What are your favorite Dickinson memories?
Mike: There are so many. Graduation weekend stands out the most. I was a first-generation college student graduating from this esteemed institution. I swelled with pride when I walked through the doors of Old West and my name was read. Having my family present meant the world. As I celebrated with friends, it dawned on me how much I had learned over the previous four years. And the greatest highlight was getting engaged the night before to Julie. We will have been married 24 years this July.
Julie: My favorite memories are of the family that I stayed with in Málaga while studying abroad. I am still in contact with them after 27+ years. I had an opportunity to visit with them a few years ago while [our daughter] Ainslie participated in an immersion program in Spain.
Tell us a little about your careers.
Julie: I’m a high school IB Spanish teacher at Trinity Episcopal School. I’ve been teaching there for 22 years. Several years ago, I also began teaching another IB class, Theory of Knowledge.
Mike: I spent much of my career as a management consultant in health care. Today, I am a senior director at Anthem, working for another Dickinson alum, Stacey Strouss Grosso ’88 (who, by the way, is the absolute best leader I’ve ever worked for!). I’m at my best when I’m helping others solve problems, focusing on what’s ahead.
How has Dickinson’s useful liberal-arts education helped you?
Julie: My liberal-arts education required me to take a variety of classes that I may not have sought out otherwise. This helped open my mind to other ways of thinking. It gives me a view into multiple perspectives and helps me keep an open mind and engage with others who have perspectives different from mine.
Mike: In so many ways, Dickinson provided me with the foundation to grow and continually learn. My experiences at Dickinson played a significant role in transforming me into a successful adult. When I reflect on my time there, I realize that Dickinson taught me how to develop relationships and gave me the ability to think critically.
Your daughter Ainslie is a member of Dickinson’s class of '22. What inspired her decision to attend?
Ainslie is very intellectually curious, and her Dickinson education is designed to continue to pique that curiosity about the world.
What can you share about her Dickinson experience?
She had no idea what to major in when she started her first year. Her first-year seminar opened her up to what is possible and led her to other areas of study she hadn’t considered before.
What is your favorite story about your daughter’s experience at Dickinson?
In high school, Ainslie was completely against Greek life. Both Julie and I were in a Greek organization, but Ainslie had preconceived notions about what it entailed and was not open to the idea at all. We encouraged her to rush, just to expand her social circle and meet others outside of her comfort zone. After the first night of rush, she never looked back. She met some amazing people whom I am sure will be lifelong friends. She was her pledge class president and remains an active member of the sorority today.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Julie: I discovered figure skating as an adult while Ainslie was skating. I competed for several years. I still enjoy recreational skating very much. I also have become a skating judge, and I travel to competitions up and down the East Coast.
Mike: I was a competitive adult runner after I graduated. I “retired” from competing about two years ago and still run socially and for fitness. I discovered yoga, and I am a dedicated Ashtanga practitioner. I cannot wait for our gym to reopen from the pandemic closings.
What inspired your gift to Dickinson?
Mike: Julie and I have been giving since we graduated. We both feel compelled to give back to a place that gave us both so much.
Why do you think it’s important to give back to Dickinson?
Mike: I received financial help to attend, and I want to pay it forward to others who will value and appreciate what this school has to offer. I also admire how Dickinson has continued to evolve and be an educational leader in academics, the environment and social issues. Helping to fund initiatives will keep the college relevant for years to come.
What is one piece of advice you would give to today’s students?
Julie: Get out of your social-media bubble and engage with people who have different views. And be kind!
Mike: Surround yourself with people you trust and respect. They will make you better for it. And be sincere!
Published July 14, 2021