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When Ted Helped Alan

I imagine nearly every family in Massachusetts has a story to tell of how Senator Kennedy helped them out at one time or another. Mine follows.

In 1983, just as my brother Alan Boisseau was preparing to graduate from high school, a social worker visited our family’s home. It was the first time I ever met or saw a social worker. She was there to explain to my parents the sorts of programs Alan was eligible for until age 22 because he was mentally retarded.

Senator Ted Kennedy

No one had ever used that phrase before in our house. We all knew Alan was “slow” and had to take all “special” classes, could hardly read, and couldn’t write much more than his own name even at age 18, but we never really faced these facts or understood the consequences for Alan until that day. In that same conversation, the social worker expressed surprise and dismay at the news that Alan was going to graduate later that month, explaining to us that upon graduating from high school Alan could not claim to be “disabled” and therefore would not be eligible for training programs or other state-sponsored aid of any kind.

My mother absorbed all of this information-that her son was indeed mentally disabled, and that he was about to be denied opportunities that, up until that moment, we hadn’t even known existed-in a very short few minutes. She immediately contacted the high school principal to put a halt on the processing of Alan’s diploma. The principal, superintendent of schools, and school committee dug in their heels. Having passed Alan along from grade to grade, they insisted Alan was eligible for graduation and there was nothing we could do to stop the process now.

What was at stake, for the small town that I grew up in, was money-and understandably so. Our town, like many in central Massachusetts, was a poor former mill town. There was no money for much of anything-no swimming pool, no music classes, and nothing for the town’s “special” children. Those state-sponsored programs would require transportation, and it was town money that would have to be spent…unless Alan received a high school diploma, and then the town purse would be off the hook as he would be ineligible for help. It was one week before graduation.

My mother determined that she would access all she could for her son, yet felt she had run out of options. That same week she read a story in the Boston Globe about Rosemary Kennedy, Senator Ted Kennedy’s mentally handicapped sister. She called Senator Kennedy’s office to explain her plight and ask for advice. Kennedy commiserated with my mother and then made a personal call to the superintendent of schools in my hometown. He persuaded the superintendent to halt the processing of my brother’s diploma, and thus saved Alan from being excluded from opportunities for additional training during the next four years of his life as well as support as a disabled person beyond.

Kennedy may have shamed this school official-but, as it turned out, perhaps not quite enough. The principal called my mother to inform her she had “won” and that Alan would not receive a high school diploma that June. But there was a price, and it was to be paid emotionally by Alan, who would not be allowed to participate in the ceremonies or walk the stage. This official, someone who knew my mother well, counted on the fact that my mother could not face her child with this news-not the child who had been the butt of every bully, not the child who never won any prizes, who never boasted of any accomplishments, the one whom she now realized would never marry, never have children, probably never even hold a job or live on his own. To take this one source of personal pride and self-esteem away from him, at the last minute and so unnecessarily, was too much. My mother called Senator Kennedy’s office back.

Two days later, the news came that Alan would participate in our town’s high school ceremonies, receiving a blank certificate. He would appear last and not stand with all his peers; he would only mount the stage at the end after all the graduates had received their diplomas. We took the deal.

On graduation day, Alan, unaware of the controversy that had swirled around town for several weeks and not minding at all that he was last in line, was ecstatic and, in his usual warm-hearted and unself-conscious way, danced across the stage when his name was finally called. Too overcome with joy to merely shake hands with the principal, he threw his arms around the man in what I am sure was a suffocating bear hug. Smirks and giggles broke out in the crowd, but they were soon replaced with cheers and tears as Alan faced everyone with outstretched arms and called out “Thank you! Thank you all!” to the crowd. He simply would not leave the stage. The whole town was there; a small town turns out for high school graduations since nearly everyone is related to one of the graduates. Faced with Alan’s sheer unaffected joy, hearts melted and the townspeople leaped to their feet to give my brother the one and only standing ovation of his life. The town clapped for my mother too that day, many eyes turning with admiration to her for fighting for Alan’s moment in the sun.

Alan Boisseau, speaking at the State House after receiving an award for promoting self-advocacy.

Our family clapped and cheered for Alan, and for my mother, but the man we toasted later that day and the man I thank for this small but beautiful moment in my family’s lives was Senator Edward M. Kennedy-a man never too big, or too important, to recognize the smallest of human needs and to extend his hand in any way he could. I marvel at that spark of humanity in him. I’m humbled by it. And I will forever be grateful for it.

Twenty years later, my brother Alan stood at a podium at the State House in Boston to receive, on behalf of all mentally retarded persons in the state of Massachusetts, an award for helping to promote self-advocacy among his peers. My brother did not waste the efforts of Senator Kennedy, who had stood up for him; he now stands up for himself.

by Tracey Jean Boisseau, BA ‘85, associate professor of history at the University of Akron in Ohio

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It Says Love

From a sketch on a napkin to a retail shop in Quincy

On a mild summer morning in South Boston, a group of 12- to 14-year-old boys pours into the steel-and-glass EpiCenter building, shouting over the snaps of a snare drum and the dull boom of bass coming from a DJ booth. They are here for the Beantown Breakdown, a hip-hop convention of sorts in South Boston highlighted by a breakdancing competition. “Yo, these shirts are hype,” says one of the boys, approaching a vendor table covered in rainbow stacks of t-shirts and staffed by Jonathan Mendez, BA ’08, and his sister Olivia Chamberland, BS ’99, MS ’01, CAGS ’02, collectively known as Zamforia Industries.

Behind the table, Zamforia’s full wares are displayed-a radiant collection of their signature t-shirts featuring designs built around the word love spelled out in different languages. There’s a bright, fire-engine-red number with an antique white eagle spreading its wings and sporting a crown-an adaptation of Poland’s coat of arms-beneath the Polish miłość. An electric collage of red, green, and gold surrounds bold, blocky Amharic lettering on Zamforia’s Ethiopian shirt. A light tan shirt with fine green stitching spells out gra in Celtic green, spread from the heart to the left shoulder over a bed of hops and wheat.

Each of the boys takes a cartoonish yellow-and-red ZAM! sticker from a stack on the table. One of them peels off the back of the sticker and carefully places it on his backpack, pressing it neatly down to iron out the bubbles. Another affixes it to his pantleg. Others follow suit. Suddenly, there is a small army walking through the Beantown Breakdown marketing Zamforia. Neither Olivia nor Jonathan asked them to do it-it just came about naturally. Which is exactly the way Zamforia would have it. They understand that sometimes, the more you push, the more the market shuts down. “It’s not just what we’re selling here,” says Jonathan, reaching up to clothespin a few more shirts to the rack behind the table. “It’s how we are selling it.”

Zam stickers spotted around Boston and beyond:

Tomorrow, Zamforia will travel to the SoWa (south of Washington) market in Boston’s South End, an upper-middle class neighborhood of upscale brownstones. The crowds at each event, understandably, differ greatly, and creating a piece of clothing that appeals to both high school hip-hoppers in Southie and professionals in the South End would seem impossible. But Zamforia’s shirts allow everyone who sees them to find something different. It may be cultural pride for some. Or the eye-catching designs, with their hidden messages and meanings. Or maybe, like love itself, the shirts’ appeal is universal, as Jonathan likes to say.

Looking back on it now, his current role as the creative mind behind Zamforia makes sense to Jonathan. He spent his childhood days creating, occupying full days building worlds from Legos and K’NEX. In high school, his interest in architecture resulted in a small scholarship for a project that included sketching and planning a new house using his current home’s foundation. As an undergraduate at Suffolk, his friends were a creative group, and when he, too, began sketching and drawing, he’d often receive compliments on his work.

But for all of Jonathan’s creative abilities, Zamforia began with a drawing by Olivia. In late 2004, at a mandatory team-building seminar she attended for her job as a social worker for the state Department of Social Services, she went off on her own for one of the exercises, charged with drawing a picture. “It was supposed to be anything that made you feel happy, loved, safe-something that just made you feel good,” says Olivia, who now works as a personal trainer. She sketched a picture of her mother’s living room, a fire in the fireplace and her brothers Jonathan and Alex playing guitar. It was an admittedly simple drawing. But she sent copies to her brothers, accompanied by a brief explanation of how much she loved them.

Looking to return the favor, Jonathan, then a cash-strapped freshman at Suffolk, took the picture and redrew it as a Christmas present. Olivia was floored by the result. “It was amazing,” says Olivia. “Now it wasn’t a stick figure sketch anymore. It was colors, and designs, and decorations.” Jonathan had also surrounded the living room scene by the word love written in different languages. She blew it up to poster-size and hung it on her wall in a frame. At her apartment, Olivia showed her brother the poster. “Jonathan, these are amazing,” she told him. “I want you to make a logo because we’re going to make t-shirts that say love on them in different languages.”[flickr album=72157624798082116 num=5 size=Small]

The first version of the concept the duo produced was an olive shirt that spelled out love in Tibetan in yellow. To make sure they got the language and the feeling right, they visited a Tibetan restaurant in Cambridge one night in early 2005, camera and questions ready. They first approached the hostess, who called in the chef for help. The chef arrived, apron covered in food, to weigh in. Books were produced, and then a dictionary. Eventually six members of the restaurant staff joined in the discussion. Jonathan and Olivia walked away with notes on napkins, and pictures of pages from Tibetan dictionaries, confident that they had their first shirt.

For the first few years, there were just two: the one with love in Tibetan and one with the logo-the word love written as an ambigram, which reads the same way when turned upside down. While Jonathan spent a year studying in Spain, Olivia made displays for the shirts and carried them around to local holiday markets and high school fundraisers. “I figured I’d make a few shirts, just to make my sister happy,” says Jonathan. “But then she started really selling them.”

By 2007, the end of Jonathan’s junior year at Suffolk, he started taking the t-shirt business more seriously. He would stay in on Friday nights and work on designs for entire weekends at a time. “I’d wake up and all I would think about was the company.”

His breakthrough came after he designed the Polish version-the bright red shirt with the eagle-after heavy encouragement from Polish members of his family. “From afar, it is simple,” says Jonathan. “But when you look at it closely, it is completely abstract. These certain awkward shapes somehow make an eagle.” The shirts, Jonathan realized, could have more than one dimension. “That was the first time that I realized that the best way of doing this is to have very simple things [on the shirts], but within that simple thing, making it complicated and deep,” says Jonathan. “Just like love-simple and fun yet complicated and deep.”

Subsequent shirts offer subtle messages and hidden treasures-nods to narratives, to friends, to Boston. The shirts became more personal and more intricate as histories, cultures, and memories were woven throughout the designs.[flickr album=72157624797766628 num=5 size=Small]

On the Ethiopian shirt, a unicorn and lion-taken from the façade of Boston’s old state house-sit above the Amharic letters. The lion connects the shirt to both the city and Rastafarian culture, which reveres the lion as a symbol of former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie, who is believed to be God incarnate. In between them, a small scroll reads “I and I,” a reference to the Rastafarian belief that God lives within everyone. The Irish shirt contains not only a hidden dedication to a deceased childhood friend but also references to Cross, Anthony, and Orange Streets-an intersection that was at the center of the old Five Points neighborhood in Manhattan in the mid-1800s, populated by a great number of poor Irish immigrants and made famous by the film Gangs of New York. There’s also a personal hidden message that appears above the crown held by two claddagh hands-icons borrowed from the ring of the same name that represent love and friendship. It reads, “BE EC,” which Jonathan says stands for “Be Eric Clapton.” It’s a note to his young cousin Zach, whom Jonathan encourages to chase his dream of becoming a legendary guitar player.

The designs have become stories, with layers of meaning and depth. People taken in by the lush colors and eye-catching designs are then invited to see the second side. “Once you dig deep enough into it,” says Jonathan, “a whole other level pops up.”

Bostonians who haven’t seen the shirts may have seen the “ZAM!” stickers. Fans of the company have affixed them everywhere from light poles on Massachusetts Avenue to street signs in Chicago. The word is out, allowing Jonathan to bask in a bit of celebrity. “It’s kind of cool when you hand somebody a sticker, and they say, ‘Oh that’s you?'” he says. As Zamforia grows into a more serious operation, there are more questions to answer. “We’re putting money into it, we’re doing well, people love the product. Now how are we going to maintain that?” says Olivia. The goal, she says, is to go nationwide. Who knows? Maybe even international.
But the next step is a tricky one, as expansion can be a blessing and a curse. The ethos of cool requires a very fine balance of sales and singularity, which means not just selling their inventory to the first place that cuts a check for a box of shirts.[flickr album=72157624675020277 num=5 size=Small]

In October, 2009, four years after it all began, Zamforia opened a store at 188 Sea Street in Quincy, Massachusetts. “We have a command center,” says Jonathan. There is a lottery-winning kind of excitement in his voice as he ticks off all the wish list items that can now be fulfilled: “We have a shop, an office space, a studio for me, and storage.” He anticipates a Cheers-type atmosphere: “You know, where everyone knows your name.” A big, beautiful sign in the window reads: “Zamforia Industries-Home of the ‘It Says Love’ Shirts.” The new retail shop also coincides with a redesign of their web site, www.zamlove.com.

Though he has the natural self-assurance of a seasoned merchant, Jonathan says his plan for Zamforia is still in its early stages. “The way I look at it, we’re just a year into this thing,” he says. “We’re only at the beginning of what we really want to do.”

The grand plan includes the tentatively titled Zamfest, an annual music festival featuring local artists performing in the spirit of Zamforia. Jonathan believes that eventually Zamforia could become not only a business, but also an organization that gives back. Maybe someday, there could be “Zamforia campers” sent to other countries to learn about other cultures and become global citizens, he says.
But all of that is years away. “Right now,” says Jonathan, “We have to sell t-shirts.”

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Beyond the Milky Way

Imagination Meets Science in New Astrophyics Program

Tenerife, Canary Islands, late September 2009: a small team of Suffolk University students huddles tensely around the camera control computer on the 0.5-meter telescope of the Teide Observatory, 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level.

To use the telescope effectively, students must consider a host of mechanical and external factors and conditions: Will the sky remain clear? What is the wind speed? Is the shutter open? Are all the instrument settings correct? Will they be able to measure the spectral lines in their target star and determine its composition by spectral analysis? Is the star normal or peculiar?[flickr album=72157624666128719 num=5 size=Small]

This is not a scene from a postgraduate thesis project but from an undergraduate course in the new astrophysics track at Suffolk University. In collaboration with Spain’s Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), the program gives physics majors firsthand experience in observing the skies at a major international observatory, located at a dark-sky site on the Spanish island of Tenerife just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa. Back in Madrid or Boston, students will spend several weeks reducing and analyzing the data and preparing papers. For some of them it may be a turning point in their lives, an inspiration to pursue a postgraduate research degree in astrophysics.

“Thanks to the success of new technology such as the Hubble Telescope, star-gazing has become more than just a hobby,” says physics professor Walter Johnson. “Astrophysics is a fascinating area that examines the universe from both micro and macro levels. Think quarks to the Milky Way.”

A recent report published by the Astronomy Education Review indicates that 61 US colleges and universities offer students a track or major in astrophysics/astronomy. Nearly 20% of the approximately 2,600 students beginning graduate work in US physics 
programs each year are choosing to do their research work in astrophysics, making it the largest subdiscipline in physics.[flickr album=72157624665755717 num=5 size=Small]

The astrophysics program at Suffolk presents a solid introduction to both theoretical and observational astronomy, computational astrophysics modeling, and supercomputing. It also introduces physical science students to current knowledge about the nature of the universe and some of its most notable components. This content can be particularly useful for future high school physics and general science teachers.

The curriculum requires two semesters at Suffolk Madrid to complete most of the astrophysics coursework. Students will be learning in one of the most important commercial cities in Europe, as Madrid is the third most populous capital in the European Union and a major center for international business. Suffolk University has access to the Teide Observatory facility as the result of an agreement with the European Northern Observatory and its governing institution, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), the leading Spanish research center in the field of astronomy and astrophysics and host of the world’s largest fully orientable telescope currently in operation, the Gran Telescopio Canarias, also known as GranTeCan or GTC.

“The caliber of a resource such as Teide means that students will come out of the program with a much broader background in physics than is typical for most undergraduate physics majors,” says Johnson.

A major strength of the astrophysics program is its small size, making it possible for students to have one-on-one contact with faculty, thus emphasizing research-based learning. Its interdisciplinary approach to theory, observation, and simulation provides students with a strong background in relevant technology, programming, and mathematics as well as the science of astronomy. In addition, studying abroad exposes students to other cultures and potential employment opportunities. Inspired by the borderless skies they study, students can begin to look beyond national and cultural boundaries on earth and see the wider world as their home.[flickr album=72157624665859847 num=5 size=Small]

Faculty members Raúl de la Fuente Marcos and Carlos de la Fuente Marcos in Madrid; assistant professor of physics Prashant Sharma and physics professor and department chair Walter Johnson in Boston.
by Raúl de la Fuente Marcos

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Man on Board, for the Long Haul

As the tanker that would haul oil to Bahrain by way of Aruba and Naples picked up its crew in the slicing wind off Brooklyn Flats, Robert Brustein thought, “I’m going to be the loneliest man in the world.” It was 1945, and although the war had ended, his hitch in the service had a year and a half to go. He was 18 years old.

Robert Brustein, a central figure in 20th-century American theatre, joined Suffolk University's College of Arts Sciences in 2006 as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence, a permanent faculty appointment.

Following an accelerated course of study at the High School of Music and Art in New York City with a final year at Columbia Grammar School, Brustein graduated at 16 and entered Amherst College in 1943. The war had swept most of the students from the pristine New England campus, leaving only the underage and the 4Fs, those deemed physically unable to serve. “We ruled,” he says. “We were the football team, the baseball team, the drama club. One hundred-fifty kids.”

Enlisting for service in April 1945, he entered the Merchant Marine, which capped four months of basic training in San Mateo, California with six months at sea, eight months at the Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point, Long Island, and the rank of Cadet-Midshipman in the Naval Reserve. On one of his seven-hour monthly leaves from basic training on August 15, 1945, Brustein witnessed V-J day in San Francisco. “It was orgiastic. Women tore their clothes off in the street. People climbed to the top of huge statues. I’ve never seen a city go so berserk. And all I did was watch. The envious observer.” Continue Reading

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It’s A Musical Life

In New York, where you can see productions originating from Africa to Iceland, you can also see musicals this year that came from your own back yard, Suffolk University.

Three musicals originally developed by the Boston Music Theatre Project (BMTP), a program of the Suffolk University Theatre Department, had professional New York area debuts this season. The incredible circumstances are not the triumph of coincidence, but the result of a carefully crafted model and the tenacity of Theatre Department Chair Marilyn Plotkins.

Professor and Chair of the Theatre Department Marilyn Plotkins

Plotkins founded BMTP in 1987 as the first professional organization in the Greater Boston area dedicated exclusively to the development of new work in musical theatre. “I have a life-long interest in musicals,” says Plotkins. “BMTP was a natural outgrowth of my training, experience and professional interests.”

For the next 10 years, Plotkins partnered with local and national organizations and artists to develop new work, including Elmer Gantry, produced by the Nashville Opera and the Peak Performances series at Montclair State University in January, 2008, and Look What a Wonder Jesus Has Done, featured in the New York Music Theatre Festival this September.

In 1999, Plotkins integrated BMTP into the academic framework of the newly formed Theatre Department to engage Suffolk students in the development process. Crossing Brooklyn, a new musical by Laura Harrington and Jenny Giering, premiered off-Broadway in the fall at the Transport Group and was the first BMTP piece developed with students—but it certainly won’t be the last.

The hands-on experience of BMTP is a unique facet of the Suffolk Theatre Department and has inspired other in-house professional development opportunities, such as Wesley Savick’s National Theatre of Allston and Richard Chambers’ professional design apprenticeships. As the program continues to grow, so will the opportunities. Plotkins is currently in negotiation with two New York writers for the next BMTP project, slated for spring, 2009.

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Story Time With Uncle Joe

“The department chairman asked me what I wanted as a retirement gift so I told him I wanted an iPod,” says Education and Human Services (EHS) Professor Joseph McCarthy in reference to his sell-out Popular Songs seminar.

Education and Human Services Professor Joseph McCarthy

McCarthy, who retired in 2007, first came to Suffolk in the early 70s and has taught in both the EHS and History departments. Had he been an Oxford don in the 19th century, he would probably have been classified as a generalist. Then again, this would be an atypical Oxford don with his blue jeans, sneakers and Claddaugh earring.

McCarthy’s teaching career at Suffolk has moved from one area of interest to another. He created the university’s master’s degree program in Higher Education Administration, advised graduate students, taught freshmen, encouraged young history majors in their baccalaureate pursuits, and taught courses about World War II, medieval popular culture and the theory and practice of history.

“I always marvel at Joe,” says Dean Kenneth Greenberg. “He is such a great scholar who knows so many of these different ways of learning and knowledge. It’s remarkable.”

McCarthy taught his students that the worker, the scholar or the professional should have an unfettered intellectual curiosity. From the first day of a new course, he would say that his course would not be a pedantic regurgitation of names, facts and half-baked analysis, just “story time with your Uncle Joe.”

In the words of an old 70s soul song, there ain’t no stopping McCarthy now, because he’s on the move. On the South Shore of Massachusetts, he presides over a bit of the old agrarian Massachusetts where he splits logs and raises chickens that have claimed the blue ribbon at the annual Marshfield Fair for two years running, all the time looking after his grandchildren.

McCarthy will continue to teach and informally advise at Suffolk. He is a living connection to Suffolk’s days as that small upstart Beacon Hill institution educating commuter students. No matter what course he teaches, the fundamental lesson will always be the same: never lie about facts and never be afraid of ideas.

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Anatomy in the Earbuds

Professor Eric Dewar and students create a podcast for class

Students from Eric Dewar’s Anatomy and Physiology course huddle around a softball-sized orb balanced on a short metal tripod at the corner of his desk. They’re working on an extra credit project, recording a podcast into the space-aged looking microphone for class.

Dewar, a paleontologist and assistant professor in the Biology Department, is one of several professors in the College using podcasting in his courses, uploading lectures and class recordings to iTunes University and making course content as mobile as a browser or mp3 player.

“Part of what I wanted to do with this is meet students where they are,” he says. “But I also wanted to show students that scholarship or research in science isn’t something that requires a ton of buildup, it’s just what we do when we’re scientists and any way we can communicate our ideas is positive.”

The podcasts might be 10-15 minute lecture recaps or topics examined by students in small groups. “The thing I like about being able to involve students in the podcast is creating a sense of ownership,” he says. “Students have had tons of science by the time they get to college. But have they ever really done science? I want to model what a professional scientist does. Students can do this. It’s like an Amish barn raising, and when we’re done we have something we built ourselves and it looks nice.”

Students post the recorded podcasts online for their classmates. Eventually, some podcasts may reach a wider audience. “I’m hopeful that some student projects can be made publicly available,” he says, anticipating results from project-based laboratories, surveys, or data gathered from the basketball team, for example, to see what their oxygen consumption is like on a treadmill. “That’s the kind of thing we can post up on the public site and say, here’s what students are doing at Suffolk.”

“A student told me she was driving in her car, and her boyfriend was looking at her iPod and said, ‘What’s this anatomy thing you have? Oh hey let’s listen to it.’ To know that I’m somewhere between Beyoncé and 50 Cent in my students’ playlists I think is very funny.”

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Classics Galore

Professor George Kalogeris

For the first time in the University’s 101-year history, the College is offering a concentration in ancient classical literature. Students will be able to immerse themselves in the epics of Homer, Virgil and Dante. They will be charmed by Ovid and challenged by Aeschylus. They will sit on the shoulders of Tacitus and Suetonius in observing Imperial Rome at its apex.

For Professor George Kalogeris BS’78, the Classics program’s guiding force, it is the first time in a 20-year teaching and writing career that he can work full time with two things he loves most: ancient writers and the students who want to study them.

“When young people engage with these texts it helps them to develop an inner life, whether they know it or not,” says Kalogeris.

Raised in Winthrop with the smell of the oceans and the sounds of rebetika—a style of Greek folk music popular among 1930s day laborers—Kalogeris’ interest in words and language came from his mother, who understood and conversed in nearly every regional dialect of modern Greek. As an undergraduate, Kalogeris took the Blue Line for four years to Suffolk University where he studied literature and psychology. His undergraduate thesis was on Jim Morrison’s allusions to Sophocles in The Doors’ tune, “The End.”

After a brief stint as a psychologist, Kalogeris entered the University Professors Program at Boston University where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in Comparative Literature. He recently released a collection of his translation of Albert Camus’ diary notebooks, Carnets (Pressed Wafer Publishing, 2006) and had his translation of a C.P. Cavafy poem read before a commencement audience at Oxford University.

Kalogeris believes the most valuable lesson he has learned as a Suffolk professor is the importance of students. “It’s about people seeing things for the first time,” he says. He fosters this awareness in students, from giving out his home phone number and taking calls night and day to spending countless hours hosting informal poetry discussions. “I kind of hate English and classical literature,” said a student at a discussion on Sappho, “but I like Kalogeris and I could never miss this seminar.”