(my Baba, Anna, mom Colleen, wife Laura, sister Angie, and brother-in-law Greg)
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I had the great pleasure yesterday to return to the idyllic campus of my undergraduate Alma Mater, Kutztown University, in order to accept an Early Career Excellence Alumni Award. The four years I spent at Kutztown ('96-'00) rank among the very best years of my life, and to receive an award from the university is a great honor. Truly, no words of mine can express just how appreciative I am; indeed, I find it hard to believe. That I was chosen for the award came as a surprise, and I must thank everyone who made it possible. My sister, Dr. Angie Hoptak-Solga, who has been a hero of mine my entire life and who currently teaches biology at Kutztown, put in my name for nomination. Unknown to me, she then recruited my wife, Laura, to get letters of recommendation from a few of my colleagues at Antietam, Rangers Christie Stanczak and Alann Schmidt, who both kept the secret while submitting letters to the Alumni Awards Committee. I cannot thank them enough for the honor. The same could be said for the committee who selected me as one of the four recipients for this award. Yesterday was the first time in a long while that I walked the campus of Kutztown, and though much has changed--new and improved classroom buildings and dorms--I still felt as though I was returning home. Kutztown has, and will continue to hold, a very special place in my heart. As far as I am concerned, a better institution of higher learning cannot be found. The professors at Kutztown treat their students fairly, with respect, and provide great guidance and instruction. Missing is the air of intellectualy snobbery that define far too many university faculties. At Kutztown, the professors focus on the students and on quality instruction, and not just on their own careers. Teaching is in no way incidental to their positions; it is their focus. Grateful is hardly an adequate enough term to describe how I feel about all the support I have received from Kutztown and from my professors over the years. So, to my family, and to everyone else who made this award possible, thank you. It is truly a great honor.
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