One of my talented students sent me a great thank-you recently after I helped her leave her job at a supermarket for a career position in journalism.
I was happy to help her, and it is all because a nationally recognized conductor from the Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia once helped me. Let me explain.
In 1990, I was a public relations assistant at the Pennsylvania Ballet. It was my first job after graduating from Villanova University and I loved it.
Part of my job involved shepherding kids from “The Nutcracker” to appearances in Philadelphia. I got to watch “Swan Lake” from the wings more than 15 times. It was a joy.
But the Pennsylvania Ballet was going through a tumultuous financial crisis then. And in March 1990, I was laid off. I was devastated. And I was also poor, since I had only been making $17,000 a year and now had no paycheck. It was a recession and I had just been canned from my first job. What was I going to do?
Out of the blue, I got a phone call at home from Maurice Kaplow, the genial conductor of the Pennsylvania Ballet. I didn’t even know he knew my name. He spoke kindly and gave me a contact for a job at the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. His recommendation helped get me a job at WAC in the Program Department and lifted me out of unemployment.
It was a great job and even better, the flex schedule in the summer allowed me to blossom as a freelancer for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
While I liked my job at WAC, I realized I loved being a journalist and in time, made a career switch. For the next dozen years, I worked as a newspaper reporter at papers across the country. Now I have the best job – as a tenured college professor at Rowan University.
This is due to Maury Kaplow, a conductor and musician who took a chance on me and reached out. Kaplow later left the Pennsylvania Ballet and went on to a storied career as principal conductor for the New York City Ballet. He retired a few years ago.
We are no longer in touch, but I think of him and his kindness often. He lent me a helping hand when I truly needed one and I make sure to pay it forward to my students. Thanks, Maury.
Quigley is a columnist for Metro Philadelphia. She is an associate professor of journalism at Rowan University and a Philadelphia native. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.