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September 11, 2001

By Joan Killough-Miller

In the weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks, the WPI community drew closer, through e-mail exchanges between President Edward Alton Parrish and the alumni e-mail list. Almost 200 alumni – from New York, Washington, Denmark, Hong Kong, Guatemala, and all over the globe – responded via alumni-hotline@wpi.edu to report how they and their loved ones fared during the national tragedy. Many checked in with their WPI roommates and classmates, then relayed their status to the hotline. Sadly, the death of one alumnus – Leonard Taylor '79 – was reported. His obituary appears in the printed version of Transformations.

Along with eyewitness accounts, many close calls, and some losses, came comments that showed the true nature of the WPI family. We are proud to share a sampling on these pages.

Below are the responses we were able to include in the print version of Transformations. We are pleased to be able to present even more comments here, in Eyewitnesses to History.

If you would like your e-mail address added to WPI's database, notify alumni-office@wpi.edu. Your comments and reactions are always welcome at alumni-hotline@wpi.edu.

"Thank you for sending out a letter of deep comfort and deep concern."

-- Sang Ki Lee '60

"As one of the first few women on campus back in the '70s, I had a wonderful experience at WPI and will never forget it. I chose WPI over other engineering schools because the spirit on the campus was 'wholistic.' By that, I mean that the students I met seemed to have a complete life perspective . . . they were involved in all levels of society, not just their books and technical interests. Your note and follow-up make me believe that my initial impression still stands."

-- Karen Chesney Honold '78

"After the Worcester warehouse fire in 1999, I was proud to call myself a WPI alumnus in light of all the actions taken by Worcester's educational community on behalf of the fallen firefighters. Once again, I ask what we (WPI) could do for the families and children of the victims as well as fallen emergency personnel in the NYC attack?

-- Paul Paulino '94

"Please don't forget those alumni who are in the military gearing up to defend and protect our country. They need prayers and support also. WPI was and continues to be a very close, special family."

-- Jennifer Atkins '93

"On Homecoming Day, I stood on the quad, thinking back on how many classes have been touched by war, and wondering how many more classes will be. WPI is truly a role model, with people from all countries, religions and socioeconomic standings living together in harmony. It gives me hope to know it can exist on a small scale."

-- Sherri Curria '93

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my classmate and friend Lenny Taylor. Even though it's been 20 years or so since we were housemates down on Trowbridge Road, I remember it like it was yesterday. The world will miss Lenny because he was a genuinely nice person. The tears are bouncing off the keys. Lenny, you are in our thoughts, and your loved ones are in our prayers."

-- Sidney Afonso '79

"My husband received the e-mail today from President Parrish. I work as an educational consultant helping high school juniors and seniors with the college search process. I have forwarded the letter to all my students who are considering WPI to let them get a sense of the caring and concerned nature of your university."

-- Susan Piqueira, wife of Philip Piquera '72

"I've been expecting an attack like this for years now. It was just a question of when, where and how bad. Perhaps if history was better taught by our schools, including WPI, then people, our government included, would not have been caught by surprise by this attack. The fundamental lesson of history is that the world is full of desperate, hateful, deluded people who cannot or will not be helped or reasoned with. We need to admit that reality now and take the serious steps needed to make these atrocities less likely in the future."

-- Jeff Barry '74


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