Time and making it count…

Be on the lookout for Joey Mullaney ’13

by Allie Goodrich ’13

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Joey Mullaney ’13

Joey Mullaney ‘13 has been busy.

He’s got a book on the way—a memoir, hopefully out next spring. He’s got a blog up and running, he’s kickstarted his career as the motivational speaker he aspires to be, and on Tuesday, April 17, he returned to Lawrence Academy with his twin brother Sean Mullaney ‘13 for the “Live Action Leader” series to share and reflect on his story with current LA students.

Now that he was back on campus were there any favorite memories that came to mind?

“The Dunk, dude,” Sean suggested.

“What?”

“The Dunk.”

“That’s, like, an easy answer.” Joey thought for a minute. “Really, just being around the Quad and stuff at lunchtime.

“I miss that.”

***

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“The Dunk.”

But let’s get back to “The Dunk.” Because there were many moments precipitating that instant so poignantly captured in the giant photo now hanging in the student lounge, as well as in a video which has amassed over 90,000 views on YouTube.

It was something special, but it almost didn’t happen.

The initial idea began as a lay-up. “Kev [Wiercinski, the [varsity boys’ basketball head coach] asked me to do that. I said no, I didn’t want to do it,” Joey reflected. “I probably should’ve said yes.”

“I was in history class I think, and then for the next twenty minutes, I was thinking about it in class. So I texted Kev just saying, ‘I’m in,’ and then Kev was so pumped he came to MacNeil, and it was me, Sean, some of the basketball guys.

“Kev came in and was like, ‘Hey, I’m really excited you’re on board, do you want to shoot a lay-up?’ And I go, ‘No, I’m not doing that.’ He was like, ‘So what are you going to do?’, and I was like, ‘Daquan [Sampson ‘13, who is 6’8”], he can put me on his shoulders, and I can dunk the ball, and that’s the only case.’ So he was like, ‘Alright, I’ll figure it out.’”

This is just one prime example of the Joey Mullaney mentality: Why go for the lay-up when you could go for the dunk?

But such a mindset, like any muscle, is something that has taken work and persistence to develop: “I went through a lot of hard times to get there and to get where I’m at now.”

He points to a critical event during his junior year, which gave him the confidence to make the decision to dunk down the line.

***

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Joey and Sean Mullaney ’13

“I was an extremely shy kid,” admitted Joey over lunch in LA’s Dining Hall, shortly before speaking to the students in MacNeil Lounge. “I like getting to know people, but I was afraid really to be myself.

“Back when I was a freshman and sophomore I walked everywhere, [but] my disease got to the point where it got too tough and very noticeable my junior year. And that was really hard for me, because kids saw me as Joey, and I didn’t want them to really see me as a kid who can’t walk, kid who’s disabled, kid who’s going to die one day. I didn’t want them to pity me, so I didn’t want them to know what was wrong.”

“I didn’t tell people I had FA, but everyone knew something was wrong, so junior year, his [Sean’s] assembly, remember that? That was like the turning point in my life.”

Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder.  About one in 50,000 people in the United States have the disease, which begins its progression in the toes and gradually works its way up, diminishing the muscles in the body.

Together, Sean, Mrs. Margraf, and Mr. Culley approached Joey to suggest a special assembly to address what was going on. At first, Joey was resistant to the idea, but later they “kept talking about it and decided it was the best move.”

“It was definitely tough,” added Sean, who graduated from Bowdoin last spring and is currently applying to law school. “But the community—it was awesome the way they responded to it and helped out, and I think that was a nice microcosm of what LA is, and how special the community is here and how everyone really tries to help each other.”

Although he chose not to be in attendance himself that day, Joey said, “Those ten, fifteen minutes really changed who I am.”

“It made me become much more confident in myself, and much more willing—not able, but willing—to do as much as I can.”

***

Mullaney at Graduation 2013.

Mullaney at Graduation 2013

Fast forward to sailing on a boat in the Caribbean during Winterim, becoming a peer counselor, being voted class speaker for graduation, and, of course, the dunk. Then the next stop: Quinnipiac University, where, despite new transitions and challenges, he quickly enmeshed himself in social and academic life. He served as an orientation leader for new students, joined the Student Government Association (SGA) as a sophomore, landed himself on the SGA executive board as the vice president of public relations, and was elected student body president his senior year.

In a blog post from January titled “Adjusting to Change,” Joey wrote:

“I have learned to embrace the unknown. More specifically, I embrace the fear of the unknown. I have found that as fearful as I might be of the challenges to come, I have to face them head-on. I also feel excited, nervous, eager, happy, afraid– the list goes on. So while my emotions are firing and my brain is wiring, I start to think of a proper response to stress. How I should handle everything is a mystery until I get there. Yet I know I will be required to make some adjustments. And that mystery – and the new challenges I will face – are what make me feel most alive.”

Yes, Joey Mullaney has been busy. Between the book on the horizon and enrolling in graduate school in Boston, Joey is just getting started. And as for being a leader?

“I don’t think I’m a leader. In my mind, I still have a long way to go.” Then he paused. “So be on the lookout.”

Shep’s Place # 48: Say Cheese!

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Headmaster Arthur Ferguson dedicates the new Sheedy Hall, 1962…

 

For my second Project Only a Retiree Could Love (the first being cleaning out and digitizing alumni records and transcripts, last year), I got the OK to attack Hellie Swartwood’s closet in the Alumni Development House. I figured that Hellie, who works with LA’s parents, would like to have the space back, and I was dying to get my hands on the contents: about 40 huge three-ring binders of Kodachrome slides and prints of school life from the 1970s to the 1990s. Fortunately for us, Karen Serach, a previous occupant of Hellie’s office, had been a meticulous collector and organizer of just about every photograph taken at LA, by every photographer the school had employed at the time.

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LA’s Bicentennial

The albums were organized by year or by topic (major events, teams, graduation, etc.); some were general in focus, some more specific. The problem was, what to do with them once I’d emptied Hellie’s closet? Conversations with folks in the development and communications offices generated the idea of an online archive, kind of a complement to the Whipple Archive in the Ansin Building on campus. A bonus came with a search of the third floor in Alumni Development House, which produced another gold mine: hundreds of black and white photographs dating back as far as the late 1950s! Some had been taken for the yearbook, while others were just stored up there because no one knew what to do with them.

The school kindly set me up with a slide viewing table and a digitizing device, and I went to work about a year ago in a spare office on the first floor. First, the thousands of pictures had to  be culled, and then sorted by year, subject, team, event, or whatever seemed appropriate. I knew that photographers took a number of pictures of a subject  — say, a senior speaker at graduation —  to get just the right shot, but I had  no idea just how many! I counted something like 73 slides of one late-1970s thirds lacrosse team; one made the cut. The prints were easier to deal with, as the photographer had presumably printed only the best shots.

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Building the Student Center 1980

When the selection and sorting operation was done, I took the pictures over to the communications office to digitize the slides and scan the prints, and put everything into folders on the computer. From there they were uploaded to the new Online Archive on LA’s Smugmug page.

The result of this work is a wonderful visual record of the last 50 or 60 years of LA’s history. You’ll see pictures of major events, like the Academy’s 175th and 200th birthdays, the dedication of Sheedy Hall (and its demise some 40 year later), or the construction of the Madigan Student Center in 1980. There’s also a separate folder containing pictures of about 125 faculty and staff between about 1960 and the 1990s.

Not everyone is there, but we’re working on it.

When you visit the site, which will be up and running soon, be sure to read “Welcome to the Online Archive.” Besides providing easy navigation instructions, it also contains an appeal for contributions: photos, documents, videos, etc. There’s an email address where you can send contributions, which will be duly credited. Enjoy!

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…and Sheedy meets its end to make room for Ansin in 2003.

Lawrence Academy Announces Graduation Speakers

Pamela Nwaoko ‘06 will keynote LA’s 225th commencement exercises

As the school eagerly anticipates Lawrence Academy’s 225th commencement exercises, we are excited to announce that Pamela Nwaoko ’06 will be Lawrence Academy’s 2018 Commencement Speaker.

Pamela Nwaoko '06

Pamela Nwaoko ’06

A member of LA’s Class of 2006, Pamela was born and raised in New Jersey to Nigerian immigrant parents. While in Groton, Pamela engaged in a diverse set of co-curricular activities, including directing a One Act play, founding of one of LA’s first affinity groups, working with students and faculty to develop the Cultural Coffeehouse Series, and, on the weekends, spending much quality time in the library.

After graduating from Lawrence Academy, Pamela attended Georgetown University, the University of Oxford, and Harvard Law School. At Georgetown, she was named a Top Ten College Woman by Glamour Magazine, a Goldman Sachs “Global Leader,” and she addressed her graduating class as a Senior Convocation Speaker. She attended Oxford on a full-tuition scholarship as a Healy Scholar and was recognized during Harvard’s Commencement Ceremony with the Dean’s Award for Community Leadership.

Ms. Nwaoko now practices law in Washington, DC at the multinational law firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, representing and advising national and international financial institutions.

“I am excited for the opportunity to return to where my challenging, yet rewarding, educational journey began,” said Nwaoko. “I look forward to meeting the class of 2018!”

Head of School Dan Scheibe will lead the proceedings on June 1 on the Lawrence Academy Quad. Joining Pamela at the podium will be Class of 2018 president Gavin Slattery and peer-selected senior speakers AJ Mastrangelo and Jorie Van Nest.