Alumni Profile: All in the Family
Dan Nagle, B.A. ’11; Susan O’ Neill, B.A. ’91, M.P.A. ’93; Kathleen Skullney, B.A. ’91, J.D. ’93
They may share close ties, but Kathleen Skullney, B.A. ’91, J.D. ’83, and two of her children took very different paths to arrive at UB. Together, they compare and contrast their educational experiences and their perspectives on how UB has shaped their lives.
What expectations did you have when you began at UB?
Skullney: Returning to school after having been away for 20 years, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had no well-defined expectations, but I was hoping dearly to find that I could reignite my intellectual and academic life. UB [placed] a lot of emphasis on adults who were returning to higher education, especially women, as well as those older adults who were coming to higher education for the first time.
Susan O’Neill, B.A. ’91, M.P.A. ’93: I was putting myself through school and was looking forward to being at a smaller school. I was hoping things would work out at UB because otherwise, I think, I would have just given up on college.
Dan Nagle, B.A. ’11: I sort of grew up here because of my mom [being in law school here when I was a teenager], so I pretty much knew what to expect. I also was working full time at UB while I was earning my undergraduate degree. I didn’t look anywhere else; I just transferred in.
What particular experiences do you recall from your time on campus?
Nagle: UB was very much created for a student like me. I was a bit older, taking things a little bit at a time and trying to knock things out online or in the evening, and the culture of the school was very supportive of that. While I was a student, I got married, had three children and rehabbed a house in Little Italy. And when I talked to other students, I’d hear the same story: People were working one or two jobs, had children and so forth, and that was the norm. And everyone was very encouraging and supportive.
Skullney: At UB, I was able to be at the top academically. I graduated in the top 10 percent of my law school class, although I never got more than four hours of sleep a night. [As a more mature student,] I also had the advantage of having life experiences that enhanced my academic career. It was a significant experience personally to be able to return to school and to really succeed and truly feel that I could achieve a law school degree that I really cherish. But it was frightening in some ways. My fellow students were 20 years younger than I was, and they all called me Mrs. Skullney.
O’Neill: I loved that professors and students had real work experience ... learning was not just about what you read in the textbooks. The professors were always willing to talk to you, even if you didn’t have an appointment. All you needed to do was to knock on the door, and they always made you feel that you really mattered.
Do you have any advice for those considering UB?
O’Neill: I loved the urban setting, and we really took advantage of all the city had to offer but never felt overwhelmed by the city. It is a wonderful place to get work experience ... as a senior, I had an internship with a state senator during the legislative session, and UB helped me get that internship.
Skullney: I would tell students of any age that it is a place of great opportunity and with great humanity and to go for it!
Nagle: One of my professors who got his law degree here always talked about UB as being the hidden gem of Baltimore city, and I couldn’t agree more.
O’Neill: There’s enormous loyalty on the part of UB graduates. I have a UB bumper sticker on my car, and while [I’m] filling my car up with gas, people have said to me, “Oh, you went to UB? I went there as well.” Things like that can turn into a networking opportunity because most alums have had such great experiences.
Nagle: People on the staff and faculty still talk to me about my sister and my mother. I guess that is a testament to how tied in the staff and the faculty are to their students.