St. Dominic grad honored for faith, service, academic achievement
Dr. Jeffrey Larkin has been named as the 2019 “Distinguished Graduate” of St. Dominic School in Garden City.
The following is from a presentation by Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Trina Delgado, at the opening Mass for Catholic Schools Week.
“When asked for his definition of ‘Hero’ our distinguished graduate replied:”
“Hero can mean very different things for everyone, but I’ve always thought of a hero as someone who is generous, humble and able to accomplish something extraordinary in relation to what they are given or born with. Mother Theresa is a great example.
“But on a personal note, while I was stationed in South Korea I was missing the camaraderie and fellowship of an active Catholic parish until I made an effort to get involved in the Church on base. As it turned out, the chaplain for the Medical Group was a Catholic priest who was from Vietnam (which made me think of Garden City) and spoke six or seven languages, including Korean.
“Right away I could tell Father Nguyen was fun and engaging for people of all ages on and off base, and he was also very involved with local Korean Catholic parishes. He inspired me to stay very involved and I even got my second and third degrees in Knights of Columbus while there.
“As I got to know him further, I found out that, while being paid well as a military officer, he more than kept his vow of poverty by sending a large majority of his salary home to his family in Vietnam. The amount of people he touched, lives he influenced, and his ongoing accomplishments while remaining very humble absolutely make him a hero in my eyes.”
Delgado told those gathered, “Our graduate of honor attended St. Dominic School from 1990-1995. These were the years prior to St. Dominic having a kindergarten or a 6th grade. He graduated from GCHS in 2002, and from the University of Kansas in 2006 with a degree in Microbiology.
“[Dr. Larkin] accepted a Health Professions Scholarship for dental school and in March of that year he was sworn in at Whiteman AFB, in Missouri. He was pinned as Captain in May 2010 at the dental school graduation ceremony with nine other classmates (out of 100 in the class), all going into the Army, Navy or Air Force.
“[Dr. Larkin] started active duty in the U.S. Air Force in July 2010, spending one year at Offutt AFB, Nebraska for his General Dentistry Residency. He was then placed for one year at Osan Air Base, South Korea, completing his Squadron Officer School there. This is the captain’s rank level professional military education.
“Our honoree completed two years of training as an irregular warfare medic at Hurlburt Field, (Fort Walton Beach) Florida, and then transferred from active duty to Kansas Air National Guard, August, 2014, and presently holds the position of dentist for the 190th Air Refueling Wing at Forbes Field, Topeka. He was pinned with the rank of Major in July 2016.
“When asked of special memories of St. Dominic School, Dr.Larkin responded:”
“It would be impossible to pick a favorite teacher, but Mrs. Geier, Mrs. Pishny, and Mrs. Deal all had a great impact on my educational trajectory and in life.
“There is no doubt that everyone’s foundation for future success begins in elementary school, and St. Dominic is no exception. I have very fond memories of ‘touch’ football and soccer matches at recess, ‘water day’ on the last day of school (especially the egg toss and water balloons in the huge parachute), the old gym/cafeteria for the Christmas pageant, and winning the spelling bee in 3rd grade. And most importantly, the friends I made at St. Dominic were some of my closest friends all through school.”
“I asked our recipient what part did his Catholic education play in helping him become the success he is today:”
“I received my 1st degree as a Knight of Columbus here at St. Dominic, and that has been a big part of my life through my Catholic parishes in Omaha, South Korea, Florida, Kansas City and now Lawrence at Corpus Christi. Finding something to be a part of from a charitable sense is very important at all stages in life. I don’t know who originally said it, but the quote, ‘To those who have been given much, much is expected’ started at an early age for my brothers and I right here at St. Dominic when we would adopt a family off of the ‘giving tree’ leading up to Christmas every year and buy those presents with our own money from doing chores.
“Catholic schools do a fantastic job of instilling altruism (or selflessness) and a charitable mindset from an early age, and the importance of this cannot be over-stated.”
“Today,” Delgado said, “Dr. Larkin is married to—and I quote—an ‘incredible mother and physician assistant at St. Luke’s in Kansas City’; the father of a two-year-old daughter named Kate (and he states, ‘Well-deserved for my mom after raising four boys!’), and has baby number two on the way, due in July! He has dental offices in Lawrence and Topeka, and is lucky enough to not only have a fantastic dental partner but is able to practice with his Dad as well.
“It’s funny how distinguished graduates come from distinguished families that take that role of parent hero seriously,” Delgado said. “It is our honor today to recognize a very distinguished graduate. He is no ordinary hero.”