Alumni Spotlight

Darie Conners Lapp ’67

Practice Manager

Hunter-Hopkins Center

What led you to Maria College?
A small affordable college just around the corner from Mercy High School and I knew some of the Sisters. I knew they would support me.

What did you study here?
Associate in Applied Sciences.

What do you remember most vividly about your time at Maria College?
Before classes even began the entire school met for an outing at a lake, I believe it was Saratoga Lake, where we began our college adventure and got acquainted with the upper classmen as well as instructors. The outing provided a wonderful means of reducing anxieties of beginning college and feeling you had some new friends.

Seeing the college grow with the building of a new wing for classes with cutting edge design and modern equipment. We actually got brand new IBM Selectric typewriters!

The knee-high sock committee—a small group of women who presented their arguments to wear to school knee-high socks. Stockings were expensive (there were no pantyhose) and Albany winters are darn cold!

The ring ceremony. A special day of recognition that you were nearly ready to go out into the world and represent your college. I was so disappointed when my ring was stolen but still have the memories of that day.

How did Maria prepare you for your next step?
How to think and problem solve, to believe in myself, and to never stop trying.

Without Maria College I would not have gotten a job at the Albany Medical College, met my future husband, nor eventually gotten my BFA from the University of North Carolina.

It was because of the training and education I received at Maria that I was able to obtain the job at the medical college. They saw me as better qualified than most applicants. Maria’s reputation was growing, and local businesses appreciated the education of the well-educated Maria College graduate. The degree meant something to the business world and continues to do so.

What would you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
MedAssist – Dispensing Hope for the Uninsured

I developed this program for the Mecklenburg Medical Society and Alliance beginning with a $55,000 grant and raising more than ¾ of a million dollars to launch the program for the county. It has continued on to become the model free pharmacy for the State of North Carolina. They now have a budget of $12 million annually and dispense over $30 million of free medications each year.

I am so very proud of this work for it helps so many others. I truly did something well and meaningful.

What piece of advice would you give to current Maria students?
Never stop learning and growing! Commencement means a beginning or start yet so many graduates see it as the end. At my graduation from Mercy High School our commencement speaker, an “old man” to our graduates’ eyes, spoke on the meaning of commencement. I was prepared to be bored out of my mind but found myself truly connected to his message that day. He defined commencement for us and went on to say he hoped his message would reach at least one person before him as a lifetime commitment—to never stop learning. It does not have to be formal education in a classroom. Life is your classroom if you will allow it. I decided right then and there that I would take up that challenge and see where it would lead me. Little did I believe at that moment that I would carry that challenge throughout my life.

Take stock of yourself at least once a year. What have you learned, accomplished, done for others, given to your community and church? Small steps DO build up and step by step you will build your legacy. Education has so many forms. You marry—what have you learned about relationships and commitment? You have children—what have you learned in rearing children and, more importantly, what have you taught them? Your career—what has it lead to beyond money or title? What hobbies or leisure time activities have you done that have lead you to bigger things, taught you new skills, given you the ability to serve others?

For me the quest for knowledge has given me so much more than I had ever anticipated. It has given me a zest for life and kept me always looking forward.

When I began at Maria it was with the first step of applying, taking a chance that I would be accepted, and I would see where that took me. It has taken me far and above my wildest dreams.

If employed what is your current position?
Practice Manager for Hunter-Hopkins Center, an internationally recognized center for the diagnosis and management of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. (www.drlapp.com)

Please share any hobbies and/or interests.
Jewelry Design: more than a hobby for me, I plan to develop this as a business.
I have earned Level 3 Certifications in Metal Clay (Metal Clay is a clay infused with precious metal that can be formed into jewelry) and am working towards a Masters in Metal Clay (an International Certification), have instructed beginning students in this medium and will be an assistant instructor for various beginner level metalwork classes at the Bead and Button Show in Milwaukee.

Other interests include: swimming (entered in the Senior Games later this spring), photography, reading and geocaching (an international sport of treasure-hunting using gps coordinates to locate cleverly hidden caches “treasure boxes” placed around the world). By-the-way, I could not locate a cache on your campus.

Alumni Spotlight

Kristen J. Walton ’12, MSN, APRN FNP-BC

Family Nurse Practitioner

Midstate Medical Center

Noreen DeWire Grimmick ’71

Disability Claims Nurse

Darie Conners Lapp ’67

Practice Manager

Hunter-Hopkins Center