Driving from the West Side highway through the Broadway district toward Grand Central Station then turning back west onto 43rd St. to cross 5th Ave, I realized what an amazing location for UTS, Manhattan. The 43rd Street building was my home in the summer of 1980. It is a home where I have experienced many “occasions”. This occasion, the UTS alumni networking breakfast, was a “new life” event for me. Thirty years ago I wouldn’t have pictured myself in this room with about 30+ remarkable and accomplished leaders. Several of the UTS graduates have received distinguished acknowledgements from “the world”, yet most significantly, I saw my alumni brothers and sisters as leaders of a new world. They had taken the UTS experience and had become messiahs in an area of their unique calling.
Robin and Patricia Graham and members of the UTS Board lovingly put together the event, family style. We had a brief round the table introduction. Like any big family gathering, light joking evolved. I enjoyed the dispute between our Canadian alumni brothers Frederick Lacroix (UTS’94), Serge Brosseau (UTS’98) and Franco Famularo (UTS ’94) over how long it really takes to drive from Montreal to NYC. One alumnus calculated the distance from his Tarrytown home to 43rd street in jogging hours. Others did not have to travel quite as far, like Greg Davis (UTS’89) who lives on Long Island and works in broadcast media.
Instead of home movies, we had power point presentations: from Robin Graham (UTS’80) – the “Play Soccer Make Peace” program), Robert Beebe (UTS’84) – a Principled Approach to Education, Alan Saunders (UTS’96) – Leadership and Character Development), Dr. Richard Panzer (UTS’79) – The Future of the American Family, and Gordon Anderson (UTS’78) – Developing Political Theory consistent with Divine Principle. I must confess I missed some of the presentations as I became engrossed in a conversation with Jim Borer (UTS ’80) and Marty Eisenberg (UTS’79) which went well beyond the break.
Grandma did not cook breakfast. No ham, bacon, sausage, eggs, grits, gravy and biscuits. Instead, grapes, carrots, bagels, croissants, oatmeal, coffee and tea was the style of this family – physical food lite and spiritual food rich.
Like many family reunions, a few members couldn’t travel the distance, but were still present in our hearts. One of our sisters, Ginger Nicholls (UTS’86, from my graduating class, received the UTS Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement. Ginger has been a missionary in Nepal with her husband for 14 years. Henry Christopher (UTS’80) was present to receive his UTS Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement for his extensive public relations work in the Barrytown and neighboring communities. Henry spoke of his work, as if he was a kid at a carnival. He totally enjoys the outreach and involvement in the Red Hook area. He demonstrates a true parent’s heart of embracing an extended family.
Almost everyone got an opportunity to have their “5 minutes of fame” in the room – sharing their life. I sat on a booster seat of grace to be at eye level between Frank Kaufmann (UTS’79), Interreligious and Intercultural Ambassador for True Parents, and Alan Saunders, international consultant and advisor on moral education. When Tamie Wilenchik (UTS’78) introduced herself as having a UTS degree of LSBA (Looks Smart by Association), I felt a bond. She and I were surrounded during our time at Barrytown by such competent and qualified fellow students Abdou Gaye (UTS’97) shared about his family and life teaching French at a community college near Kingston. Mike Mickler (UTS’77) continues to live in Barrytown and teach at UTS. Dmitry Vilchitsky (UTS’07) has made Rhode Island his home, a long way from his native Belarus.
We were only about half a dozen alumnae sisters in the room: Karen Beebe (UTS’83), Amy Cuhel-Schuckers (UTS’83), Patricia Graham (UTS’80), myself and Tamie. Perhaps the name “networking” breakfast neurolinguistically appeals more to the masculine power-connect aspect of our family- or perhaps other alumnae sisters are really busy with their lives. My overall impression is that the morning breakfast and conversation was a family style gathering with a purpose – to stay in touch and perhaps make new connections, new ventures together and create new good things.
As I was leaving, Jeff Kingsley (UTS’90) approached me with his wife’s card. He explained how Maya’s work and my work seem to have a good fit. Maya is a Food Psychology Coach and I am an LMSW therapist entering a specialty in eating disorders. When my slow brain finally put Maya together with Kingsley, I realized he was talking about my dear MFT sister who shared many special divine growth experiences with me in my early church life. Wow, what a new life treasure to reconnect with my sister!
The return to an old home, past connections and memories of Dr David Kim (UTS and David Kim always go together in my mind) flowed into the “new birth” which I currently find happening in my life. Thank you Robin, the UTS AA Board and everyone who made this gathering happen. Let’s do it again!
Suna Senman-Lane (UTS’86)