Today is a VERY special day!! And what day is that?
It’s the birthday of one of my favorite people who has become one of my greatest mentors, Jerry Zurek!
I met Jerry rather briefly when I was serving as a missioner with Cabrini Mission Corps in NY back in 2009, but it wasn’t until my mission in the Philippines, that he learned Sr. Terezinha Lumbieri, MSC and I would be partners in crime working together in the communities of Baguio City. Jerry met Sr. Terezinha way back when, when he visited Brazil, and Sr. T served as their host! Since then, the two have become Facebook buds, and I have gracefully hopped along for the ride. Yay!
While I was away on mission in the Philippines with Sr. T, Jerry was a great supporter of our work in the communities and before we knew it, my next assignment was going to be at Cabrini College in Radnor, PA! I think we were both super excited to learn about that!
This past year, I had the great opportunity to work alongside Jerry with facilitating the CRS Ambassadors, attending his classes, working with his students, and learning more about the world of international development. Needless to say, it was such an inspiration to be able to work with Jerry, and also very affirming to be supported by his efforts. He is certainly the communications guru.
Not only me, but witnessing firsthand how he cares about his students – preparing them with the necessary skills and tools, emailing them job opportunities which they qualify for, dealing with their sass…it’s pretty remarkable. He cares about his students. And wants them to succeed! Sometimes I find that hard to see nowadays with other educators.
In conversations that Sr. T and I would have with one another, we always talked about how it takes a special person to be able to work with youth and young adults. Not everyone has the gift to do so – effectively at least…and I would say Jerry certainly has that gift, and as a result, he is well-respected very much so on the Cabrini campus. From commnication majors and non-comm majors alike! That says something.
…That’s probably why he was named Professor of the Year of Pennsylvania in 2005, and if others were to vote again, pretty sure he would maintain that title through the years.
I remember having conversations with some of the graduating seniors this year before we left, and talked with them about the awesomeness of Jerry. Of course, they all shared their input. These comm kids, they always have much to say! Some saying how he is hands-down one of their favorite professors, others saying how if it weren’t for him, they would not have had so and so experience, an internship, or exposure to an organization, and others even revealed that though they give him attitude and sass, deep down, they are so grateful for his support and encouragement. I thought that was pretty cool that these college students were able to put down their sass for a little bit and share their appreciation for JZ (as they call him) with me. They’re the best! Sorry guys, I blew your cover. 🙂
JZ attends weekly CRS Ambassador meetings at 9pm, brings them tons of snacks (always), supports his students in class, as well as with their “life after college” plans, listens to their complaining, tells them to stop complaining, is always documenting the events of his students (even to their dismay), dismisses negative energy, is a voice of reason (within reason), through technology, does all he can to support past alumni and me (non-cabrini college alumni), shares relevant information via social media, laughs with his students, is generous with his time, calls students out when something needs to be corrected (or joked about!), is funny, witty, inspiring, and i have personally witnessed him drive a huge van of students through a torrential thunderstorm (and manage to get us all home safely!).
Needless to say, today is a very special day and I am so grateful for Jerry Zurek! Thank YOU for supporting me with my past, present, and future endeavors. You’ll be around for it all – I hope you’re ready!