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Liam Kearney: Discoveries from “Long Sprawling Conversations” on Campus

It was the conversations that enriched Liam Kearney’s time as an Liam Kearny on his graduation undergraduate student at Caldwell University—conversations inside and especially outside the classroom with other students. “You have a responsibility to take what you learn in class and test it outside,” said Kearney, who graduated May 19 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration and a minor in communication and media studies.

Caldwell’s beautiful 70-acre campus provided many places “to nab at the end of the day” to have meaningful conversations. “What astonishes me is how quickly people will talk about what they are passionate about—in five minutes—if you are genuinely interested in them,” said Kearney. At the core, a meaningful exchange is something people are looking for, he contends, even if they do not know it. The “modern truth-seeking platforms we use, like social media, prioritize conflict and polarization over healthy dialogue,” he said. Most people, Kearney said, are interested in a wide range of things. “If you meet them well, they are willing to talk about their interests for a long time.” Those “long sprawling conversations,” he said, can become messy, but there are opportunities to find common ground and they can bear fruit.

Liam Kearney receives his degree from his great aunt, Sister Mary John Kearney

Liam Kearney received his degree from his great aunt, Sister Mary John Kearney, O.P., professor emerita at Caldwell University.

Kearney also appreciated the dialogue in the business classes and how the “practical” was applied by the faculty members who had a wealth of experience in business or law. “I could trust what they would say,” said Kearney. “We would take abstract ideas and apply them to something concrete; there was more utility to it.”

He grew up in Oceanport, New Jersey, and came to Caldwell with credits from AP and from a partnership he took part in between his high school, Marine Academy and Science and Technology, and a nearby college. He will continue at Caldwell in the fall, studying for his MBA and aiming to finish the combined degrees in four years.

His interest in learning about people’s lives extends to his talents in music as a singer, composer and musical artist. Music is a vehicle for interaction and communication and he enjoyed when a group of university students would get together to jam, play their instruments and sing. “I would typically be the facilitator, making sure everyone was getting along. You have to give it structure.”

This past year, Kearney attended the Spirituality and Leadership Institute retreat in the Poconos, which focuses on developing young citizens who promote public justice and seek the common good. Again, it was the conversations that were fascinating. “I wish I had found the program earlier,” he said. In his senior year, he took the spring break study abroad course, “Vienna-Experiencing Austrian History and Art”. This coming fall, he will serve as treasurer of the business honor society Delta Mu Delta.

Seeking out the interests of others came from growing up with “a great family structure” that taught him “what you don’t know is always more important than what you know.”

That sentiment, Kearney admits, is “not a normal resting space” for humans and requires “a muscle that has not been flexed” but is certainly one worth discovering. He invites other students to look closely for the truth, beauty, and discoveries that can arise from simply engaging in a conversation with another member of Caldwell’s campus. “Don’t have contempt for the small opportunity. It can quickly grow into an experience which is deeply and unexpectedly meaningful.”