Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Play With A Purpose: Triple Honors for Gordon

“We are in the business of making people smile. We are not selling to people. We are trying to show them the importance of a healthy, joyful life.”- Marcos Castellano, senior in the Recreation and Leisure Studies program.

When people think of academics, recreation and leisure are two of the last words that usually come to mind. But the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department at Gordon strives to show the importance of leisure in our collective and individual lives. Through holistic study of the quality of life, the department seeks to enrich student lives and their communities. The department's excellence was recognized at this year’s Massachusetts Recreation and Park Associate (MRPA) Conference in which three Gordon representatives were honored for excellence in the field.

Student Marcos Castellano ’13 was named Student of the Year, alumnus Peter Coleman ’03 won Professional of the Year and Professor Peggy Hothem received a special citation for 40 years of service in the field. Professor Hothem—who won the Peter O’Brien Humanitarian award in 2003, the highest honor bestowed by the MRPA—was recognized this year as a long-time member of the organization and for initiating the recreation and leisure studies major at Gordon in 1990.

Though multi honors in one day are rare at the conference, it wasn't surprising to the awards committee that the cream-of-the-crop this year were from Gordon College. "It is unusual for three award recipients to come from one organization," said Doig, who also serves as director to one of the most beautiful ocean adjacent park and recreation programs in the state. "I think this success is a direct result of the great work Dr. Hothem has done over the past 35 years," said Doig. "She has created a great Recreation and Leisure Studies program. Her active involvement in the MRPA over the years has helped many students network within our industry and not only get valuable internships and training but go on to become outstanding recreation professionals."

So what does a student of recreation and leisure look like? Take Marcos Castellano. A committed student and outdoor enthusiast, he has worked at several branches of the North Shore YMCA, and served as assistant to the youth and family director there as an intern in the fall of 2011. He is a captain of the swim team and has worked as a lifeguard for the state of Massachuestts for the past four years, in the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Professor Hothem recommended Marcos for the Student of the Year award, deeming him a “cordial and thoughtful man with a strong sense of responsibility and a servant leadership disposition.”

A Lynn native, he benefited greatly from the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA while growing up. “I gravitated toward my family at home, and at these places, and it kept me out of trouble,” he says, noting that growing up in Lynn was no easy task as kids must overcome pressures to engage in nefarious activities.

As a youth, Marcos nearly drowned twice. But he overcame his fear of the water becoming a lifeguard as a teenager. “Part of it was showing myself I could overcome my fear,” he says. “The other part was a preventative measure. I wanted to make sure other kids didn’t have similar scares.” And overcome it he did. Marcos joined his swim team in eighth grade and has kept at it ever since, elected by his teammates this year to be a captain on the Gordon College swim team.

Marcos attended a technical high school and thought he was going to be an electrical engineer. But his passions never quite aligned with this prospect and when his electrical teacher junior year saw Marcos’ passion for recreation, he urged him to pursue it.

The recreation and leisure major, according to Marcos, is more than just play. “Rec and leisure at Gordon is an all-encompassing major. It draws from all disciplines: sociology, psychology, education and communications. It is a field that opens your eyes to far more than being a P.E. teacher. It opens you up to a way of living and a way of enjoying life to the fullest.” The departmental verse, John 10:10, echoes this notion: “I have come so that you may have life and live it to the fullest.”

Marcos graduates this May and hopes to continue working either with the YMCA or the Department of Conservation and Recreation. He wants to use his background with sports studies, health and fitness to become a trainer or a swimming coach. Marcos feels confident Gordon prepared him for work in his field. “The advisors in my major really work hard to network for students. I feel that after graduation I will have resources for employment opportunities, and that is very important.” As the world continues to stress the importance of productivity and efficiency, Marcos wants to show people the value of leading a balanced life and getting the most out of it. “Our job as leaders is to bring smiles to people, to show them the beauty of a life well led, and connect with them through the universal language of laughter."


Blogger: Mac Gostow ’13. Mac is a communication arts major from California and a student writer in the Office of College Communications at Gordon College. With a double minor in business administration and sociology, Mac has interned for CBS News in New York City, is a founder of ScotRadio, performs with the Sweaty Tooth Madmen improv troupe, and served as a show host for KURadyo in Istanbul, Turkey.

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