Memories

Memories

Jane Kennah, Former Employee of Maria College — Sister Laureen was always personable and used your first name when greeting you. That meant a lot to me as I worked in the building across the parking lot and didn't have very much interaction with her at all. But she made it her business to know and use your name. I truly admire that quality in her. She will be missed by many.

Peter Byrne, Chair of Liberal Arts & Management, Director of Psychology Program, Professor — Sister hired me in the parking lot. I was getting my PhD at SUNY Albany and was in classes with Ishmael Ramos who was a psychology professor at Maria College. He was leaving the College and he told me to reach out to Sr. Laureen about the position. I came to campus on a spring day and Sister met me in the parking lot. She must have been told to look for the tallest person in the parking lot because she was waiting for me. She took me on a tour through all the buildings. At the end, she asked, “What do you think?” I started to respond, “It’s a beautiful campus…” And she said, “No, you idiot, what do you think about the job?” She really stopped me in my tracks. I can’t even remember how I responded. After I finished my degree, Sister was a huge reason I stayed at Maria College. She made me a nice offer. She knew her assets and highly valued her faculty. She was a champion for the faculty and staff. Everybody looked out for everybody. We were a family.

Barbara Ruslander, Assistant Professor — Each year we would have a half hour appointment with Sr. Laureen to sign our contract. She would start off with asking how my family was doing—very personable. Then she would ask questions like, “How do you think Maria is doing?” or “What could we be doing better as a College?” I also remember her always saying, “I am amazed at our students and what they achieve with all that is going on in their lives.” She loved the students. When my daughter Lindsey was little, she used to come to campus to visit. She liked to walk the hallways and shake the locks on the lockers. Sr. Laureen would come out of her office and say, “I know who’s here. Come on in, we’ll have a chat.”

Anne Devlin, Deputy Chair of Liberal Arts & Management, Assistant Professor — An alumni who was close with Sr. Laureen recently shared with me that she was a model of quiet mercy. She did things for the students that you wouldn’t event know. There was this one time when Sister heard two students talking in the hallway over a conversation of financial concern. The student later went into the business office to pick their check to find out that $1,000 towards her tuition had been paid. There would often be ‘Sr. Laureen sightings’ on campus. She was out and about, visible and present. She had an open-door policy. She would stop what she was doing. She would give the appearance of not doing any work. It always seemed like the conversation you were having with her was the most important thing that she was doing. Sister also had a great sense of humor. We used to have a dinner after graduation where faculty recognition awards would be handed out. After 15 years of service at Maria College you would get a pin with a little diamond in it. I remember Matt (my husband) asking, “Shouldn’t I get a pin for attending these dinners for the past 15 years?” The next year Sister Laureen announced the names of the spouses who had been there 5, 10, 15 years. She was also a businesswoman and a good one. She was constantly out and about building relations with those in the community. I also remember her being called “Sister tight pockets.” She built a very large endowment for the College but was very frugal with what she spent. I remember her telling me once that she wanted enough money saved so if the College went under, she could take care of her teachers for two years. Sister loved her great nieces. They were cute, little red-haired girls that would come for regular visits to campus. She also cared for her Aunt and would often leave campus to visit her. She also loved her bird Buddy and would tell us about his girlfriend Sally (red, plastic, toy phone). I remember getting Christmas cards with Buddy.

Robin DeLorenzo, Director of Information Technology — Sister Laureen was a very strong and private person, She never liked being the center of attention. She knew exactly how to talk with everybody, no matter who they were. She could be stern or very compassionate depending on the situation with either a student, faculty or staff. Sister had an open-door policy and you could talk with her at any point regardless of your position at the college. She had a deep devotion to Maria College and it was hard at times for her to hear of changes she may not agree with and felt were taking Maria away from its Mission. She was very close to her nieces. One of her nieces gave her Buddy, her Cockatiel. Buddy was a member of Sister’s family and it was a reflection of how special you were to Sister Laureen to be asked to take care of Buddy when she went away. She would leave detailed notes on how to care for Buddy including his routine and what songs he was used to hearing being sung by them. Sr. Laureen worked well with all members of Maria Community, the Board of Trustees, Mr. O’Brien and many of the local politicians, everyone always thought very highly of her and her position.