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Remembering Tom Callahan: Our Advisor, Our Professor, Our Friend

Compiled by ROSE BRENNAN & TAYLOR BRETHAUER,

Managing Editor & Editor-in-Chief

“I remember during one of our longer chats, I said to Tom that I considered him an inspiration to me as a young journalist. Tom, always the self-deprecator, scoffed at the idea. After all, he was just a non-tenured journalism professor at some small liberal arts college. He wasn’t rich or powerful. He was in poor health. But therein, for me, lied the inspiration of it all. Tom gave his life to the cause of journalism – first as a writer and then as a mentor to young reporters. I will always admire his zeal and charisma, and will never forget his biting humor. The Quadrangle – and the practice of journalism as a whole – has lost one of its fiercest and most passionate defenders. And I have lost a friend. Rest in peace, Tom.”

Stephen Zubrycky ’19, Managing Editor

 

“Of all of the memorable lines that Thomas Callahan spoke to me, I hold one very close to my heart.  ‘This college is lucky to have you.’  He said this to me in every passing moment, at every meeting, even in an email in which I explained I would not be able to attend his class for the day. This phrase meant the world to me for two reasons. Firstly, to be thought of so highly by someone as intelligent, accomplished and genuine as Callahan was a badge of honor.  The second and more poignant reason is that Thomas Callahan took every chance he had to express how highly he thought of people. The phrase ‘This college is lucky to have you’ was not uniquely uttered to me. I heard him say it to students around me, all of whom possessed talent and hard-working qualities. Such powerful encouragement delivered by a man that embodied the phrase ‘true grit’ is and was a gift. I hope that he realized how lucky we were to have him.”

Haley Burnside ’19, Senior Writer

 

“As one of the few guys in my journalism classes, Tom always went out of his way to connect with me on a personal level. He knew I was an athlete, and we shared a love for the game of baseball. He saw my passion for sports, writing and helped me find the confidence in myself to pursue a career in sports media. Tom demanded excellence from his journalists, and foresaw the world’s push to quiet the voices of those who chose to speak out. Tom wasn’t just a journalist, he was a narrator, and an illuminator; and I can only hope to find some of his passion in myself.”

Charles Lippolis ’18, former Assistant Sports Editor

 

“In the two years I knew Tom Callahan, I never knew him to be a ‘believer.’  And when someone doesn’t believe in much, it means so much more when they do believe in something.  And this man who believed in next to nothing wholeheartedly believed in me and my ability to change the world with nothing but my words.  No one could give me a pep talk the way Tom Callahan could, and while they were endearingly repetitive while he was alive, they are now one of the things I will miss the most about him.  Even though he is no longer with us, I very much plan on keeping his memory alive in my work.”

Rose Brennan ’20, Arts & Entertainment and Managing Editor

 

 

“Tom was one of those people that you remember long after you graduate. Although he believed journalism has received its death sentence, he believed in his students even more to help bring it back. He was so proud of every individual and really pushed them to be the best journalist possible. His passion for writing and his hopefulness in his students will forever resonate with me as I pursue a career in journalism in hopes to make him and other writers proud. He was a beacon of light for the journalistic community, teaching us to seek out the truth and tell the stories of the people who didn’t have a voice. His spirit will forever flow through my writing just as easily as ink flows on paper.”

Bennett Hall ’19, communication major and Staff Writer

 

“‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live.’ This iconic Joan Didion quote is something Tom Callahan spent his whole life doing, and it’s something he spent his whole teaching career reminding us to do. In life, if you are lucky, you will have teachers that teach you more about life outside the classroom than in it. This is who Tom was for me and for many of us. I really needed the encouragement he gave me when I was just starting out at The Quadrangle, but he never stopped reminding me of how much he believed in me, even when my self confidence grew. Although he will never get the chance to physically be here to see me graduate or have my first job, I know that he will still be proud every time I see success. Rest in peace, Tom, you will be deeply missed and never forgotten.”

Lauren Schuster ’20, Assistant Features Editor

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Tom at the 2018 Communication Department end-of-year party with editor-in-chief Taylor Brethauer and Tara Marin ‘18. TARA MARIN / COURTESY

“Outspoken, insightful, authentic, unmatched. This is how I will remember Thomas Callahan, and because of him, I am a better writer and a better person. His course lectures, and many conversations I’ve had with him, often left me overwhelmed by the ugly, barbaric world we live in. Yet at the same time, Tom encouraged students not to retreat from this ugliness, but to run headlong into it, to resist it and to shed light wherever we could, with our words and our actions. Two of his very best phrases were ‘writers, write’ and ‘don’t f*ck this up.’ May we all continue doing just that.”

Tara Marin ’18, former Social Media Editor

 

“Tom Callahan is one of those professors you remember for the rest of your life, because he was so much more than just a professor. Looking back on his lectures, I realize that Tom didn’t really teach me how to write—he believed that a writer’s voice was something that couldn’t be taught.  Instead, he taught me that journalism is dying. But most importantly, in teaching me everything that was wrong with journalism today, he taught me exactly why I should become a journalist anyway. Professor Callahan, you raised a generation of writers that will turn the whole system on its head. Who will go where the silence is and always tell the truth. And for that, you belong right beside all of your heroes—because you were the kind of writer who changed the world.”

Olivia Paladino ’19, communication major and Editor-in-Chief of Lotus Magazine 

 

“Although I shared a lot in common with Tom Callahan, where we truly bonded was through our mutual love and passion for the game of baseball.  Like a true journalist, TC was able to discuss baseball with complete objectivity out of sheer admiration.  This was something I’m rarely able to do, given my extreme-fandom for the Red Sox.  Tom worked at Shea Stadium as a kid, and went to the old Yankee Stadium a bunch, too.  His fondness towards the game was unmatched, and learning baseball history through his lens was special for me.  I couldn’t ever have a conversation with Tom without him asking me about the Sox…I would have loved to watch a Yankee/Sox game with him.  Rest in peace, Tom, and though I’ll remember much more than your love for baseball, I truly can never forget our chats about a game we loved together.”

Jack Melanson ’19, News Editor

 

“Professor Callahan was undoubtedly a realist, and that is what I admired most about him. It may have looked strange from the outside looking in: a journalism professor continually warning students about the waning days of the free press. But I don’t believe the message was ever intended to be cruel or harsh, but to force us to really appreciate the opportunity to learn and write and work – and to protect those things at all costs.  He helped make me forever grateful to be able to tell stories for a living. I hope I do the same for someone else one day. And I often think about one of his singular pieces of advice: Don’t f*ck it up. I hope we never do.”

Ally Hutzler ’18, former Editor-in-Chief

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Tom with Lindsey Burns ‘17 and Kyleigh Panetta ‘16 after a communication class. LINDSEY BURNS / COURTESY

“My freshman year at MC, I took Ethics in Mass Communication with Professor Callahan. He utilized the course to teach us the importance of social justice, specifically in media, but also just in general in our everyday lives. At age 19, having just entered college a few months before, I was nowhere near mature enough to understand the importance of his lectures. But soon enough, with the eve of the 2016 presidential election upon us, his words and lectures and lengthy emails suddenly clicked with me. And just like that, it was like everything that was wrong with the world was suddenly magnified, and the class I took my freshman year of college became all the more important. Thank you, Professor Callahan, for being unafraid to speak the truth, persistent in your teachings to a bunch of college freshmen, and fearless in the fight for social justice.”

Lindsey Burns ’17, former Arts & Entertainment Editor

 

“I’m blessed to be a part of The Quadrangle. Every person that I work with has the work ethic of a true journalist, and that is because they are in fact true journalists. The person I have to thank for all of this is Tom for not only inspiring me to become part of this community but for being the backbone of it.   Tom was a man who was devoted to the things that he was passionate about. He was not just another professor at Manhattan College, he was a man of compassion and fearlessness. A man who ignited the spark within us to seek out the truth and bring it to the light for others to see. I will always remember his words of praise and encouragement, instilling the courage that every member of The Quadrangle has that keeps us doing what we love: journalism. Thank you Tom for your words of wisdom and for showing me the importance of journalism, you will not be forgotten.”

Alyssa Velazquez ’20, Production Manager

 

“It’s rare you come across someone who is as altruistic as Callahan. Everything he gave was selfless in nature, whether it be giving of his knowledge or his stories. The experiences that he shared with us always guaranteed a good laugh and an even better lesson. But I think what I will miss the most is his passion for his craft. He was constantly in search of the truth, and encouraged us to do the same. He demanded fearless, exceptional journalism. And while it was a mental challenge for me personally to meet that standard, he was always so proud of the outcome. Thank you, Callahan, for being a warrior on journalism’s behalf. Your tenacity and your beret will be missed.”

Megan Dreher ’20, Features Editor

 

“Professor Callahan was a unique man who was, without a doubt, one of a kind. I enjoyed talking sports with him, whether it had to do with The Quad or national sports. He was very knowledgeable about baseball and we shared a plethora of baseball stories and insights. Not only did we share a love for sports, but we also shared the fact that we went to the same grade school, high school and college.  I had one final meeting with Professor Callahan at the end of the spring semester where he thanked me for my contributions to The Quad. He had a lot of faith in me as a writer and told me to keep writing. That was the last time I had an extended conversation with Professor Callahan, and it’s a moment I won’t soon forget. He will be missed!”

John Jackson ’19, Sports Editor

 

“As an incoming freshman with the pressures of The Quadrangle scholarship, I honestly cannot remember my first impression of Professor Callahan, no matter how hard I try. I had to take one credit classes specifically for The Quadrangle and those were all led by Callahan. He never had a formal lesson plan for us; he let us come in, sit down and talk. He would let us express our frustration when we were struggling and let us share our successes; week to week, no matter what we came in with, he was there to support and guide us through it. He consistently gave me the vote of confidence I needed to keep taking stories that challenged me, share my ideas and grow. He sincerely believed in me in a way that few people have believed in me before and that meant and will always mean the world to me.”

Gabriella DePinho ’21, Assistant News Editor

 

“I do not believe that all the people who were lucky enough to meet Tom Callahan fully understood him or his depth. He treated his students more like colleagues than just college kids. He was always honest, revealing that as journalists, we won’t make much money, but we will maintain one of the most important jobs in the world: to tell the truth. A year ago, he sent me an email in which he wrote, ‘The truth is out there; we just point it out to people. They do the rest. That was how I lived my life as a journalist and that is how I will live what time left God gives me as a teacher.’ His legacy will inspire me to be the best journalist I can be, and to speak for those who do not have a voice.”

Abby Crowell ’20, Distribution Manager

 

“You never really know the significance a professor can have on someone, especially when that professor is truly passionate about what they do. Tom Callahan was not only a professor to me, but a mentor as well. When I took my first class with him, I wasn’t as passionate about journalism as I am today. However, Tom showed me that there was so much more to news than the popular news channels we watch in the morning. I had the opportunity to have Tom for four classes, and all four of them he taught me to not be scared to go to where the news is. After we had our last class together he called me a fighter for wanting to learn more about political science, and encouraged me to pursue my dream of being a political journalist. I’m very thankful to have had Callahan as a professor during my early years at Manhattan College. I plan to continue his legacy in my writing.”

Gillian Puma ’20, communication major and Staff Writer

 

“Mr. Callahan was like a character that had just come out from one of his stories. He was a kind man with a kind soul and a hunger for justice. You’ll keep me eternally waiting to know what your book was about… I guess as a part of the suspense you loved. You will be missed.”

Daniel Molina ’18, former Web Editor

 

“When I decided to write a blurb in memory of Professor Callahan, the words of my favorite author, Ernest Hemingway, immediately came to mind: ‘All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’  In the three years I spent working with Professor Callahan, he demonstrated to myself and all of his students that dedication is indeed a worthwhile virtue in a day and age when the world needs dedication so dearly. Professor Callahan, his remarkable hats, dark humor, brutal honesty and ability to always make me laugh and smile from ear-to-ear will never, ever be forgotten.”

RikkiLynn Shields ‘’19, Social Media Editor

 

While I only knew Professor Callahan for one short year, his passion and desire for justice will always stick with me. I have never met a person who was more willing to speak up about issues that they felt should be righted, or to fight for what they believe in than he was. I will miss Professor Callahan’s conversations in the Quadrangle meetings and listening to what he had to say. He was truly able to foster a group of journalists who want to speak the truth, and for that, Manhattan College should be forever thankful. Rest in peace, Professor Callahan. “

Shannon Gleba ’21, Copy Editor

 

“Professor and beloved advisor Tom Callahan was one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. In the short time I knew him, he left a tremendous impact on myself, The Quadrangle and every journalism student. He had the best stories, experiences and support we could have ever asked for. There aren’t enough words to describe how much we’ll miss him, and I know we’ll make him proud. Let’s do journalism.”

Alexa Schmidt ’21, Assistant Arts & Entertainment Editor

 

“There aren’t too many people left in this world that are passionate about what they do. Tom Callahan gave his heart and soul into teaching, and is the very reason why I am doing journalism.  And I’ll always thank him for that.”

Deirdre Ledley ’20, communication major and Staff Writer

 

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Tom at the 2016 Communication Department end-of-year party giving Anthony Capote ‘16 the journalism medal. ANTHONY CAPOTE / COURTESY

 

About The Quadrangle (846 Articles)
The Quadrangle, founded in 1924, is the student-run newspaper of Manhattan College.
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