Across the Generations

May 4, 2016


Julia Murphy '16 & Bill Sullivan '52

Just weeks away from graduation, one senior recently wrote an open letter to the Stonehill community reflecting on her four years here which in turn, prompted an alum from the College’s very first graduating class to write to her. Below are each of their letters.

Julia Murphy '16
Originally featured in The Odyssey

The other night I had to walk to CVS. I haven’t had to make the walk since I was a freshman three years ago, but I didn’t mind because it was a nice night. The sun was just starting to set and there was one of those sunsets in the sky that you never want to end. Nights like this have a way of making you feel nostalgic. Naturally, as I walked on the quiet campus I got to thinking about how my fourth year at Stonehill is soon coming to an end and they have gone by in the blink of an eye. As sad as I am to think of it coming to an end I have so much to thank Stonehill for.

The first class to gather at Stonehill in 1948 found an institution quite different from the one you leave this year...But much of what you say about the life-changing experience of your years at Stonehill, and what you learned from other students, was true for us as well.
 Bill Sullivan '52 letter to Julia Murphy '16

Thank you for accepting me and letting me become part of your community; a community where I have learned so much and have been challenged to grow in ways that I never thought would be possible for me. Thank you for being a community that has such love and support for one another. I could always count on seeing a smiling face every day and that’s something that I’ll miss. I will always be a Skyhawk at heart.

Thank you for bringing me new perspectives on life with H.O.P.E service immersion, Into the Streets, and other programs like study abroad. Although I didn't have the opportunity go abroad, I was able to see how it changed the lives of many of my friends and classmates. With these opportunities, I was able to experience life outside the Stonehill bubble. With these experiences, I met people who have altered my perspective on life for the better.

Thank you for giving me the skills that will help me become successful later in life. With the education I have gotten at Stonehill, I feel life I am ready to conquer the world. With the many outlets that we were given through career services, I feel ready to take on the professional world. It might seem scary, but with all the skills I have been given, thanks to Stonehill, I am more than ready for my future.

Thank you for letting me live on one of the most beautiful campuses I have encountered. From Donahue Hill to the iconic clock, these are the views I will miss so much. Even covered in snow, Stonehill still managed to be beautiful with glowing Christmas lights on the trees. I will always remember how beautiful the quad looked during sunset on a spring night.

Most importantly, I want to thank Stonehill for bringing amazing people into my life. I have met so many people that have changed me. Everyone I have encountered at Stonehill has made a permanent mark on my life. I will always remember the late nights we spent together and the times we had. Through both good and bad, the people I have met have been there for me and I don’t think my years here would have been the same without them. Thank you a thousand times for being the amazing people that you are.

When I moved in freshman year, I remember I sat in Panera with my sister and I cried because I couldn’t bear the thought of having to leave home. Now, I cry thinking about leaving Stonehill because Stonehill is home and it has been for the past four years of my life. Even though I won’t be here next year, Stonehill, you have a place in my heart forever.

Bill Sullivan's response to Julia's letter:

Dear Julia,

The first class to gather at Stonehill in 1948 found an institution quite different from the one you leave this year. It was small, all-male, and had half a dozen buildings. But much of what you say about the life-changing experience of your years at Stonehill, and what you learned from other students, was true for us as well. Half of our class were returning veterans attending under the GI Bill and those of us just out of high school gained from their experience. The tradition of a quality faculty was established from the start, and the 68 years of sensible and positive leadership by the Holy Cross Fathers began.

Your letter is the first I have seen thanking a college for its contribution to one's life. It says as much about you as it does about Stonehill. I have no doubt about your future, in each of the many ways success is measured.

Some of us, near the end of long life, realize that we have not done enough to say "Thank You" for those whose help we have taken for granted. We come to a late recognition that those small formalities help build the support networks you describe.

I wish you happiness in your career and in your life.  Please continue to act on those sunset-watching impulses. They reach farther than you know.

 And thank you for the letter.

 Sincerely,

 Bill Sullivan '52

Sullivan was the Summit's first editor and received an MBA from Harvard in 1964 and later spent a year at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. He served a term as a Stonehill trustee. His career was with the federal government and the University of Maine System.