Chicopee’s John L. Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund: 2011 Completed 35 Races Across 24 States!

 What Should My Next Goal Be For The Scholarship Fund?

52 in 52 in 52

January 01st, 2011 launched my personal commitment to run 52 road races, in 52 weeks, across 52 States and Territories across the United States, all to benefit the John L Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund, serving college bound students in Chicopee, Massachusetts…..Read more…

Higher Education

Donate to the John L. Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund.  With cooperation with the Chicopee (Massachusetts) PTO , this running challenge revolves around the legacy of one of the Nation’s leading superintendent of  schools whose scholarship fund helps college bound high school students defray the costs of higher education…….Read more…

Banker, Educator Activist

Rick Roque, is an entrepreneur and an activist; He combines his passion for economic development & higher education with causes that have a social purpose…….Read more…

John L Fitzpatrick

John L. Fitzpatrick was my grandfather. To many, he was the “Father of the modern Chicopee School system”, wrote the Holyoke Transcript on the day he retired as superintendent of schools in Chicopee, Massachusetts from 1946 to 1966. He also was the leading expert in the United States on the interrelationship and impact of military bases on public schools. His mastery of federal and state public school financing enabled effective and efficient reimbursement of funds to cities with military influenced transient families throughout the country. At the Federal level, my Grandfather was responsible for what was known as “Fitzpatrick’s law”, Federal Acts which provide funds for school systems impacted by military families who frequently moved and were not counted for state census and school funding purposes.  As one of the few superintendents in the United States to have the opportunity to testify before Congress, he is credited for influencing the passage of this legislation in the 1950’s. Additionally, he was credited for setting up the public school framework on military bases around the world.  A graduate of Chicopee public and parochial schools, he held a degree in education from Fitchburg state Teachers College, with additional coursework at Harvard and Boston University. My Grandfather was an innovator, leveraging technology (closed circuit television in the classrooms in the 1950’s) and other communication systems in order to deliver content to students who had physical challenges were were disabled.

He passed on in 1993 when I was a sophomore in college. He was generous, smart and given his Irish sense of humor, a man who always had a story. He was a man of his day. Grandpa was elegant, tall, handsome, firm, adventurous, loyal and loving. He was (and still is) a Red Sox fan, always rooting for Notre Dame Football. A real man of the outdoors, he was a fisherman, a hunter and the quintessential cook over a grill. To my mother and her three sisters and brother, Grandpa was a father, a husband, provider, mentor, disciplinarian and of course, educational leader. He was a faithful Catholic who always had close relationships in the Diocese and his respective Parish Priests at St. Patrick’s in Chicopee. He was truly an extraordinary man. Grandpa was a historic man and since his passing, a mythical figure in our family.

Grandpa was generous and accepting. He married Flora Beauchamp from Chicopee Falls (Massachusetts).    The Beauchamps moved to Chicopee from Montreal, Quebec around 1890.    The Fitzpatricks and Sullivans (my Grandfather’s Mother’s family) came to Massachusetts sometime around the civil war – the mid 1800′s and to Chicopee sometime soon thereafter.  Diversity at the time was the Irish, Polish and French building friendships and working together in the same community; my Grandfather just happened to marry one.  Flora was a supportive yet independent woman who pursued her post secondary education in the Sorbonne (Paris, France in the 920′s) and she graduated from New Rochelle College in New York.  This was a family that was committed to education regardless of the obstacles or social constraints.  He prioritized African Americans into the educational environment during a heavily discriminatory time in U.S. history. He was a Catholic leader in the community and during a time when Catholic parents sent their children to Catholic schools, he was firmly committed to public education.   Social constructions were not the guiding principle for them – it was certain core values that revolved around education, personal liberty and the freedom to do whatever someone felt called to pursue.

The John L Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund and its origins are well known.  The origin of the scholarship fund is based on the many successful milestones that were achieved under his leadership.  In the 1950s, to serve the evolving awareness of the importance of post-secondary education, the Chicopee school district sponsored various fund raisers to financially assist students who chose to go to college. These fundraisers were school dances, police department activities and overall donor appeals. In 1956, the school district decided to honor my Grandfather’s service by naming a scholarship fund after him.  Ever since this date, these financial scholarships are awarded to students to assist and encourage them to go on to college.  To this day, after more than 50 years since his retirement, this is the only source of scholarship funding for students that is based in Chicopee, Massachusetts; I marvel at this legacy.  During the course of our professional careers, how many of us would like to touch the lives of millions of people who are directly or indirectly affected by our work? But to imagine having such a legacy 50 years after your retirement, even 20+ years after you death?  It is truly a remarkable commemoration that continue to serves the lives of future leaders in Western Massachusetts.

To add to the the legacy of the Foundation, here is what I was told by family members and friends of Grandpa who knew him during this time. In the 1940’s and 1950′s, Teachers went years without getting raises and the schools had limited resources.  And yet, during this time period, there were several occasions when the school district wanted to honor Grandpa’s hard work with modest increases in pay.  My Grandfather politely turned down such increases until the teachers in the district could receive the same.  On several occasions, bonuses and other forms of monies were offered to my Grandfather, rather than turning down these generous and well-intended bonuses, Grandpa requested that these increases be placed into the fund.  And it was from these and many other examples of his leadership his legacy was formed.  His selflessness earned him a great deal of respect and admiration from his teachers.

I acknowledge the story and my focus on specific points of interest are entirely biased with the love and admiration for my Grandfather. This is the nature and power of reflective analysis.  So, here is to you Grandpa. As you watch your Red Sox games, eternally cheering for the Fighting Irish and holding the precious hand of Mim, I ask for your intercession in life and especially during these painful fun runs….. :-)

Grandpa, this is dedicated to you and your commitment to life, education and the pursuit of one’s dreams beyond the limits that are before us………

Donate To The John L Fitzpatrick Educational Fund

About Rick Roque

I am a Banker, Business Man, Technologist and an Activist.   I am not sure what other words describe me.  I am always conscious as to whether or not I am succeeding or doing my fair share in life.  I generally feel I can be contributing more than what I am doing at any given point in time.  As a result, I feel I am drawn toward performance with a tendency toward pushing myself (and those around me) to extremes.  Why not run 1 road race for charity?  Why not train for a single marathon?  Why run 52 races in 52 states & territories? These are the questions from many of my friends and family about this endeavor;  truly for me, that wouldn’t be enough.  Personally, I am just simply driven.  Additionally, in order to sustain this drive, I need to be connected to a higher purpose in order to truly tap into the energy, drive and ambition that I have.  I believe this is the case for anyone, especially for those reading this right now.  We all have this deep passion within us to accomplish something out of our normal comfort zone; we just need a motivation behind it.

But the challenge is our ordinary routine of going to work – sitting in our office, reporting to our respective management or investors, always trying to win the next deal, aiming to earn money in order to spend it on things that simply do not matter….all of this tends to drive this sense of ambition more deeply into ourselves, never to truly emerge.  These feelings lie dormant, awaiting for something to re-awaken them so they can emerge.  They reside in each and everyone of us.  It just takes a specific moment in our lives in order for them to be unleashed, and for me this is one step in that process!  I hope you can discover this in you as well.

Professionally, I have done well. In technology,  banking and higher education, I have had my successes and failures.  Overall, I am extremely fortunate in what I have accomplished.  And yet, I still desire to do more than what I have accomplished already.  This desire, in essence is a reflection of my resistance to the formality of the day to day – to never settle for something less.  The routine that tends to kill ambition, ideas and innovation is what I long to resist.  As we grow older we get comfortable with the status quo, even if the status quo is dysfunctional, inefficient or unhealthy.  But for some reason, people stay; they eat what they are comfortable eating; they stay in companies despite their unhappiness; they teach subjects they are no longer passionate for; they embrace the mediocrity of ambition rather than pursuing excellence in their own life.

Pertaining to this project, USAFunRun.Com, I have linked my passion for helping people, college education and my ambition to go to extremes, together with something that I consider to be a higher purpose – for me.  My motivation is to help raise money for the John L Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund.   John L. Fitzpatrick was my grandfather.  Refer to the page I have on his life and legacy in education and you’ll see why he motivates my ambitions.  You can do so, my clicking here- John L. Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund Information.

I always have this urge to push myself beyond limits I know exist but I refuse to acknowledge.  My goal is to prove to myself that personal development is a life long pursuit.  In my conversations with educators, working professionals and consumers across the country, too many people give up on their goals – they allow their circumstances to discourage them and they rest in dreams not yet realized.  It is for these reasons, I continue to push toward accomplishing a goal.  To act as a model to my children that they should NEVER give up and to work tirelessly toward the process of accomplishing their goals;  to not just “think” big but to “act” big as well.   Faith in one’s self; Hope that there is always a way, and the ability to love those around us are all virtues that underpin one’s ability to be successful.  My Grandfather epitomized this in his devotion to St. Jude, the Patron Saint of the Impossible and it permeated his life’s work reflected in the John L. Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund.  

So, what does Banking, Technology and Higher Education
have to do with Running?


Academic:

I graduated from University of Steubenville in 1991, in Electrical Engineering Science and Catholic Theology from the University of Steubenville (Ohio).  I earned my Masters of Science in Technology Management from the University of St. Thomas in 2000, and completed graduate research in Physics at U.C. Berkley (1998 with Dr. Bernard Flam).  I am a public policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute where I researched alternative sources of revenue and funding in Higher Education Finance (2001). I am presently a Doctoral Student in Higher Education Finance at American International College (AIC), in the heart of beautiful New England and historic Springfield, Massachusetts.   I am the youngest of 8 children.  My Father is a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel and cold war pilot.  A man whose ethics have made him very successful in business and all facets of life.   My Mother is an educator and military wife, who over the years, effectively managed the family through dozens of moves, transitions and life situations.  A highly successful couple, both personally and professionally.  I don’t know of two people who have managed all that they have so successfully, and did so with such integrity and humor.  Understanding this as my back drop, I am an over achiever.  I am always achieving and looking to achieve more.  I don’t really think I’ve ever felt acknowledged for my accomplishments- both personally or professionally; but I nevertheless, keep achieving and looking to achieve more.  It is a personal irony.  I am 38 years old and I still feel like I have a great deal to prove – to whom, I am not quite sure, but making an impact on my family, friends, markets, industries, companies and higher education institutions are all important to me.

Professional:

I have a unique ability of intersecting technology, business objectives and execution.   I am a non operating partner of MENLO Company, a consulting firm whose focus is on Banking, focusing on mortgage liquidity, lending technology and M&A.  Additionally, I have done several projects in Lagos, Nigeria and Kabul, Afghanistan that have supported the development efforts for post secondary institutions.  I am skilled at establishing business models, raising money and creating new revenue channels for organizations that didn’t exist previously.  I am innovative in my ability to pool resources together to accomplish stated objectives – and quickly.  USAFunRun.Com is one example of many. I am very conscious of the fact that I tend to challenge the status quo – for those who don’t like change or can’t adapt, they quickly become threatened by my drive toward accomplishing new goals in a changing world.  In many circumstances, this is a highly successful characteristic, but there have been times, I simply didn’t respect the delicate nature of change.  In order to be truly successful, one needs to be sensitive to the context of change and how others are impacted by it.  On several occasions, I have been affected by “The Physics of Change”, when opposing forces rightfully resist initiatives I was promoting.  And yes, this has limited by ability to be successful at times.  By reflecting on those circumstances, I make changes to my approach while maintaining committed to my ability to get things accomplished.  My professional history is summed up in high tech, start-up companies, M&A and banking (mortgages, higher educational finance) with a strong passion toward making an impact on companies, nonprofits, higher educational institutions and the community around me.

A more detailed breakdown of my professional work is in my Linkedin profile:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/rickroque

Always Running:

I was an athlete but I am a runner.  There is something about running that always makes you a runner.  Many men my age, live in the glory days of when they were an athlete.  But, in shape or not, once a runner, always a runner.  If you are a runner, you know what I mean.   I attended Rice Memorial High School, in beautiful South Burlington, Vermont.   I was an all state and New England Basketball player (Alhambra) but I was a strong and enduring runner.  I was (and am) fiercely competitive.  From my first Track race in 4th grade all the way to my races in College, I strove toward winning.  While in high school, I was a 4 time state champion in Track (1500m, 3000m) and rated the #1 Cross Country runner in New England in 1990.  Playing basketball in college earned more attention but my heart was running Cross Country and Track at the University of Hartford (Connecticut).

Running was part of my identity and it shapes my thought processes today.  As a child, my 2nd grad teacher, Mrs. Como, nicknamed me “Rick The Runner” because all I did was run around the school – in the hall ways; at recesses, at gym class and quite honestly, in and around the classroom.  Thank God behavioral sciences were in their infancy because they would have had all kinds of labels for such activity…Dan Johnson and Matt Geiger, you know exactly what I am talking about.

The last competitive race I ran prior to USAFunRun.Com was 2005 when  I ran the Minneapolis Half Marathon; it was painful and a terrible race for me, but at the same time, it reminded me that in my heart, I will always be a runner.  Since then, I have sat in business meetings, traveled the world and simply dreamed about running.  Running, in many ways haunts me.  My past races, former competitors and race flash backs come to mind frequently.  I find myself running in my dreams; The sound of someone breathing reminds me of runners coming up from behind; running is all around me – it is when I run to catch a flight; when I run after my kids; when I walk briskly at a mall, I imagine the people around me as competitors – I simply am always in a race of some sort. I have come to understand that life, to me is about running, a road race that I started many years ago, with a finish line not yet known.  Thus is the life of a runner.

USAFunRun.Com is a return to this for me.  It is a fusion of who I am.  This combines my identity and history as a runner, with my professional national travel schedule in banking, along with a deep love for family and a commitment to higher education.  For the connection between the John L. Fitzpatrick Scholarship Fund and Education, go to the following web link:  http://www.usafunrun.com/?page_id=398