Alumni Advice

In the summer Sem's Alumni and Development office sent out an email to all alumni to ask what advice they would give to new students arriving on campus this fall. The responses we got were amazing - with heartfelt remembrances and advice that only a Sem alum could impart. Read on to learn "What it means to be a Blue Knight!"

In September 1967, I arrived for my first day at Sem as a boarding student after riding in a bus all night from Columbus, Ohio. The bus terminal was in downtown Wilkes-Barre near the square. I took a taxi from the square and was dropped off in front of Sprague Hall with my two suit cases. My strongest memory of that day was seeing and meeting John Shafer (my classmate and now Sem's Vice President for Advancement) and Dave Phillips (my classmate and son of the head coach of the boy's basketball team) standing on the steps of Darte Hall as I approached it to move in. Forty-six years later, I still count John Shafer among my most enduring friends. Part of what you gain from going to Sem are relationships with fellow students, faculty and staff that last a lifetime.
Michael Flowers '71
Have fun at Sem, and don't get caught sneaking off campus!
Rob Lewis '74
Congratulations on choosing Sem to kick-start the beginning of the rest of your life. Your education and experiences at Sem will be one of the most worthwhile attributes of your future. Good Luck!
Merry Maxwell '66
No time in my life is as memorable for me as the four years I spent at Sem. Not even college could measure up. I am approaching my 50th reunion in three years! So I've had many experiences ... but I still feel that my years at Sem have been some of the best! Great education, lifelong friends and wonderful sports! You are in for a treat!
Esther Peacock '70
SEM is an opportunity few receive...capitalize on the opportunity! SEM years will be one of the best experiences you'll have in life!
Brad Cox '89
If you want it AND it would further your development, ask for it. My freshman year we were all scheduled for General Science. I asked to skip ahead to Biology, the usual sophomore course. No problem, no hassle. I went on to become a National Merit Scholar. Maybe it was 50% me, but it was at least 50% Sem.
Tom Hartman '63
The beginning of the school year was always one of my favorite times at Sem. First as a freshman and then as a member of the Blue Crew, I involved myself in Orientation each of my four years because I loved the week leading up to the first day of classes. There's so much excitement, energy, and anticipation on campus, and everyone is looking to reach out to new people and make new friends. Much of the special atmosphere at Sem during Orientation (and beyond) is fueled by the simple fact that although incoming Blue Knights come from varied backgrounds, they are all united by the common experience of facing something NEW. Whether you're a lifer advancing to the Upper School or you've come to America from across the globe, there is no doubt you are bracing yourself to encounter something unfamiliar at Sem. It's expected to be nervous and homesick, and that's completely okay! But I would encourage all incoming students to focus on the amazing possibilities that come with a new environment and new relationships. You're staring at a blank page with a pen in your hand and the power to control how your Sem story begins; embrace that opportunity and make the most of it!
Paige Allen '17
Be prepared for some rigorous academic challenges but those challenges will help you make a difference in this world. Good luck!

Mike Close '82
Get to know as many students and faculty as possible. You are entering a welcoming and awesome community!C.J. Kersey '90
When you arrive at Sem, you may find the academics more difficult than you expected. If that happens to be the case for you, please don't get discouraged (as i did; i actually wanted to leave after a week or two). When you enter Sem and experience difficulty, remember that Sem is supposed to be more challenging than your former school. If you put in the necessary work and strive to get a bit better with each test or quiz, and you will find that things get easier as time passes. if you are a boarding student, and you are experiencing homesickness, it is not anything unusual. even the more-traveled-hardened students may find this to be true. At Sem, you are separated from your family. I believe that is the way Sem is supposed to work, because you are being prepared for college; and at college, you will be on your own. Sem will prepare you for the college experience. Consider Sem your family away from home, and this will help any students dealing with homesickness cope with it. You will find solace in knowing many other students feel the same way, and you will find comfort knowing that you can find support through Sem's faculty. It's been 53 years since I arrived on campus, and the moment is as clear today as it was in September of 1964. Get involved in student activities. Be part of Sem and Sem will become part of you. I hope you enjoy your experience at Wyoming Seminary. Mike Cunningham '65
Mike Cunningham '65
Welcome to Wyoming Seminary! You are about to embark on an educational, social, and perhaps also artistic and athletic adventure that will help shape your character and hone skills that will serve you well the rest of your lives. I am among the older alumni, but still have vivid memories of events, teachers, and classmates that remain important for me even today. I lived in Forty Fort and attended the Lower School for grades six through eight after five years at Durkee Street public elementary school just a few blocks away. At Sem I was a day student and hence my experience is like what I would have had had I attended a regular public school—except that Sem offered a far superior education. In that era it was relatively safe to hitchhike, and that is the way I often got to school from Forty Fort—not a mode of traveling I would advise anyone to try in today's more dangerous environment. Or sometimes my father would drop me off on his way to teach at Wilkes College (now University) across the river in Wilkes-Barre where he chaired the History Department. After I left to attend Princeton, my mother went to work as a social studies teacher at the Lower School where she worked for over a dozen years to help pay the bills. But I traveled back to town frequently during my freshman year to see my girl friend, who was two years behind me at Sem—and my first real romance. Among my most memorable moments, besides romance, at Sem were competing in butterfly (using the frog kick in those days) for four years on the swim team (which got to use the new pool starting in my sophomore year, the old pool having been in the basement of Sprague Hall and just 20 yards long, with a low ceiling that the divers sometimes hit in performing their dives), winning the Harvard Book Prize my junior year, scoring a perfect 800 on my French SAT (thanks to great teaching by Mr. Ted Abbot), getting the prize for best student-athlete my senior year (though I was neither the best athlete nor the best student, always #2 behind a classmate who later became a Harvard professor and winner of the MacArthur award, but who played no sports at all), and being inducted into the Cum Laude Society (at which occasion my father was the guest speaker). I was preceded at Sem by my brother George, who graduated three years ahead of me and went to Yale. He had also attended the Lower School and excelled both in sports (track and swimming) and in the classroom, thereby raising expectations from my teachers and coaches that I should excel equally. I never did as well as he did in athletics, but think I bettered him, slightly, in academics. If you have any older sibling who has set a high standard, don't complain but use it as a challenge to do as well or even better. Your time at Sem will go quickly but take full advantage of what it has to offer and you will be well prepared for the rest of your life, with fond memories to follow you into old age.Sanford Thatcher '61
Hang out on Back Campus, the Bell Tower steps, or the benches in front of Fleck when the weather is nice. Go all-out during Spirit Week. Wear your Society colors loud and proud. Get to know your teachers. Reach out to the classmate who seems to have different interests than you. Embrace the kindness, compassion, support, encouragement, dedication, and generosity that defines the Sem family, and offer it in return. The people who surround you--your friends, your teachers, your dean's team, your coaches--will make you a better person. They will bring out all that is best in your, help you to realize your potential, inspire you to always be better tomorrow than you are today, and show you the true meaning of friendship and mentorship.

Jessica Swoboda '11
I'm a local boy, whose grandfather was a coalminer and yes, I did crack coal throughout my high school years. Seminary took me from being an ok student to one who qualified to be a PENN Quaker. Through my PENN connections, I became the #1 salesperson nationwide, for AFLAC, for four years. Those proceeds let me send my son Justin to Sem. He qualified to go to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a dual degree. We both made the Dean's List at our respective universities. So while it may be a challenging investment of time and money; it usually opens up the opportunities you may be seeking. It worked for us. Good luck in your endeavors. JRPENN Class of '76

Joe Ryncavage '72
Enjoy every second of SEM. Your teachers and peers will challenge you, be your greatest educators but most of all they will push you to be great. My time at SEM gave me so much, but one of the greatest gifts it gave me was mentors. Listen to your teachers but most of all listen to each other and take every opportunity. Welcome to SEM and enjoy these next 4 years!

Sarah Touey '14
Wyoming seminary offers so many different groups and opportunities . My advice is join as many groups , go to as many events, and do as many things on campus as you can! One of my strongest points in business and life today is the aspect of being able to network with almost anyone , from all of the priveledges and wonderful things I learned at Wyoming Sem!

Tyler Linde '11
Wyoming seminary offers so many different groups and opportunities. My advice is join as many groups , go to as many events, and do as many things on campus as you can! One of my strongest points in business and life today is the aspect of being able to network with almost anyone , from all of the privileges and wonderful things I learned at Wyoming Sem!

Dan Cabot
Being a boarding student at age 15 was one of the most important events of my life. Wyoming Seminary shaped my future. Enjoy the ride and don't take it for granted.

Howard Watson '61
Take advantage of the wonderful language teachers at Sem and do all you can to cultivate fluency in the foreign language of your choice. You will be so glad you did!!!!!

John Pfeiffer '68
Advice: Take advantage of the Early Bird Special at Sweet Treet.

Mike Russin '11
Get ready to become yourself! I remember carrying a green trunk to the third floor--being excited and terrified. I was 16 and a junior. I was given a big sister, Vicki, who is still one of my best, forever friends. I learned to think at Sem--really think. Best wishes on your journey!

Lisa Harris '70