When OpporTUNEity® Knocks, You’ll Want to Listen.

OpporTUNEity blog


When OpporTUNEity® Knocks, You’ll Want to Listen.

By Maureen Halley


OpporTUNEity, the music program at Anna Maria College designed to raise academic and behavioral outcomes for children in our most impoverished communities has a new partner. In conjunction with the Worcester Country Sherriff’s Office, adjunct professors Dan Thomas and Thomas Wilson co-taught a 12-week songwriting course to inmates at the Worcester County House of Corrections.


Each week, the inmates learned a new element of songwriting and were encouraged to work in teams to develop songs incorporating those elements (ex. rhythm variety, lyrics and poetry, instruments, etc.).  Students enrolled in Anna Maria's music program worked with different groups each week to help the student inmates craft songs and prepare them for performance at the end of each class session. After the completion of a 12-week course in songwriting, 13 inmates from the Worcester County House of Corrections performed a concert comprised of their original songs.


On his Facebook page, Lew Evangelidis, the Sherriff of Worcester County shared the following:

“The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is proud to share with you video from our first-ever music concert at the jail performed in December. In partnership with Anna Maria College, the music program is called OpporTUNEity. The concert was the culmination of months of practice and hard work by our inmates learning to read music, write songs and play instruments. For these inmates this music is about sharing their stories in song and verse about the perils of addiction and a new life in long-term recovery. Music has an incredible therapeutic benefit.”


Simply put, music isn’t just music – it’s therapy.


Inmates who completed the course received certificates from the College, signed by Dr. Christine Holmes, Vice President for Academic Affairs. The OpporTUNEity® Songwriting program at the Worcester County House of Corrections is expected to continue in the Spring as plans are in place to offer both Songwriting Levels I and II.


About OpporTUNEity

The OpporTUNEity Music Connections Program at Anna Maria College raises academic and behavioral outcomes for children in our most impoverished communities by providing enriching musical opportunities. Founded in 2014 by Dr. Melissa Martiros, OpporTUNEity utilizes strategic partnerships with Worcester Public Schools and Worcester Housing Authority to engage Anna Maria’s undergraduate students majoring in Music Therapy and Music Education through internships with children from Lincoln Street Elementary School.


The concert was held on December 13, 2019 and can be viewed here.


OpporTUNEity songwriters video


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Anna Maria College Receives Reliant Foundation Grant

Reliant checkpresentation

From left to right: Dr. John Pratico, Director of Psychology at Anna Maria College; Cynthia Monahan, Trustee, Reliant Foundation; Dr. James DiReda, Assistant Professor of Social Work at Anna Maria College; Kelsa Zereski, President, Reliant Foundation; Mary Lou Retelle, President of Anna Maria College; and Tom Sullivan, Board Chair of Reliant Foundation


Anna Maria College Receives Reliant Foundation Grant
Reliant Foundation grant to support the Substance use, Outcomes, Barriers and Efforts to Recovery (SOBER) Project


(Paxton, MA) – December 19, 2019 – Anna Maria College announced that its Addiction and Recovery Resource Center (ARRC) has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Reliant Foundation. The funds will be used to support the College’s latest project on addiction and recovery. Called the SOBER Project, the initiative focuses on Substance use, Outcomes, Barriers and Efforts to Recovery.


“Anna Maria College has a number of students gaining experience in addiction and recovery education through classroom courses, clinical and experiential learning opportunities,” said President Mary Lou Retelle. “The SOBER Project expands on the college’s efforts to increase the quality and quantity of mental health practitioners and substance use treatment providers in Massachusetts.”


The SOBER Project will work to reduce problems stemming from addiction to opiates and other substances as well as secondary problems such as homelessness, joblessness, and family distress. The program will also work to improve community outcomes through specific mental health practitioner, medical practitioner, allied health and law enforcement training that will improve service delivery in Worcester and the surrounding townships.

“Anna Maria has made clear its commitment to investing in addiction and recovery education,” said Kelsa Zereski, Reliant Foundation president. “We’re proud to support the college’s endeavor to bring these critical, hands-on programs to its students.”


About Reliant Foundation

Established in 1988 as a public charity, the Reliant Foundation (formerly operated as the Reliant Medical Group Foundation) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of individuals of all ages in the Central and Metro West regions of Massachusetts. As a 501(c)3 charity, the Foundation offers grants to non-profit organizations within its service area for the purpose of supporting programs that battle critical public health issues like the opioid epidemic, children’s mental health and childhood obesity. For more information, please visit www.reliantfoundation.org.


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Triple Your End of Year Gift with the Caparso Challenge


Caparso giving challenge


Triple Your End of Year Gift with the Caparso Challenge

By Bridget Leung-Rogala 


Donate ButtonWhen you make a gift by December 31, Richard Caparso, a former trustee, has pledged to double it! Thus, the amount of your gift will be tripled.


With your renewed commitment, we’ll continue to build a college that upholds high standards for education, impact, and outcomes.

 Caparso mulrooney

When you and other alumni, parents, and friends make a contribution to Anna Maria, you help deserving students realize their dream of attending college. Gifts like yours enable us to provide the life-changing experiences that define an Anna Maria education.


“When I reflect upon my commitment to the college I believe it was because the mission and values of the college have always correlated with the way my parents raised me, said Mr. Caparso. “As a son of an immigrant. I was taught to work hard, serve and respect others, be honest and forthright and to make myself a contributing member of my community. I have always admired and respected how Anna Maria has sought to instill these same characteristics within their student body and felt privileged to have played a role as a trustee to assist the college in achieving this goal. I long ago served the college but the college has always been a special place for me.”


About Richard Caparso

Mr. Caparso is the founder of Vanguard Group of six companies, that included Vanguard Investments, a real estate management and property management company based in Central Massachusetts. He has been involved in residential and commercial real estate development projects since the 1970s, including a $5 million historic rehabilitation of a major portion of downtown Southbridge in 1981.


For over 40 years, Mr. Caparso has had a great impact at Anna Maria College through his service as a Trustee. He was first named to the Board of Trustees in 1979, shortly after completing a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the college. In 1983, Mr. Caparso was appointed Chairman. He was later awarded an honorary degree for Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa, in 1986 from the college. He received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Northeastern University.


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Nursing Students Believe that Giving Back is the Norm, Not the Exception

A Tradition of Giving Back


Officers of the Anna Maria College Student Nurses Association, joined by Nursing Faculty from left to right: Shannon LeBlanc, Vice President;
Amanda Dubeau, Secretary; Dr. Karin Ciance, Marie Remillard; Brittany Decker, President; Alexis Kunesch, Treasurer

 stacked nurse donation

Nursing Students Believe that Giving Back is the Norm, Not the Exception

By Maureen Halley


The officers of the Student Nursing Association self-identify as women with “big hearts and always willing to help others”. Shannon LeBlanc, a senior and Vice President of the association feels strongly about what it means to be part of a community. “As nurses, we have chosen a field focused on service – it’s in our nature”, Shannon shared. “We are fortunate to be part of a warm and supportive atmosphere here at Anna Maria – and it just makes you want to give back all the more.”



An annual tradition since 2011, the Anna Maria College Student Nurse Association along with nursing faculty come together to collect comfort items for those who are less fortunate within greater Worcester. This year, the nursing students collected socks for Veteran’s Inc. during Homecoming Weekend, and toiletries for Abby’s House, an organization that works to provide shelter and affordable housing, as well as advocacy and support services to homeless, battered, and low-income women. The donations were delivered to both organizations on December 11, 2019.


“It’s so important to band together and support others”, said Brittany Decker, who also travels as a volunteer with Campus Ministry on service trips in other areas of the country. “The mission of Anna Maria really resonates with me and my classmates; giving back is the norm, rather than the exception.”


In their senior year, commuting students Alexis Kunesch and Amanda Dubeau believe that there is a tremendous sense of family on campus. They both share in the sentiment that at Anna Maria, “everyone cares about you; not just about your academics or your position on any athletic team – but about your wellbeing. It’s all about paying it forward.”

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Annual Christmas Festival Concert

christmas concert


Annual Christmas Festival Concert

By Maureen Halley


On December 8th, the Anna Maria College Music Department performed its annual Christmas Festival Concert featuring Winter Songs by Ola Gjeilo, J.S. Bach, Victoria, along with other holiday favorites.


The Concert Chorus and Chamber Choir were conducted by Reagan Paras and accompanied by Dr. Melissa Martiros along with the Chamber Orchestra. As a special treat, the Burncoat Middle School Chorus, directed by Andrea Cook, joined Anna Maria students to perform two beautiful pieces. In addition to the vocal talents of the music department, Anna Maria’s Wind Ensemble, directed by Miriam Jensen, entertained guests with a variety of pieces together to bring us into the Christmas spirit. 


Anna Maria College Concert Chorus

Reagan G. Paras, Director

Melissa Matiros, Accompanist


Winter Songs; Ola Gjeilo (1978-Present)

The Rose

Ecce Novum

Days of Beauty

The First Nowell - Soloists: Teresa Terlato and Azadoria Ray

Ave Generosa

Home - Pianist: Sonya DiPietro

Away In A Manger - Soloists: Jessica Castle and Katelyn Sable

First Snow

The Holly And The Ivy


Anna Maria College Chamber Choir

Reagan G. Paras, Director


O Magnum Mysterium; Thomâs Luis de Victoria (1548-1611)

Ave Maria (Angelus Domini); Franz Bibel (1906-2001)

Lully, Lulla, Lullay; Philip WJ Stopford (1977-Present)

Angels We Have Heard on High; Matthew Culloton (1976-Present)


Anna Maria College Concert Chorus & Burncoat Middle School Chorus

Reagan G. Paras, Director

Andrea Cook, Director

Melissa Matiros, Accompanist


Send Me A Song; Riona Ni Dhubhghaill (1975 - Present)

Christmas Canon; Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) arr. Andy Beck

Hallelujah Chorus; George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)


Anna Maria College Wind Ensemble

Miriam Jensen, Director


Legacy for Band; Claude T. Smith (1932-1987)

Perthshire Majesty (Musical images of County Perthshire, Scotland); Samuel Hazo (1966-Present)

Sea Songs; Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958)

Cajun Folk Songs; Frank Ticheli (1958-Present)

- La Belle et le Capitaine

- Belle

A Huntingdon Celebration; Philip Sparke (1951-Present)

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring; Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Transcribed by Erik W. G. Leidzen

      1. Toboggan Ride; Stan Applebaum (1922-Present)

A Canadian Brass Christmas Suite; Adapted for Band by Calvin Custer (1939-1998)

Including: Jingle Bells, Good King Wenceslas, Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming,

Carol Of The Bells, Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful


Click here for images from the Christmas Festival!

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Politics and The Media

politics media19dec9



By Travis Maruska, Associate Professor of Humanities at Anna Maria College


Over the past few years, a great deal has been made about President Trump’s use of Twitter to stoke the fires of controversy and command headlines. To be sure, the current resident of the White House enjoys speaking directly to the people and holds the more traditional forms of media, such as newspapers and television, at arm’s length, especially when they disagree with him.


But while Trump’s use of Twitter might be unorthodox and even crude at times, it would be a mistake to say that he is taking advantage of new media in a way that has never been done before. Certainly, Twitter wasn’t around in the 1950s, but throughout history, politicians, and especially presidents, have used new forms of media to their advantage, either as a way to disrupt the status quo or to try to maintain peace and calm in times of strife.


The arrival of modern media, specifically radio, actually started with politics. The first commercial broadcast on November 2nd, 1920, announced the election of Warren G. Harding as president. Radio had actually been around for a couple of decades by that point, but the legalities and battles over ownership had held up its commercial use (which is true of any new form of media – if you don’t believe me, just watch The Social Network).


Radio would become an important part of American politics and public life all throughout the 1920s and especially the 1930s, the “Golden Age of Radio,” when 90% of Americans owned their own radio at home. No president benefitted more from radio than Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was president from 1932 until his death in 1945, elected four times. During the Great Depression, Roosevelt used radio to calm the public and try to avoid runs on the bank, which threatened to upend the American economy. These “fireside chats” became even more important when World War II started. Roosevelt would speak directly to the public and give them information firsthand about what was going on overseas and how their boys were doing against the Axis Powers. Roosevelt understood very early on the advantage of using media to help promote his politics and connect with the everyday American.


Of course, hearing the voice of a leader and seeing his or her face as they speak are two very different things. When television arrived in the late 1940s, after World War II, it was a fast growing phenomenon. By the mid 1950s, 26 million Americans had television sets, and while Roosevelt used radio to calm down his people, another politician, Senator Joseph McCarthy, used this emerging form of media to create panic and division in America. “McCarthyism,” as it is now called, was the period of time when the senator heralded a witch hunt for supposed communist agents hiding out in plain sight. He questioned the loyalty of anyone who opposed him, accusing them of being communists as well, often without any reasonable evidence. This made it difficult for other leaders to stand up to his bullying tactics.


In McCarthy’s struggle for power, television was a major asset. According to historian Jon Meacham, “To McCarthy, the new medium created nearly unlimited possibilities to dominate the public consciousness, and he valued performance over substance.” Knowing the value of capturing the headlines, McCarthy would often call press conferences in the morning, simply to announce there would be another press conference in the afternoon, at which time he would reveal a new witness or some other tantalizing surprise. He knew how to bait his public, to capture their attention, and the reporters had no choice but to print every radical or misleading statement he made.


Television was also a major factor in the race for president in 1960. The first televised presidential debate took place on September 26, 1960, between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon. The race was extremely close, but the appearance of Jack Kennedy on TV, with his good looks, charming New England accent, and calm demeanor, contrasted greatly with Nixon, who didn’t understand the power of the new medium and said he didn’t require any make-up to improve his color as he overcame a cold. As a result, Americans who watched the debate believed Kennedy had won it, while those who tuned in on their radios believed Nixon had sounded more presidential. Kennedy went on to win by a narrow margin, and many historians credit the debate, and television, for his win.


After a few more decades of television, the arrival of cable and the exponential growth of television programs, it is no wonder we elected our first actor/president in 1980. Ronald Reagan had starred in many movies throughout the 1950s before becoming governor of California and running for president in the 1970s. He had a natural cadence and delivery when on screen, and his debate with President Jimmy Carter in 1980 introduced the American public to his charm. Although the oldest elected President, Reagan would become one of the most popular presidents of the 20th Century, winning a landslide reelection in 1984 in which only one state did not vote for him (Minnesota, the home state of his opponent). His grandfatherly personality was reassuring in the last years of the Cold War, perhaps similar to Roosevelt’s calm demeanor fifty years earlier, and while Reagan suffered his share of controversies and was even accused of being senile in his final days, he is still remembered as the most significant Republican president in recent decades.


Presidents since Reagan have also not lacked in charm, whether it be folksy charm, such as with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, or inspirational charm, as with Barack Obama. But in a striking contrast to Reagan, we now have our first Reality TV President. Whereas a traditional Hollywood actor would memorize lines and deliver a commanding performance that had been carefully constructed, a Reality TV star gains fame and notoriety by being surprising, unpredictable, and sometimes even villainous. Combine that with a never-ending Twitter feed, and we have a president who enjoys stirring the pot, commanding headlines much like his predecessors, and capturing our attention throughout the 24-hour news cycle, often in spastic, unorthodox ways.


It will be interesting to see how long President Trump can continue his time in the spotlight and his rampant use of Twitter. While Roosevelt enjoyed an unprecedented four terms (since then, presidents have been limited to two), he also only gave a little over thirty direct addresses to the public in all of those twelve years. Roosevelt knew not to abuse his powerful line of communication. McCarthy, on the other hand, abused his media privilege, crying wolf to the reporters on many an occasion and exhausting the general public after just three or four year of communist anxiety. As a result, he was censured by his own Senate and quickly fell out of favor.


While it is fair to say President Trump is taking advantage of a new form of media, it must also be acknowledged that presidents and politicians have always used the media, especially new media, for better or worse, throughout their time in elected office. Social media is still a relatively young enterprise, and we are wrestling with its reach and power, much like we did when television first arrived. For many of us, it will still be some time before we can look back and have a more objective view of how this president is using his new form of media to the benefit or detriment of the American public.


Travis Maruska is an Associate Professor of Writing in the Department of Humanities at Anna Maria College. He received his MFA in Screenwriting from Chapman University in 2006 and has since written several screenplays, one of which was a quarter finalist in the Nicholl's Competition in Hollywood. He is currently working on his first novel and teaches courses on composition, media studies, screenwriting, film studies, and various film genres.

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Stories from the Inside



Stories from the Inside

By Maureen Halley


Inmates serving at the Bureau of Prisons, Devens MA came to Anna Maria College on November 19th to share their personal accounts about life on the street and what led them to incarceration. Accompanied by Commander Robyn Coons, LICSW, social worker at Devens, the inmates spoke about the challenges they faced with addiction, attempted recovery, setbacks, and lost opportunities. They also spoke in depth about the power of reflection, which all believe is critical to dealing with the consequences of their actions.


“Acceptance is a critical part of the process. Self-reflection in particular; everything that caused me to be here is because of me. Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my actions”, said an inmate currently serving a term of 176 months in federal prison. “Relapsing is easy so you’ve got to give recovery the time it’s due; shortchanging the process is disastrous.”


Each inmate spoke about their downfall in detail, but they also spoke about the value of counseling and lessons learned including personal accountability, improved decision-making, and most important, understanding the impact that their behavior had on their families. When one of the inmates spoke of resolving problems, he was very quick to say, “Use your support systems – don’t attempt it on your own. Talking with others isn’t a sign of weakness.”


incarceration body pic


The visiting inmates are part of a program that enables them to share their difficult stories in different venues as part of their own recovery, as well as preventing others from making similar mistakes. Students from across campus attended this presentation and when asked about what they learned, shared some interesting observations, including the following:


  • The stories have strongly influenced me and empowered me to help support people who deserve a chance to succeed and overcome their obstacles.
  • This program has the capability to change someone’s life and prevent someone from making a life changing mistake. There should be more programing like this, because it can be so beneficial.
  • I appreciate that the speakers brought in today were very open about their stories. We can only learn from honest, reflective individuals. Programs like this one expose students to important realities in life.
  • Although these four men have committed crimes, I understand their side of the story and I feel empathy for them. A lot of their problems were derived from a rough childhood. “Nature versus nurture” has a lot to do with taking the path down the wrong road.


This unique and thought-provoking presentation and discussion was sponsored by Anna Maria College’s Social Work Programs and The Molly Bish Center for the Protection of Children and the Elderly.

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2019 Anna Maria College Scholarship Reception

program blog


2019 Anna Maria College Scholarship Reception

By Maureen Halley


The College welcomed 87 members of its community on November 17th to participate in the annual Scholarship Award Reception. Guests included scholarship donors, student recipients along with their family and friends, and members of the leadership of Anna Maria College.

 scholarship pagecontent


After lunch had concluded, President Mary Lou Retelle delivered the welcome address and thanked all those in attendance for the role that they play in effecting positive change in the world. She was followed by Suzanne Chapdelaine Kelly, a member of the class of 1959 and a former Trustee, who spoke about her personal relationship with the College and her perspective as a donor. The third speaker was Maugline Laurent, a current student and scholarship recipient who shared a bit about her experiences at Anna Maria and how the generosity of scholarship donors have made that possible.


Anna Maria offers 20 named scholarships as a result of our donors, and these were presented during the program to 65 students demonstrating high academic achievement.


2019 - 2020 Scholarships

  • George I. Alden Trust Scholarship
  • Alumni Association Scholarship
  • Anthony Arthur Scholarship
  • Bibbey Family Scholarship
  • Molly Bish Scholarship
  • Dorilla T. Brûlé Scholarship
  • Mary Anne Callebaut Scholarship
  • Sr. M. John of Carmel Scholarship
  • Jean ’64 and Bernard Cooney Scholarship
  • Jacqueline Sequin Dumas Scholarship
  • George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation Scholarship
  • Honorable Francis J. Larkin Scholarship
  • Archibald R. Lemieux Scholarship
  • W. H. Lee Milk Co. Scholarship
  • Mary Mourin Memorial Scholarship
  • Marcelle Quintal Arthur Endowed Memorial Scholarship
  • Joseph & Jaqueline Sharry & Barbara Gallo Lyman Endowed Scholarship
  • Silverman Scholarship/AMC Scholars
  • Janet C. Simonds Scholarship
  • George Socquet Scholarship
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Campus Princess Program Celebrates Second Anniversary

CPP anniversary


Campus Princess Program Celebrates Second Anniversary

By Maureen Halley


After only two short years, the Campus Princess Program has grown to be an organization comprised of 60 students at Anna Maria College. Since its inception, the student volunteers have given over 300 hours to making children smile. The students travel to children’s hospitals, care centers and therapy locations dressed up as special fantasy characters from film and comic books. The program’s slogan “Ever Moment Matters,” reflects this believe in the idea that one small moment can turn around a whole day, week or even a lifetime because with magic, anything is possible.


“No matter an individual’s situation, there are good moments in each day if we only look for them,” said Alyssa Banks, Founder of Campus Princess Program. “What started as an idea has flourished into an organization and I am so excited to celebrate all that we have been able to accomplish in just two years.”


The Campus Princess Program has had the opportunity to spread magic to Boston Children’s Hospital, UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Tufts Medical Center, Shriner’s Hospital, Camp Sunshine, Kennedy Donovan Center, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Bay State Children’s Hospital, Why Me & Sherry’s House, Cater 2 Kids OT, UMass Cancer Walk, Boston Children’s Eversource Walk, Gillette Stadium’s Annual Buzz-off for people fighting cancer and Notre Dame Pediatric Palliative Care Center. The program was voted Organization of the Year 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 by Anna Maria students.


The Anna Maria College Campus Princess Program and the AYJ Fun will host the Winter Wishes Ball on Saturday, December 7, 2019 at 6:30pm at the Southeast Dining Hall.



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Jonathan Kirk: Sculptural Abstractions and Other Fabrications 23 October – 20 December, 2019

caparso field dedication


Jonathan Kirk: Sculptural Abstractions and Other Fabrications

By Maureen Halley

Kirk exh bodypic

The Art Center Gallery at Anna Maria College presents Jonathan Kirk, Sculptural Abstractions and Other Fabrications from Wednesday, October 23 through Friday, December 20, 2019. This exhibit is open to the public, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Jonathan Kirk, originally from Saffron Walden, Great Britain, lives and works in Utica, NY. He spent twenty years as the manager of Sculpture Space, has shown extensively in solo and group exhibitions. He is the recipient of numerous grants and awards. He is known for large scale public works as well as the more intimate studio maquettes on view in Sculptural Abstractions and Other Fabrications.  These latest sculptures continue to deal with issues of form and open-ended narrative, taking cues from industrial and naval architecture, and the natural world. Kirk has developed a unique method of construction using wooden tiles, which allow him to quickly build, alter, and deconstruct these works in a nearly sketch-like manner.


Kirk’s recent sculptures made with this method are displayed in the round and on the gallery wall. The exhibit becomes a contemplative space for the forms under consideration, allowing the viewer to muse over the various narratives presented.


The exhibition of a guest artist each semester exposes students, the college, and community to a diverse range of contemporary art. An accompanying catalog further explores the artist’s work and will be available for sale at the Art Center Gallery. All are invited to attend the Opening Reception on Wednesday, October 23 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm, which features a discussion between Jonathan Kirk and Gallery Director Darrell Matsumoto.


Anna Maria College, School of Liberal Arts & Science, Department of Art & Design

Art Center Gallery at Miriam Hall, 50 Sunset Lane, Paxton, MA 01712


Exhibition Catalog Available Contact David Wackell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Online at magcloud.com and search for Anna Maria College

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Anna Maria College Mourns the Passing of Trustee Brian O’Connell

Brian O'Connell
Anna Maria College mourns the passing of Trustee Brian O’Connell.
Mr. O’Connell had served on the Board of Trustees since 2008. Chairman John Spillane issued the following statement on behalf of the Board of Trustees:


“In Brian O’Connell’s passing, Anna Maria College has lost a respected leader who dedicated himself to education. He was an insightful presence on our Board and our friend. Brian was so knowledgeable and always thoughtful. It was a privilege to serve with him. Our institution benefited greatly from his extensive experience in education and with the City of Worcester. We will miss him deeply. The Board of Trustees and the entire Anna Maria College community extend our heartfelt condolences to the O’Connell family.”


President Mary Lou Retelle stated, “Brian O’Connell was an invaluable leader, tireless advocate and trusted resource for Anna Maria College. He believed unfailingly in the importance of education at all levels and always put students first. His many years of service on our Board helped to make Anna Maria stronger and more successful. I will miss his wisdom and insights, but most of all his friendship. We mourn his loss will remember Brian and his loved ones in our prayers.”    

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Dedication of the Richard Caparso Field

caparso field dedication


Dedication of the Richard Caparso Field

By Maureen Halley


During the 2019 Homecoming festivities, Anna Maria College celebrated alumnus Richard C. Caparso, a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, with a ceremony that dedicated the athletic field in his honor on Saturday, October 19. 


Mr. Caparso, his wife Joan, and their family and friends, joined Anna Maria College President Mary Lou Retelle, members of the Board of Trustees, Athletic Director Joseph Brady, and Head Football Coach Dan Mulrooney for a pre-game ceremony.

 caparso team

“My relationship with Anna Maria College started with receiving my MBA and continued on, serving as chair of the board of trustees,” said Mr. Caparso. “When I reflect upon my commitment to the college I believe it was because the mission and values of the college have always correlated with the way my parents raised me. As a son of an immigrant. I was taught to work hard, serve and respect others, be honest and forthright and to make myself a contributing member of my community. I have always admired and respected how Anna Maria has sought to instill these same characteristics within their student body and felt privileged to have played a role as a trustee to assist the college in achieving this goal. I long ago served the college but the college has always been a special place for me.”


“The entire Anna Maria College community is forever grateful to Richard Caparso for his generous gift of $250,000,” said Mary Lou Retelle, President of Anna Maria College. “The Richard Caparso Athletic Field sits at the entrance to our campus where it welcomes all of our visitors, students, parents and alumni. It’s where our students compete, but more importantly it’s where our campus community comes together as one to support our values and everything that makes Anna Maria College special. An Anna Maria education is about the whole person – mind, body and spirit – and Mr. Caparso honors us with this wonderful athletic resource.”


Mr. Caparso is the founder of Vanguard Group of six companies, that included Vanguard Investments, a real estate management and property management company based in Central Massachusetts. He has been involved in residential and commercial real estate development projects since the 1970s, including a $5 million historic rehabilitation of a major portion of downtown Southbridge in 1981.


For over 40 years, Mr. Caparso has had a great impact at Anna Maria College through his service as a Trustee. He was first named to the Board of Trustees in 1979, shortly after completing a Master’s degree in Business Administration at the college. In 1983, Mr. Caparso was appointed Chairman. He was later awarded an honorary degree for Doctor of Business Administration, honoris causa, in 1986 from the college. He received his Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Northeastern University.

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Congratulations to Alyssa Banks ’21, a Mechanics Hall Collegiate Apprentice Award Recipient

 Alyssa Banks


Recognized for her demonstrated leadership skills, creative and innovative ways of approaching the world, excellence in academics, and her willingness to become involved in the community, Alyssa Banks was one of the recipients of the Mechanics Hall Collegiate Apprentice Award. The ceremony honoring students from Worcester area colleges was held on October 5, 2019.


An honors student in the Nursing Program, Alyssa plans to work in the pediatric oncology department at a children’s hospital. Working with children with terminal illnesses is nothing new to Alyssa. As the director of the Campus Princess Program, she organizes visits and actively recruits other students to dress as princesses and superheroes to bring magic to children in hospitals.


About the Award

The Mechanics Hall Collegiate Apprentice Award is a natural extension of celebrating student excellence emerging from the vision and achievements of our community of higher education, characteristics that have been important to the Worcester County Mechanics Association since its founding in 1842.

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John Henry Newman, the Liberal Arts, and Anna Maria College


 John Henry Newman web


John Henry Newman, the Liberal Arts, and Anna Maria College

By Marc Tumeinski, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology & Program Director of Graduate Theology


On the 13th of October 2019, John Henry Newman will be formally recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint, as someone who demonstrated a recognizable commitment to the Christian life and who sets a positive example for others. What is particularly interesting for us at Anna Maria College is that, beginning in 1851, Newman worked to establish what eventually became University College Dublin (Ireland). As part of this founding, Newman gave a series of lectures, later collected in a book entitled The Idea of a University (1852). In these talks, he emphasized a number of core ideas:

  • the centrality of the liberal arts
  • the cultivation of excellence
  • the value of nurturing the development of the whole person
  • the search for truth in an atmosphere of peaceful dialogue
  • the creation of a collegial environment that would foster mutual and harmonious relationships among students and faculty

Sound familiar? It should, particularly when we consider the mission of Anna Maria College:

As a Catholic institution inspired by the ideals of the Sisters of Saint Anne, Anna Maria College educates students to become individuals who will transform their world as ethical leaders and community-oriented professionals.


While they lived in different parts of the world and never met, it is remarkable to consider that in 1850 Marie Anne Blondin founded the Sisters of St. Anne with the charism of providing faith-based education to children from poorer families, just a few years before Newman established a Catholic university in Dublin, opening up the first institution of higher education in Ireland that was accessible to Irish Catholics.


Newman believed that through a liberal arts education, a student learns to apprehend:

the great outlines of knowledge, the principles on which it rests, the scale of its parts, its lights and its shades, its great points and its little … A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are, freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom … Liberal Education, viewed in itself, is simply the cultivation of the intellect, as such, and its object is nothing more or less than intellectual excellence (‘Knowledge its own end,’ in The Idea of a University).


Furthermore, Newman called not only students but faculty in different disciplines to cultivate collegiality. He certainly lived up to his own demands. Newman was in charge of the administration of the university but also taught, and lived in one of the university houses along with eight students, taking responsibility for their common residential life.

Regarding intellectual collegiality, he pointed out that faculty should:

by familiar intercourse and for the sake of intellectual peace … adjust together the claims and relations of their respective subjects of investigation. They learn to respect, to consult, to aid each other. Thus is created a pure and clear atmosphere of thought, which the student also breathes (‘Knowledge its own end’).

This respectful atmosphere of thought and dialogue is evident at Anna Maria–in the classroom, office, performance space, residence hall and communal area. Students, faculty and staff have many opportunities for constructive dialogue on a range of academic, political and social topics. These opportunities invite earnest reflection, active engagement with each other, critical thought and the sharing of ideas in the common pursuit of truth.


Newman also understood the importance of the university becoming a vital part of the local community. Faculty gave lectures open to the public, for example, and the university offered evening courses for students who worked during the day. Newman identified a need for trained doctors in Dublin, and so the university opened a medical school.

In honor of the saint, let us consider what we might learn from the example of John Henry Newman as we continue to work together to carry on the mission and values of Anna Maria College and the charisms of the Sisters of St. Anne. Newman’s life and writings can inspire us as we strive together for ‘something greater.’

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New Undergraduate Majors Offered

New College Majors
To be successful in a rapidly-changing business climate, graduates must be technology savvy, have the ability to navigate risks and challenges, and recognize opportunity to drive change in a responsible and sustainable way. These four new majors will prepare students to not only successfully compete and contribute in their respective fields, but to do so as trained ethical leaders and community-orientated professionals, the hallmark of an Anna Maria College education.

Health Administration

As the large baby-boomer population ages, the healthcare industry as a whole will see an increase in demand and strain on resources. The Health Administration major is an applied business degree that prepares students with the theoretical business foundations as well as the practical skills required for careers including health information management directors, business analysts, practices administrators, clinical directors, and health services managers.

Digital and Social Media Design

With the rise of digital and social media, there is a growing need for communication professionals that can create messages that will resonate with multiple audiences. The Digital and Social Media Design degree will teach students to understand how to think clearly, critically, and creatively in response to communication challenges through the use of digital media design. Not only will they learn to create compelling content, but they will also study how this media can impact all facets of the marketing mix including website traffic, customer relationships, and brand messaging.


Digital Marketing
The future of digital marketing is rapidly changing, which requires an understanding of marketing and technology needed to drive the marketing efforts of business. The Digital Marketing major has an interdisciplinary approach that combines applied theory and hands-on learning to explain digital marketing strategies, tactics, and tools. Coursework focuses on business principles, research and analytics, marketing and communications, search engine marketing and optimization, video, digital and web design, social and mobile media marketing, and consumer behavior.

Video and Photographic Arts

Visual communication is a critical component of the marketing mix because it’s one of the most effective ways of passing along information. The Video and Photographic Arts degree focuses on the ways the human mind processes information in images across multiple platforms, including digital, web, and print. Students pursuing this degree will develop technical and aesthetic skills while learning to use equipment and software for still photography, videography, and digital editing. The combined experience of professional practice, internships, and capstone project prepares students to work within the field of media communications as visual content producers, storytellers, or documentarians.

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Feminists for Life President Serrin Foster to present her speech THE FEMINIST CASE AGAINST ABORTION at Anna Maria College on Monday, September 30.



Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life of America, will deliver her acclaimed lecture, “The Feminist Case AgainstAbortion,” at Anna Maria College. She will speak at 5 PM in Zecco Auditorium in Foundress Hall. Her lecture will focus on the pro-life history of the feminist movement and makes the case for why feminists should take a stand against abortion.


Serrin’s landmark speech, "The Feminist Case Against Abortion," has been recognized as one of the "great speeches in history" in an anthology called Women's Rights.


Founded in 1972, Feminists for Life is a national nonpartisan, nonsectarian, grassroots organization that continues the efforts of the early American feminists, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, to systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion by facilitating practical solutions. Feminists for Life has emerged as the link between pro-life and pro-choice organizations, working on legislative efforts such as child support enforcement and the Violence Against Women Act, and opposing the child exclusion provisions in welfare reform.


Feminists for Life helped to introduce groundbreaking legislation—The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act—that inspired Pregnancy Assistance Fund grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grants help put into hyper-drive new pro-woman solutions on campus.


FFL President Serrin M. Foster has led Feminists for Life of America since 1994. Under her leadership, FFL successfully advocated benefits for poor and pregnant women through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and worked in coalition with other women's organizations to defeat the mandatory "family cap" and other punitive child exclusion provisions in welfare reform. She helped to prevent poverty and coerced abortions due to threats to withhold child support through passage of the Enhanced Child Support Act. Serrin served on the National Taskforce Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, which worked to pass the Violence Against Women Act, and she also testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in support of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as "Laci and Conner's Law."


As the creator of the Women Deserve Better® campaign, Serrin has been an outspoken opponent of pregnancy discrimination and has focused on developing on-campus resources and support for underserved pregnant and parenting students. In January 1997, Serrin moderated the first-ever FFL Pregnancy Resource ForumSM at Georgetown University, which became a model for the country and in 2010 became the basis for Pregnancy Assistance Fund grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Serrin is editor-in chief of the online resource page, Women Deserve Better (www.womendeservebetter.com), featuring free, frugal, and creative solutions for pregnant women, expectant fathers, parents, and birthmothers at highest risk of abortion.


Serrin's efforts earned her an honorary doctorate from Belmont Abbey College in 2008 alongside Bishop Michael Burbidge, then Bishop of Raleigh, who is currently serving as Bishop of Arlington.


Serrin has been interviewed by ABC News, CBN, CNN, EWTN, FOX News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, NPR, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, CNN International, RTÉ, and many other news outlets.        

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Fewer Choosing Law-Enforcement Careers, But Support for Police Still High in Central Mass.

Policing in Central MA

Help wanted: Police officers. Must be willing to fight crime, handle crises and solve community problems. And oh yeah, you might get shot, be sued or have water dumped on you in the line of duty.


Interest in law-enforcement careers has dropped nationwide over the past several years, two recent studies report.


A survey released in July by the Center for State & Local Government Excellence found that policing was the hardest job to fill, with 32% of respondents listing it as a problem. That’s more than double the response from 2015, when 15% reported trouble hiring police.


Last year the U.S. Department of Justice reported that the number of full-time sworn officers per 100,000 population in the United States dropped by 11% since 1997, to 2.17 per 100,000 in 2016 from 2.42 per 100,000 in 1997. There were 701,169 sworn officers in 2016, down 3% from 724,690 in 2013.


The studies did not identify reasons for the decline. But some have suggested the increasing stress of the job, combined with heightened animosity toward police nationally, spread by social media and sensationalized coverage of police shootings, are driving away potential applicants.


Read More Here


Story written by Susan Spencer of the Telegram & Gazette Staff
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Anna Maria College Pays Tribute to the Fallen Heroes of 9/11

9-11 Tribute


By Maureen Halley


In an annual tribute, members of the Anna Maria College community gathered on September 11, 2019 to reflect on the 2,977 innocent lives lost in the devastating terror attacks 18 years ago. Held on the Campus quad at 8:30 a.m., Deacon Jack Franchi, a retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant (SMS), welcomed guests with a prayer. Remarks were delivered by Dr. James Carritte, Director of Fire Science Program and Eli Seiser, StCeremonyudent President of Anna Maria’s Emergency Services Association recited the Fireman’s Prayer, which was followed by the “Ringing of the Bell”. The bell, struck in three increments of three rings, symbolizes that the fallen have come home for the final time. A moment of silence was observed at 8:46 a.m.


In honor of the brave first responders who perished, students from the Anna Maria College Fire Science program were joined by Paxton Chief of Police Mark Savasta, Holden Chief of Police David Armstrong, officers from both police departments, and U.S. Air Force USAF members of Detachment 340 USAF ROTC based out of WPI along with the Command staff. This event was hosted by the Campus Ministry and Fire Science Department.

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Newly Renovated Bishop Flanagan Campus Center Opens with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Campus Center Ribbon Cutting

Featured from left to right: Ed O’Brien, President of Cutler Associates; John Spillane, ESQ., Chair, Board of Trustees, Anna Maria College; Mary Lou Retelle, President, Anna Maria College; Steve Canario, Business Development Director, Sodexo; Alexis Phillips, President, Anna Maria College’s Student Government Association (’20); Kim Kennedy, Vice Chair, Board of Trustees, Anna Maria College; Roger Stone, Senior Vice President, Citizen’s Bank; David Breen, Chief Operating Officer, Anna Maria College


Anna Maria College celebrated the official opening of the newly renovated Bishop Flanagan Campus Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, August 28. The $4.2 million renovation includes revamped seating areas, new handicapped accessibility, and newly replaced windows, doors and roof.


The completely reimagined interior is designed to enhance the student experience with new lighting, assorted seating layouts for single dining and group socializing, a fireplace feature wall, new Audio/Visual system, ramps, and outdoor dining patios. Altogether the renovations make for a more functional and expanded space. The fall campus also features a new football field. Several other campus upgrades are ongoing.

The improvements were funded by Anna Maria, the dining services company Sodexho and two Worcester philanthropic groups, the George I. Alden Trust and the Stoddard Charitable Trust.


Read more about the renovations in this Worcester Business Journal article.

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Inaugural Battle of the Badges

Battle of the Badges


On July 19-20, 2019, Anna Maria College hosted the inaugural Battle of the Badges, a hands-on educational program designed for students interested in public safety as a profession. Participants came from all over New England to learn about criminal justice, fire science, and emergency management – from experts in local, state, and federal-level agencies.


In addition to presentations by Joseph Early, the Worcester County District Attorney; Katherine Wilson, Supervisory Deputy, U.S. Marshal; Neal Mullane, District Chief of the Boston Fire Department; and Michael Nockunas, Retired Master Sergeant of the

Battle of the Badges Certificates

Program participants received certificates
completion from Anna Maria College

Connecticut State Police; students were provided with in depth demonstrations and lectures from many aspects of public safety including:


  • Violent Fugitive Apprehension and Role of Tactical Medics
  • SWAT Demonstration
  • Interactive Crime Scene Display
  • Canine Use in Fire and Explosive Investigation
  • Use of Drones in Public Safety
  • Boston Fire Fighting Equipment
  • Cyber Crimes
  • Forensic Criminology
  • Worcester Police K-9 Deployment


Battle of the Badges was a free educational program held on Anna Maria’s campus. Participants received unique instruction, meals and accommodations, and time for social activities, including kick ball, a bonfire, and the chance to compete in the first annual Battle of the Badges Dodge Ball Tournament. The 2019 Tournament winner was TEAM BLUE.


Click on the following links to view the news coverage of the program and photo album.

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