About Anna Maria College

Located just outside of Worcester in Paxton, MA, Anna Maria College is a private, co-educational institution inspired by the ideals of the Sisters of Saint Anne. We prepare students to become ethical leaders by combining a values-based, service-focused education with strong functional knowledge and the skills necessary to address the rapidly changing needs of their world. Anna Maria delivers undergraduate and graduate degrees along with certificate programs on campus and online. For more information, visit

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Special Olympics Massachusetts; a Valued Partnership

Special Olympics MA


Special Olympics Massachusetts; a Valued Partnership

By Maureen Halley


Last week, Anna Maria’s Athletics Department hosted a full day of basketball games for Special Olympics Massachusetts. Teams from all over Massachusetts came to campus for a great game-day experience, including the Thrive Skyhawks, Milford Dribblers, Westboro Wallabies, Mass Jayhawks, Shrewsbury Colonials, Mass Celtics, Mass Super Swish, and the Mass Sure Shots.


Anna Maria’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) organized the day's event and ensured all staffing needs were met. Student-Athletes from every team on campus volunteered their time to help cover various jobs that included refereeing the games, operating the scoreboard, announcing games and lineups, playing music, and even coming to support as fans. The Anna Maria cheerleading squad was also in attendance to cheer on the athletes during all of the games played.


SAAC president Hannah Mitchell ’20 felt the experience was great, for both the visiting players and the Anna Maria student-athletes who volunteered in support of the day. “I feel that the event went phenomenally well and its success is due to the hands-on efforts of all of the volunteers, executive board members, and our advisors, Lindsey Garvey and Brooke Brigham”, Mitchell observed.


SAAC celebrates a tradition of volunteerism and has partnered with Special Olympics Massachusetts over the years to provide meaningful experiences to its athletes.


Working as a team, Paul Phillips, Assistant Athletic Director for Alumni and Community Engagement, Head Women’s Soccer Coach Lindsey Garvey, and SAAC Coordinator and Head Field Hockey Coach Brooke Brigham helped to coordinate the day-long event. “We were honored to host Special Olympics Massachusetts and aimed to provide the best possible game day experience for the players”, said Garvey. “Today was filled with sportsmanship, energy, and experience for the players. SAAC has been a cohesive unit in preparing for the Community Games and I am so proud of their enthusiasm surrounding the event. They worked diligently to coordinate participation from all Anna Maria teams and generated outstanding support”, she concluded.


Special Olympics Massachusetts (SOMA) is dedicated to instilling confidence, improving health, and inspiring a sense of competition in its athletes. Events like the tournament hosted by Anna Maria help to bring the power and joy of sport and shift the focus to what the athletes can do, not what they can't. 


When asked what the event meant to the players and coaches, Neil Bentley, Head Coach of the Westboro Wallabies said “Today was all about the sportsmanship—hearing people cheering for the players no matter which team scored. There’s a real sense of comradery and we are very appreciative to Anna Maria for setting us up and hosting such a well-run event.”


About The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC)

A student club with representation from every team on campus, SAAC represents the student-athlete voice on Anna Maria’s campus. Club members identify significant student-athlete issues, implement initiatives, and focus on encouraging community outreach and enhancing student-athlete involvement in understanding the Division III experience. SAAC is also the committee that is primarily responsible for maintaining and coordinating the division’s nationwide partnership with Special Olympics by coordinating with Special Olympics Massachusetts.


Click here to view a photo album of the day's event!

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The Role of Higher Education in the Addiction Crisis



The Role of Higher Education in the Addiction Crisis

By James DiReda, LICSW, PhD

 direda post dataquote

To hear that we are currently experiencing a “crisis,” or “epidemic” when it comes to substance use/addiction probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. One need not look very far to witness the damaging effects of these substances on those using them, and the families and communities they come from. Most cities and states, organizations, communities and families have felt first-hand the devastation of addiction. Regardless of which statistics you look at, the number of addiction-related deaths continues to grow, robbing us of our most precious resource, our youth. Everyone is affected by this issue in one way or another, and we need to come together to bring about change. 


If we are going to effectively address the problem of substance use/addiction, we need to understand the problem, which will require educated citizens and well-trained professionals and para-professionals. We will also need to come together to share our knowledge, experience, and ideas about the challenges faced, which is done by developing and hosting conferences and seminars aimed to do so, and learn from experts in this field. One such expert is Dr. Ruth Potee, who will be presenting at Anna Maria College’s Zecco Auditorium on March 19th at 4:30 pm. Dr. Potee is a well-known and highly respected physician, whose expertise in treating addiction and teaching style make her presentation dynamic and powerful as well as current and informative on all addiction-related issues, including vaping.


In keeping with our mission, Anna Maria College is well-positioned to be that place where stakeholders can come together to connect, learn, and share research and effective treatments as we work toward change. Our role as educators is to produce well-trained workers, who understand substance use/addiction and recovery, preparing them to enter the agencies and organizations who work with the addicted population and those affected by its collateral damage. Creating an environment where students from all disciplines can learn, practice and research issues around substance use/addiction is key to preparing the professionals needed in our community agencies. 

Since 2013 Anna Maria College has made the focus on substance use and addiction a top priority, and has developed a Minor in Addiction Studies, hosted conferences and guest speakers to address substance use and addiction issue, and is working toward developing an Addiction and Recovery Resource Center. The goal is to provide training and education, and conduct research on substance use/addiction.     


To attend Dr. Ruth Potee’s lecture on the Physiology of Addiction and the Effects of Drug-taking Behavior on the Brain, please register here. This event is funded by a grant from the Reliant Foundation.


Dr. DiReda holds a dual Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Work from Boston University, and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut. He is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with over twenty-eight years of direct clinical experience in the field of mental health and addictions counseling. He has served as an advocate, treatment provider, researcher, and teacher working with individuals and families, schools, hospitals, treatment programs, jails, private and not-for-profit organizations around issues of mental health and substance use. He is a member of the Boards of Directors at AdCare Educational Institute, and the MA Organization for Addiction Recovery (MOAR). Dr. DiReda is an assistant professor of Social Work in the School of Professional Studies at Anna Maria College and is a founding partner at Lake Avenue Recovery in Worcester, MA.

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It’s First and Ten – On and Off the Football Field

NYT blog cover v2

Photograph by Hilary Swift for the New York Times.


It’s First and Ten – On and Off the Football Field

By Mary Lou Retelle


I hope by now you’ve seen the profile of Anna Maria College in the December 27, 2019 New York Times story written by Bill Pennington, a veteran New York Times sports journalist. To receive this attention in one of the nation’s most preeminent newspapers is a true honor. The story focuses on our football program, but we made sure to highlight everything that makes our campus special -  a supportive culture that encourages engagement, compassion, and service - and how that translates from on the field to off the field.


When interviewed for this article, I was asked to describe what I believe the value is with having a football program at Anna Maria. My response to the question was that aside from the strengths of the academic offerings here, football helps to create a unifying factor for our community. It increases school spirit and creates a fuller experience for our students by way of tradition and increased activity on campus during the weekends. Football games, the energy of the crowd, and the associated tailgating engage students, families, alumni, faculty and staff. And, they are truly fun to attend.


The story and photos ran on page one of the New York Times sports section and was picked up by other newspapers and media outlets around the country. I’ve included a hyperlink to the story below.


By way of background, this past fall the New York Times sports section embarked on a comprehensive look at the state of football in America. The series of articles looked at the game from multiple perspectives, including the evolving narrative about football as a sport, the impact of football on a small Ohio town, future concepts for helmets, how football connects military families on deployment back to home, and of course health and safety.


As part of this series Bill Pennington came to visit Anna Maria College. Mr. Pennington had researched that over the last decade, 23 colleges across all divisions had dropped football. However, 66 institutions, including Anna Maria College, added football in that same time period. Mr. Pennington wanted to know more about our football program – what were the factors behind its inception, its positive impact on overall enrollment and diversity, and why we believe going forward that it’s an important part of our athletic offerings and overall campus experience.


Mr. Pennington was incredibly interested in our student-athletes, coaching staff, and mission. He also wanted to know more about how a football program at Anna Maria College – that hasn’t always been competitive – is so directly connected to the academic achievements of our athletes and such an important part of campus life. He spent three days on campus, attended practices and a game, and tailgated with our fans.


Athletic Director Joe Brady, Head Football Coach Dan Mulrooney and the entire football team, along with several members of our faculty and staff helped provide Mr. Pennington with an in-depth view into our campus culture and how our football program is one way we help open doors of opportunity for students. Our student-athlete Kevin Supan told Mr. Pennington about how the support and encouragement of coaches, faculty and staff has helped him raise his GPA and aspire to a career where he can apply his college degree.


I am so proud that Anna Maria College was so prominently featured in the New York Times. I think the article accurately captures the advantages of our close-knit campus community, the passion and spirit of our students, and how introducing football to our campus supports the overall college experience. The fact is that our enrollment has grown over the decade not only because of football and other sports, but also because of our diverse academic offerings, strong community connections and service opportunities, and our incredibly engaged campus community.


Thanks to our coaching staff, athletes, faculty, staff and Trustees for spending time with Mr. Pennington. I hope you will share this story with your friends.


Mary Lou Retelle became Anna Maria College's 11th President on June 1, 2015, following nearly a year of service as the College's interim President. During her tenure, she has led a strategy to establish the College as a leading higher-education provider of service-oriented degrees through the pursuit of creative new programs; to advance its mission as one that integrates a liberal arts foundation with professional preparation; and to strengthen Anna Maria’s core values including service to the community, inclusivity, moral responsibility, and development of the whole person.

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Fall 2019 Dean's List

Deans List

Congratulations to the students who made the 2019 Fall Dean's List:


Julianna Acosta   Aada Kunto
Lucrecia Acosta Larrama   Yvonne Lamptey
Hezekiah Adeyeye   Richard Laporte
Obim Agbeh   Jordin Laraia
Richard Amsel   Connor Lavin
Alex Angelo   Natasha Leary
Phillip Antonucci   Juliet Leask
John Antwi Kwarteng   Shannon LeBlanc
Eunice Asare   Marc LeBlanc
Annabelle Austin   Sabrina Liston
Kirsten Avery   Maria Julia Losi Gil
Jessica Barbera   Tatyana Lugo-Gardner
Kathryn Barnes   Pearl Lutta
Brendan Bartlett   Alyssa MacDonald
Derona Beckford   Juliet Maglitta
Madison Belanger   Kaitlyn Magner
Vanessa Belliveau   Alyssa Mancini
Sarah Benites   Jarrod Marifiote
Shayla Bernadel   Christine Martin
Kaylee Besse   Emily Martin
Adam Black   John Marzec
Daniel Black   Mario Maturi
Paul Boisvert   Kade McCartin
Elisabeth Borneman   Christopher Mcclure
Rebecca Botteri   Brody Mcdougal
Carli Boudreau   William McGoughran
Hayden Braga   Shana McGranor
Matthew Braz   Calli McLaughlin
Scott Brooks   Jennifer McNally
Karlyn Brown   Kendall McNamee
Ethan Burney   Anne Melanson
Rachel Burwick   Krystal Melendez
Perqusia Caldwell   Danielle Mello
Megan Canavan   Zion Mercado
Gina Carbone   Cassandra Miller
Mariah Carey   Dillon Milliron
Amanda Carlson   Jessica Miranda
Cassparina Carlson   Hannah Mitchell
Mollie Cashin   John Moffat
Bianca Cassanelli   Christian Molina Flores
Daniel Cavic   Scott Montefusco
Abigayle Celata   Hailey Moore
Adrianna Celeste   Hayley Morin
Alexyss Chaves   Noah Morning
Angelica Chavez   Alex Myers
Karoline Ciance   Lilian Nakayiwa
Caleb Cimini   Jacob Nash
Taylor Cordova   Erlin Nelson
Zachary Cormier   Emily Ngo
Louis Costanzo   Alexander Nichols
Riley Cote   Magdalene Njuguna
Isabella Cotto   Kylee Norris
Laurie Cowgill   Phylicia O'dell
Richard Craver   Angel Ortiz
Samuel Cyr Ledoux   Sydney Owen
Carly D'Amato   Amanda Pachico
Jordyn D'aniello   Nicholas Palermo
Lillian Dack   Marylee Panient
Trista Daley   Katie Parker
Rachel Davis   Brandon Pavoni
Nicholas DeAntonio   Audhinn Pelletier
Alyssa Denoia   Patrik Peltola
Jean Desmarais   Jacqueline Pereira
Danielle DeVito   Robert Perette
Diandra Doble   Ian Perla
Grace Dodge   Tyler Perron
Giselle Domantay   Cameron Perry
John Dombrowski   Darcie Peters
Brandon Dorsey   Jason Phillip
Peter Dziergas   Michael Pillarella
Serena Eastwood   Hailey Ploga
Lucas Ehrlich   Meghan Pope
Connor Enberg   Gavin Proeh
Brock Eskildsen   Delia Regan
Destiny Esparra Monfreda   Caitlin Reynolds
Jessy Eugene   Laisha Rodriguez
Alexandra Faucher   Julie Rogers
Jaime Fernandes   Alyssa Ruggiero
Alexis Fischer   Julia Rutkowski
Kayla Fitzgerald   Katelyn Sable
Michael Flynn   Panajoti Samarxhi
Shannon Foley   Bradley Sampson
Regan Forss   Barbara Santos
Dawnisha Franklin   Hailey Shaw
Monica Frew   Annalise Sherman
Alexander Friend   Karleen Shorette
Sabrina Gabriele   Mark Siegel
Katrina Gagner   Jack Sitzman
Camryn Gallagher   Joshua Slaney
Taylor Gamble   Natalie Smith
Daniel Gangemi   Mikayla Smith
Madelyn Gannon   Julia Smith
Ashley Garcia   Jacob Smith
Gage Garcia   Meghan Sonia
Jacey Garron   Alexander Sorenti-Burns
George Gehring   Ariel Squier
Jessica Gelineau   Whitney St. Germain
Audrey Gendall   Sophia St.Onge
Jason Gibbs II   Eric Steeves
Meghan Gillis   Lisa Stefanick
Nathan Giron   Doriela Stoja
Deanna Gloster   Liam Stone
Jorge Gomez   Garrett Strain
Joao Goncalves   Haley Sullivan
Drew Goupille   Ha Tang
Matthew Grauer   Hang Tang
John Green   Kelley Tarani
Naomi Griswold   Elizabeth Tokarowski
Valentina Guevara Medina   Zoi Traiforos
Rayssa Guimaraes   Jocelyn Trifiro
Madison Haley   Carmen Troncoso
Sarah Hall   Alana Trotto
Erika Hansen   Nathan Trull
Ryann Hassett   Remy Tupper
Katherine Heffernan   Allison Uccello
Christian Herget   Kentrahvey Vellom
Courtney Hile   Bridget Venuti
Noah Holland   Dylan Vincent
Jonas Hostovecky   Juliana Wahl
Jacqueline Howlett   Matthew Waite
Taylor Hubert   Cole Walling
Samantha Hume   Meaghan Walsh
Julius Huset   Peter Walsh
Benedetto Iaboni   Emerson Warren
Brian Iarussi   Abigail Warren
Bianca Jean   Alyssa Wentworth
Ryan Johnson   Dream Whitaker
Matthew Kelley   Mary White
Patrick Kenary   Edwin Woods
Joseph Kessler   Allison Woodward
Bryan Kiley   Joshua Wozniak
Malik Kirnon   Nyleem Wright
Molly Knox   Sara Yablonski
Raymond Konde   Jacob Zablocki
Isabella Kozciak   Luke Zimmermann
Emily Kropo   Seth Zolda
Nicholas Kukuris   Emilee Zuidema
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