Director of Admissions & Financial Aid Janet Donnelly Keller '79 was named Cub of the Month by the SGA for May's Little Virtue of Hospitality. She shared this reflection with students at the SGA Assembly on 5/7/18.
By definition, hospitality is the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors and strangers. As I thought about what to say to all of you today, I reflected on the path that I have chosen in my life. I chose professions that incorporate hospitality into them – as a math/science teacher for 20+ years and now in Admissions. It is so rewarding for me to welcome students and their families, but it is even more important to establish relationships.
I was fortunate to attend Visitation as a student (GO WHITE TEAM!) and to establish lifelong friendships. My classmates and I still get together once a month, not only to catch up, but also to be authentic and genuine with one another. True friendships are gifts that we are so lucky to have.
Sometimes I hear girls say, “I haven’t really found my best friends yet” – girls, I assure you that you will. Cultivating true friendship bonds takes time. This is where hospitality matters: smile, reach out to others that you don’t know as well, be as inclusive as possible
You will graduate from Visitation with many close friends, but realize that you need to foster and facilitate those friendships. Be hospitable; sometimes that may mean just listening to one another. Difficult times and things happen in life. Knowing you will always have your friends to turn to, is a gift!
In life, we make decisions as to how we embrace each and every day: the glass half-full or half-empty. For me, I will always choose the glass half-full. I am certain that my father was my inspiration for my outlook on life. As the youngest of 7 children, I was raised in a very hospitable environment. My mother and 6 siblings were very welcoming, but it was most definitely my father who had a very charismatic personality. That was his trademark. He had the gift to make you feel welcome no matter what the situation. Life can throw you some curve balls, so you have to know yourself and think about how you are going to handle situations moving forward. When given the choice, choose the “cheerful optimism” route.
One of the elements of hospitality for me is a sense of humor. Laugh often – it is essential. Don’t take yourself too seriously! Know that in life, we are all supposed to make mistakes. The key is how you handle yourself in good times and in bad.
My final thought is this (thanks to TED talks): Here are some ways to have a better conversations and be hospitable to make connections or build relationships:
1. Be present (no multi-tasking).
2. Enter every conversation as if you have something to learn.
3. Go with the flow.
4. LISTEN – most important!
Goal: Be interested in other people! “Talk to people, listen to people and be prepared to be amazed!”
Thank you so much for allowing me to speak with you today! Be the best you can be at all times! I love the saying – “Make it a great day, insist on it!”