“Culture shock” is how Mike Cusortelli ’75 describes his first impressions of O’Dowd. “I came from a public school and for the first time in my life, I was encouraged to excel academically. Mediocrity and ‘just getting by’ weren’t accepted,” he said.
Mike learned this the hard way when journalism teacher Randy Kinavey ’68 sent home a mid-term unsatisfactory progress report to his parents. “That shocked me, because I wasn’t failing his class and had thought I was doing quite well. When I told him this, he said, ‘Yes, you are doing well, but you’re not doing as well as you could be doing.’ And he was correct. I was, to borrow a contemporary phrase, ‘mailing it in’,” he recalled.
Mike eventually earned an A grade in the class and also served as sports editor of The Crozier, O’Dowd’s student newspaper which was moderated by Kinavey at the time.
Kinavey became a mentor, encouraging Mike during his senior year at O’Dowd to apply for an entry level sports writing positions at the local newspapers, and he was hired at the Fremont Argus. He’s had a rewarding career that has included working as a publicity writer for Portland Meadows Race Track, serving as racing information coordinator for the American Quarter Horse Association, working various positions at Bank of America that involved writing, and currently as a media consultant for several horse racing industry companies.
Fond high school memories inspired Mike to name O’Dowd as one of the beneficiaries of his 401K plan.
“I had a profoundly positive experience there, one that I still think about today. Every time I see a Facebook post from O’Dowd or read through the Dragon magazine I am reminded of it,” he said.
“I get the impression that the same commitment to excellence is instilled in students as was instilled in us. I see the academic honors and athletic honors earned by today’s students, as well as the commitment to community service, and it still inspires me to this day. I also see that most, if not all, current O’Dowd graduates go on to a college or university,” Mike said.
“I’m hoping that I can help a young person who is filled with curiosity about the world and values intellectual development to get a good education and have the same positive experience that I did. I want to help young people develop themselves and reach their potentials without being concerned about money,” he continued
Mike hopes to encourage others to think of including O’Dowd in their estate plans. “If you had as positive an experience as I did, do it. Your generosity will have a lasting impact on the world for years to come,” he said.