Buccino leadership students at the Survivor Tree
On October 28th, the Buccino Leadership Institute took 100 freshmen and sophomore leadership students to visit the National September 11th Museum and Memorial in New York City.
The interdisciplinary group of students represents 34 different majors at Seton Hall, and Dr. Bryan Price, executive director of the Buccino Leadership Institute, said the visit fits perfectly into the program's four-year curriculum.
"The first year of our program is themed 'leading yourself.' I can think of no better place than this hallowed ground to reflect on what kind of life you want to live and what kind of leader you want to be."
Price, who first toured the museum when it was still a construction site back in 2013 as the director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, has been bringing cadets, Army officers, leadership students from Seton Hall to visit the museum and memorial ever since.
Students at the National September 11th Museum
Price added, "It's a one-of-a-kind experience that speaks to us at the human level. It doesn't matter what profession you want to go into, what academic major you study, or what your politics are. It's a visceral experience that leaves people changed after they visit."
For Olivia Kreider, a freshmen from the College of Nursing, the trip was of personal importance. "My uncle was in the Pentagon on 9/11 when the plane hit," Kreider said, "and I remember growing up knowing that fact but not really understanding it. When I went to the 9/11 museum, I was shown so much more than what I heard about it as a child. The trip to the museum is a day I will never forget."
To start their visit, Price split the students into 14 groups to locate the 14 victims that had Seton Hall affiliations among the 2,977 names on the panels that surround the two reflecting pools. Students are tasked with locating each name, taking a picture with their group at that panel, and researching that individual. All students then linked up and shared something special about each Seton Hall victim with the group.
Bill Spade '81, the lone survivor from Rescue 5
Next, students went into the museum’s auditorium for a private session with Bill Spade from Seton Hall's Class of 1981. Spade is a docent for the museum and serendipitously ran into the first group of Seton Hall leadership students visiting back in 2019. He's been talking to Price's leadership students ever since.
Spade’s story is heartbreaking but riveting. He is the only survivor from Rescue 5, Staten Island’s only rescue squad. Spade was on dispatch duty after the squad was called out on a routine gas leak earlier on the morning of 9/11. When he received the call about the Twin Towers being hit, Spade went down to the World Trade Center to meet up with his squad. While he never linked up with them on site, Spade teamed up with other first responders to lead people out of the towers. He barely survived the second tower falling and was hospitalized for three days. It was in the hospital that Spade learned he was the only survivor.
Spade's story had a personal impact on Maggie Iannella, a freshmen from Point Pleasant, NJ, who is studying nursing. "Hearing Bill Spade tell his story was truly an eye-opening experience. I've heard survivor’s stories secondhand and in articles, but I've never had the opportunity to hear a survivor story first-hand like that before. Spade's story was extra special to me and really hit home because my dad is a firefighter as well."
After hearing several inspirational leadership stories from Rauch and Spade's emotional tribute, students then toured the museum for the remainder of the day before heading back to Seton Hall.
"It’s a day they will never forget," said Price. "My hope is that they use what they learned here to become the leaders they want to be led by."