Mason Passavant ’12, Jonathan Farrell ’16, and Frank Perrotti ’17 each rattled off name after name of faculty and staff members who influenced them while at Xavier. Each spoke about how Xavier helped shape their lives. And that is in part why each has given back to Xavier this school year amid the COVID challenge.
Xavier has been fortunate to have alumni help cover classes for colleagues who at times have not been physically present in the classroom in the 2020-2021 school year. While the teacher instructs virtually, the alum is the classroom to help in any way needed.
Passavant has done so all year. Farrell has been here for the second semester. Perrotti was here during the first semester and still helps out periodically. Regis O’Neill ‘14 and Brendan Donohue ’19 also helped out for a few weeks.
“I love it,” Passavant said. “It doesn’t feel different at all. It’s crazy how low the [faculty and staff] turnover is here. People want to be here. They care about the students, and that level of care continues to astound me. And now I am getting a fuller version of that, which has always been educating the whole person and not just what’s between the lines of a textbook. It’s about everything else.”
Passavant is a Georgetown graduate who started law school but realized it was not for him. He remained in New York doing odds jobs before coming back home to Connecticut and Xavier.
“Xavier was critical to my development as a person and I was always looking for a way to pay that back,” Passavant said.
Passavant, who was on the Ultimate Frisbee team all four years here, will help David Applegate coach the team this year. The experience in the classroom has Passavant interested in teaching. He has done some SAT tutoring work.
Farrell ’16 graduated from Bates in the spring of 2020, via Zoom of course, and then worked for AmeriCorps, his stint ending early in January.
“I had always kept in contact with Brother Ryan, and he told me Xavier needed some help, so that’s how I got here,” Farrell said.
He came here a different person than when he left. He was a leader of a group of about nine people in AmeriCorps. Their work ranged from disaster relief after Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and Texas to helping Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army. They slept anywhere from church basements to tents. And ever present was COVID.
“I think the experience really changed my life, gave me more confidence for one thing, and if Xavier had not instilled in me the value of service I never would have done something like that,” Farrell said. “And I think this was at a time when service to our country was really needed.”
Farrell would like to be a teacher and eventually get a Master’s in Creative Writing and English. For now, he’s happy to back here, helping his alma mater.
“My growth here was helped along by certain teachers, and I love being back, working with students, and getting involved,” Farrell said.
After graduating from Xavier Perrotti went to Central but also enlisted into the Connecticut Army National Guard. After a year at Central he trained for nine months to become a Chinook helicopter mechanic. He came back to Central, and he was deployed to Afghanistan from 2019-2020.
“A lot of different situations were going on at the time in Afghanistan, and we also had to deal with COVID,” Perrotti said. “I was on night shifts four to five of the nine months in Afghanistan. Altogether I was deployed for 11 months. It was one of the most interesting things I’ve done in my life.”
It also changed his life.
“There are things I notice now that I never did before, and I’m in a different mindset,” Perrotti said. “I look at things differently. There is a lot of planning that goes on, and I take that into account now, school, everyday life. Planning ahead is one of biggest things, and communications … when you’re in that helicopter and the two pilots are up front, and I have my flight engineer, and I’m the crew chief in the back, being a team and communicating is the No. 1 thing.
“It is essential to … make it home; that’s what it boils down to.”
Perrotti is now in his third year at Central and majoring in construction management.
“Xavier gave me the moral and religious background to look back on, to keep the faith,” Perrotti said. “It always stuck with me in the back of my mind overseas … God will take care of me.”