I wish you all the warmest of welcomes back to campus. Leading up to my senior year, I received some very unfortunate news: our former advisor, Tom Callahan, passed away. I was heartbroken to say the very least. Tom was not only my professor, my mentor and my friend, but he was also the reason I came to Manhattan College during the fall of 2015.
I first met Tom when I sat in on his reporting and news writing class during Accepted Students Day. He was commending another student on her presentation about finding sources for a story about vaccinations. This was very true to who Tom was as a professor: he challenged students to think about social justice through the lens of journalism and always gave encouraging words. But most importantly, he meant those words.
When I formally met him, it was during my Quadrangle scholarship interview. He loved the fact that I was reading “1984” and that my favorite book was “The Great Gatsby.” He said something along the lines of the younger generation not knowing what it was like to sit down and read a good book. This was also true to who Tom was as a mentor: he was cynical, but rightfully so. He saw the world through the eyes of someone who strived the right all of the wrongs, or at least inspire students to do the same.
Had I not been given the scholarship, I would not have been here. When I received the email I had received it, I was excited, maybe a bit too much, to continue to learn and practice my craft. Except I also knew, coming into the journalism concentration, that I would be in wonderful hands with Tom. This was the biggest truth to who Tom was as my friend: he was always there to support my work from day one.
When I think about the fact that he will not be here to see my graduate or to see where I’ll go post-graduation, it feels like there’s a piece of my heart missing. This was the man who looked me in the eyes when I won the editor-in-chief election, shook my hand, and said “you are the real deal.” I don’t often think of myself in that way, but Tom did. He never failed to remind me that.
Tom would often say that he was alone in the world. But he had us, his students, who will undoubtedly carry his lessons into the world like a banner. Every one of us will continue on his legacy. He was loved and I hope he knows that, wherever he is. My peers share their equally heartwarming memories in this issue’s center spread. I hope you give them a read.
There will never be another Tom Callahan. I’ll miss him terribly and I don’t think that hurt will ever go away. Rest in peace Tom and thank you for everything.