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First Lecturer Named

Kali Tudisco ’15,  Staff Writer


Ganser a Star, On and Off the Court

On Feb. 25, senior Katie Ganser will have an opportunity to speak to the entire Merrimack community as she delivers the fourth annual First Lecture

. Ganser, who will be the first active student-athlete to give the First Lecture, has an exceptional resume at Merrimack. A four-year player and two-year captain on the women’s basketball team and president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council, Ganser also boasts an impressive academic record.

Majoring in biology/pre-med with a minor in psychology, she has spent four years on the Dean’s List and the last three semesters on the President’s List, and she now assists in research with professor Janine Leblanc-Straceski. In addition to all of her other commitments, Ganser is a Student Ambassador, a member of the ODK honor society, and is deeply involved with Alternative Spring Break and the Campus Ministry.

After graduation she plans to work for a year before attending medical school. “I am really excited to have the opportunity to give back to the Merrimack community all that it has done for me,” says Ganser.

“I hope to give a lecture that will be interesting and inspiring to everyone who hears it, to get involved in their own ways and follow their own dreams.”

The First Lecture is designed to give a student a chance to deliver a formal message and have people listen, an opportunity usually only given to professors and scholars.

The idea developed from a more common tradition known as the Last Lecture, in which a faculty member is selected to deliver a lecture as if it is the last that he or she will ever give.

The Last Lecture was brought to Merrimack in 1999, but it was not until 2010 that the First Lecture was conceived. When the Mission Effectiveness Committee was searching for ways to help the college bring to life its new mission statement (“To enlighten minds, engage hearts, and empower lives”), a group of four students suggested the idea of a student-given lecture, as students were given many opportunities to be spectators at events, but were rarely the active participants.

Therefore, the First Lecture, a tradition entirely unique to Merrimack, was created. This year, Ganser was selected by SGA from among 10 willing nominees, each with their own enthusiasm for the lecture and their own message to communicate.

The committee interviews each nominee to see what kind of experiences and passions he or she could bring to a potential lecture. Father Ray Dlugos, who was involved in the creation of the First Lecture and is now involved in the interview process, stated that this year’s decision was the hardest so far, but that Ganser stood out not only because of her many accomplishments, but because of the great variety of her achievements and the passion with which she pursues her goals.

“Katie, as a Merrimack student, really has embraced the values that we claim are so important to us. She’s a leader, she’s a terrific teammate and friend, and she is very committed to service to others,” says Fr. Dlugos. The First Lecture will take place on Monday, Feb. 25 in Cascia Hall.

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