Campus Mourns the Death of Recent Graduate

June 26th, 2006 by Adam

The Plymouth State University campus is mourning the loss of Christopher Michael Barrett, a member of the Class of 2006, who died on June 16 from heart failure due to a longstanding health condition. Barrett, 24, the son of David and Debra Phaneuf and Thomas K. Barrett, was a resident of Bartlett, N.H., and a graduate of Kennett High School. At PSU, he was a devoted student who was remembered for his passion for teaching and learning.
Barrett, who graduated cum laude from PSU in May, had a major in social science and a minor in math. He held an outstanding academic record, and was regularly named to the Dean’s List and President’s List throughout his college career. Barrett was also an employee at Hannaford supermarket in Plymouth, balancing demands from his academic and personal life while sometimes working a full-time schedule.

Barrett completed his student teaching internship at Winnisquam Middle School in Tilton this spring and was delighted to begin a future career in teaching. Barrett loved the outdoors, and spent many summers at his family’s camp on Pequawket Pond in Brownfield, Maine, where he enjoyed canoeing and kayaking with his brother, stepfather and uncle.

PSU faculty, staff and students remembered Barrett as a cheerful, kind and friendly student. Barrett was a regular fixture at Tau Omega, the sorority where his fiancée, Mandie Clark, was a member. Education Professor Michael Fischler, advisor for the sorority, remembers spending time with fellow-Miami Dolphin fan Barrett.

“He was a source of support and comfort as we would sympathize together over the fate of our dismal team,” said Fischler.

Social Science Professor Patrick May, Barrett’s advisor, recalled Barrett as a motivated, talented student who had a passion for education, a great sense of humor and a variety of interests.

“I could always count on a visit from Chris at least once a semester that included a fully-developed plan to somehow cram more courses into an already full schedule. He was always trying to fulfill his interests in math, history, economics, political science, anthropology and assorted business courses through some complicated combination of majors, minors and options. While this made scheduling a challenge, and became a bit of an ongoing joke between us, I always admired Chris’s love for learning and his ability to try to do it all in a limited amount of time,” said May.

Barrett’s student teaching experience this spring brought out his dedication to education even more. Before graduating, Barrett sent an e-mail to May, expressing his fondness for teaching and spending time with students.
“The kids keep me energized about history, and I try to make it fun and tangible for them,” wrote Barrett. “My experience here was truly a growing one, and I learned how much I didn’t know.”

May admired Barrett’s recognition that learning is truly a lifelong process: “What more could we possibly want from our students and graduates?” he said.

A teaching scholarship is being established in memory of Christopher Barrett to honor his love of education. Donations can be sent to:

Christopher Barrett Scholarship,
c/o RE/MAX Presidential,
PO Box 1350,
Conway NH 03818.

Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.