Trading Places: Student and President Switch
Kristin Catena '09 and President L. Jay Lemons took a walk in each other’s shoes in April, though in this case a quick jog with the occasional sprint might more aptly describe the pace that marked their busy schedules. Participating in the Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) honor society’s fundraiser “Jay for the Day,” Catena adopted Lemons’ schedule and shadowed him as he pursued presidential duties, while the university president spent the day living the life of a student.
Brittany Bunting '09 conceived “Jay for the Day,” and ODK brought the idea to Lemons, emphasizing the event’s appeal as an opportunity for him to immerse himself in the campus community.
“I was delighted by their initiative and their desire to raise the visibility of ODK,” says Lemons. “Supporting these outstanding student leaders and the efforts of ODK to raise its visibility and to help a worthy cause were the primary benefits from my perspective.” ODK members then sold dollar chances for students to effectively switch lives with Lemons for the day. Catena was the lucky winner of the drawing. The fund-raiser netted $400, half of which went to LifeTies Inc., the charity Catena, as winner, chose LifeTies is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting young people suffering from abuse, neglect, homelessness, disease and other struggles.
For Catena, being “Jay for the Day” wasn’t just about the ephemeral joys of sitting in on presidential meetings and watching Lemons crank out Mary Had a Little Lamb on her harp during her music lesson. The experience was one that also offered insight. She had the privilege of shadowing the president during his Chamber of Commerce meeting, watching the organization of his schedule for the following school year, and sharing lunch with senior staff members while Lemons attended her anthropology class. “My favorite parts of the day were actually those that I spent with Jay,” says Catena. “I got a chance to understand not only his job, but him as a person.”
The president identified watching SU faculty at work as his favorite part of the day. “Without a doubt, it was the joy of being back in the classroom, watching and learning as faculty members skillfully worked with our students. At heart, I am a teacher and a learner, and being in a classroom is always a special privilege and pleasure,” says Lemons. “The day was a terrific reaffirmation for me of Susquehanna’s academic excellence and of the extraordinary opportunities that are provided to our students.”
“Jay for the Day” was such a success, ODK is considering making it an annual fund-raiser.
Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Victoria Kidd and Billie Tadros ’10.