On April 25, 2019, the Lomza State University of Applied Sciences organized a tree-planting ceremony in memory of Michael S. Gilmor (1995-2018), Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Poland (2017-18). Michael had an unusual gift to win hearts with his charming personality, his kindness and sincere smile. His untimely death caused by aortic aneurism at his home in Huntington, NY on August 25, 2018 shook our whole community to our core. The ceremony took place in Łomża, on the grounds of Michael’s host institution, the Lomza State University of Applied Sciences.
Among the invited guests who participated in the ceremony were Frank Finver, U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Counselor, Justyna Janiszewska, Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission Executive Director, representatives of the Lomza State University of Applied Sciences including Rector dr hab. Dariusz Surowik, Jolanta Święszkowska and Marta Trojanowska, as well as professors and students who had a chance to meet Michael in person. In their official remarks, the speakers honored Michael’s memory and his involvement in educating Polish youth. Violin performance by students accompanied the tree-planting ceremony.
Michael Gilmor graduated summa cum laude from Providence College (2017) where he majored in biochemistry and was a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program. Having been awarded the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship during his senior year, Michael embarked on his journey to Poland right after graduation. He selected Poland because it welcomes teaching assistants with science backgrounds and because his great-grandparents were born here.
As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Poland, Michael taught English as a second language at Lomza State University of Applied Sciences, as well as shared his knowledge of American culture by organizing activities and lessons in public schools across Poland. Michael particularly enjoyed working with Polish youth in remote areas of the country, volunteering his time outside of the University teaching schedule to ensure as many students as possible had an opportunity to learn from an American grantee. He encouraged inclusivity during his hands-on lessons, and encouraged his students to follow their dreams. Michael lived by the principles of teaching through experience and stories, through laughter and fun, and through service. People who knew Michael describe him as someone who always had a smile on his face. He was energetic, passionate about teaching, and had a unique ability to cherish every moment without taking a single day for granted.
The oak planted in Łomża with engraved placard that bears Michael’s name is a symbolic gesture, which hopes to ensure that Michael’s legacy lives on.