Many students and alumni know my 90-year-old father, Elio. We stay at his house (my house!) on the way to Maine to do fieldwork. Picture a tiny kitchen and a dozen robust young people with backpacks. He always tells them, “You’re tall!” Elio is a pip!
My mother suffered from ill health her entire life. She didn’t mope around because of it. Agnes was not, shall we say, a shy woman. She never held back. She was hell on wheels. Agnes was 20 when I was born, 38 when I left for college, and 52 when she died.
My parents grew up poor. Fortified by their love and the GI Bill, they married young and forged ahead. They taught my brothers and me how to cook, clean, sew, iron, change a diaper, change a tire, shovel the driveway, mow the lawn, build things — build a life, really. They taught us to love books. To work hard, respect our teachers, and value education. To care about people with less than we had. They taught us to take a stand. Ask my students: “Doc tells us the same thing! Every day!”
Going away to college was an impossible dream for my parents. Yet here I am. I challenge my students to take charge of their own lives, to make a difference in their own hearts and souls, and then in the lives of others. On the last day of every class, I hear echoes of my parents’ voices when I ask, “If not you, then who?”
Environmental studies Prof. John Commito is the department’s founding chair. He has won many Student Senate Faculty Appreciation and Order of Omega Outstanding Professor awards and was the Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year in Maryland and Pennsylvania. A seafloor ecologist, he has experience in the U.S., Italy, New Zealand, and Norway. His research students have been Goldwater and NOAA-Hollings Scholars as well as National Science Foundation and NOAA-Knauss Marine Policy Fellows. Commito has degrees from Cornell and Duke and joined the Gettysburg faculty in 1993. He is pictured below with his parents Agnes and Elio Commito.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Posted: Tue, 30 Apr 2013
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