Mary Kaye Waldron

Award Winner

P.U.L.S.E. Director David McMenamin Receives Mary Kaye Waldron Award
Heights Issue date: 3/27/01

The Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC) announced Dr. David McMenamin, director of the P.U.L.S.E. program and professor of philosophy, as the sixth recipient of the Mary Kaye Waldron Award two weeks ago, on March 13.

The Mary Kaye Waldron Award was established by UGBC in 1996 in honor of Mary Kaye Waldron, a BC student who died in 1995 after battling cancer since the age of 15. While at BC, Waldron was involved with the Salt and Light Company, the Jenks Leadership Program and was a manager of the men’s basketball team.

“She had a spirit about her, believing in caring and service to others, and encompassing the entire individual, very much like the Jesuit ideals that the University stands for,” said Samantha Buchan, co-director of faculty/administration-student relations for UGBC and A&S ’01. “She had a large impact on this campus; she was known by a lot of people.”

BC students wanted to remember Waldron and her spirit; thus the award is given annually to a faculty member or administrator who encompasses the ideals that Waldron exalted. Such qualities include service to others, challenging individuals and students, excelling in their assigned roles and going beyond their job to impact students lives.

This year, there were over 50 nominations for the award. “It is truly a unique award to this school because it is the only award where professors and administrators are both nominated and selected by the student body,” Buchan said.

“I was really overwhelmed by the response of Boston College students this year; so many people were nominated. I am grateful for the sense of spirit that so many of our faculty and administrators possess and how they continue to have that effect on students lives.”

McMenamin grew up in Philadelphia and went to Fordham University in New York for his bachelor’s degree in economics. Upon graduating from Fordham, he worked for an international shipping industry company for three-and-a-half years.
McMenamin then went to Villanova to obtain his master’s degree in philosophy and to the Washington Theological Union to get his master’s degree in theology.

After graduation, he began to work at Villanova, as both a philosophy professor and part-time faculty for the student life division at the university. McMenamin helped start a drug and alcohol program as well as being co-founder of the Villanova Center for Peace and Justice Education and the Center’s Journal for Peace and Justice Studies.

He also helped establish a student retreat program and helped lead those retreats. McMenamin remained at Villanova until 1987, when he began to work on his doctorate at BC.

While working on his doctorate, he taught Philosophy of the Person and Logic. When the position for director for P.U.L.S.E. opened up, McMenamin was chosen for the position. He is currently in his ninth year as P.U.L.S.E. director.

The P.U.L.S.E. program is an option for students to complete their core requirements in philosophy and theology in two semesters for 12 credits. The courses are accompanied by at least 10 hours of community service per week.

McMenamin told The Heights that his historical heroes are the Hebrew prophets, Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr. He also admires his high school math teacher, who loved teaching, has been very inspirational for him.

“Education, for him, was not his teaching so much as it was the students’ learning,” he said. “For me, looking at a student and seeing them begin to make the connections about what I teach them is the most rewarding experience.”

“Dr. McMenamin is completely dedicated to his students and to what he does. He challenges his students but doesn’t give them the answers. He wants them to discover the answer on their own. He pushes you to really challenge yourself and go to places you’ve never really thought about before,” said Buchan.

The Mary Kaye Waldron Award is perhaps McMenamin’s most prestgious award, but he has also received awards in teaching excellence as a graduate student as well as receiving awards from agencies that P.U.L.S.E. works with. While McMenamin did not personally know Waldron, he believes that “an award that people believe matters so much after someone is no longer here really says something about how significant that person was.”

McMenamin told The Heights that receiving the Mary Kaye Waldron Award is both a humbling and flattering experience, especially when he thinks of the students who nominated him.

“It is quite a meaningful award,” he said. “It is a recognition of the fact that the students here believe that there is a lot more to working in a university than merely academically educating them.”

“There are a handful of people on this campus who should receive this award, it was an extremely tough decision,” said Buchan. “Dr. McMenamin is such a deserving candidate and I couldn’t be more honored to give it to him.”

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