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Griff has been a clinical psychologist working with adults, adolescents, and children for nearly 50 years. Since starting a private practice in 1981, he has developed a specialty in working with children and families. For the last 30+ years, Griff’s passion and involvement with autism spectrum disorders, other neuro-developmental disorders, and the core elements for everyone’s lifelong development have become the thrust of virtually all of his professional endeavors.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College in 1968 and his Ph.D. from Catholic University in 1975. Griff also served as a Navy officer on the USS Mt. McKinley in 1969, primarily in Danang, Vietnam.

What advice would you give to high school students today?
I will try to be concise about a couple of multi-layered issues…

Time well spent in adolescence should include developing capabilities to weather all kinds of personal adversity—the unexpected, uncontrollable kind as well as the troubles that inevitably arise in the lives we have designed. This is a time for you to practice taking on difficulties that we all wish to avoid. Wrestling instead with your anxiety serves to build emotional muscle to face current and future dilemmas. After all, confronting real headaches is scary!

Actually, you may find what is most intimidating is looking at yourself in the mirror. Noticing your own behavior is inescapable, especially for teenagers. So why not turn it into an invaluable asset? For example, you reluctantly admit that you are immediately judgmental about people or perspectives you do not like. Your first negative impression becomes a firm belief, you look no closer, yet sense you made a narrow-minded decision. This is a tough moment. You are apt to be punitive about your closed thinking.  Be humbled, not humiliated, by your shortcomings.

What is your favorite Canterbury memory?
My favorite memory from Canterbury cannot be singled out. I recall the day President Kennedy was assassinated; the entire student body left the school building and walked up the hill in stark silence to the chapel. We knew the president had walked those same steps.

I also remember having the senior terrace as our sacred territory and meeting place for countless laughs, impromptu games, and bogus “fishing” stories.

What Canterbury faculty member had the greatest impact on you?
Jules Viau. He was my dorm supervisor as an underclassman and again when I became one of his proctors. He taught me French for three years and coached me in basketball and tennis. All my classmates still think I was Mr. Viau’s “teacher’s pet.” Actually, he dogged me, insisting I could accomplish more than I thought. Mr. Viau was always firm and respectful while conveying that he expected me to reach higher.

What are you looking forward to most when you return to campus?
Seeing my classmates and hearing about their lives for the last 60 years.

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