40 under 40 - Peter Gillen '04, G'07
How has having a Springfield College degree impacted you professionally?
I gained instant credibility with a Springfield degree. It's a big reason that I returned to SC for my graduate work. A degree from Springfield College demonstrates not only competency in the field, but also represents someone who is committed to serving their greater community. I've been the beneficiary of this first hand and work to continue that legacy.
Who influenced you when you were a student at Springfield College and explain the role they played in your life.
Dr. Dennis Gouws was my advisor and English professor. He helped develop my understanding and appreciation for the content I'd be teaching and illustrated how to connect to students through a medium. Dr. Carlson was another professor whose classes I loved. He was tough, fair, and had a subtle sense of humor that I always enjoyed.
Dr. Dan Zuckergood and Dr. Susan McCarthy-Miller taught me how to teach, helped me make professional connections, and helped me realize immediately that I made the right career choice. I wanted to be for others what they were for me.
Ken Klatka, Britt Brewer, and Mike Gauvin were the head coaches of the track and cross country teams while I was competing. These coaches knew how to connect to us, push us, and create a sense of working towards a collective goal. I learned, not just how to coach, but how to facilitate a tight-unit from them. My most fond memories at SC are because of the programs they created.
Finally, Rev. Dr. Leo J. Hoar was a teacher, guide, and friend. In my toughest moments, Leo got me through. I'm simply one of many that was bettered by his legacy. I'm forever grateful for his presence at SC.
If you could share one piece of advice with today's current Springfield College student, what would it be?
Take full advantage of your time! College years are short. Balance the fun and the studies—but be sure to spend dedicated time with both. Develop and retain good friendships. Experience the opportunities that are available—traveling, community service, or simply participating in on-campus activities. Bet on yourself to be successful and take advantage of new opportunities. You never know what doors will open.
Who you want to thank personally for the role they have played in your success.
I feel, quite simply, to be representative of a great many people from Springfield who could have been recognized. The friends I made at Springfield College are tremendous people who could easily have been here in my stead. Ethan Brown, Shannon (Dennie) Conwall, Art Fredericks, Kevin Harrington, Pawel Jaroszewicz, Brian Pearsall, and Eric Peloquin have been unending in their support, friendship, and kindness. I look up to each of them.
The whole team in West Side is incredible. The kids and colleagues really make it a special community. I'm honored to work for you. Coach Mike Atkins, especially. It was a privilege to coach with you and start our careers together and I'm humbled to be your friend.
Tom Duggan, Troy Jones, Rob Jordan, Eric Kelly, Bob Mateicka, and Phil Reutlinger were the upper classmen on the men's cross country team when my younger brother passed away. I was a freshman and they took care of me. I'm not an SC graduate without that team. The best, and most personal, college paper I ever wrote was about the moment Troy Jones told me I was going to be ok.
My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have cared for me, made me laugh, and been the support structure that every kid could hope for. My in-laws are the coolest around and I'm grateful for and love them!
My mom and dad are my heroes. They've loved me, supported me, sacrificed for me, encouraged me, fought for me, and have given their lives to make sure mine was a good one. They're incredible and I love them dearly.
My wife Lynn is a rock star. She holds my heart. She's my best bud, my biggest supporter, and impresses me daily. We're raising two daughters, Emily and Molly (and a third daughter on the way!), who fill me with pride and love each day. My family is simply wonderful and, together, each day has joy. I'm stunned at how blessed and lucky I am.
My brother, Mark, is always looking out for me and I'm still his biggest fan.