Graduation Time at Loyola and the WLA

Graduations have been in high swing here at Loyola University Chicago this past week. There are still a few more to come before the ceremonies wrap up. This is my third May at Loyola and I’ve decided graduation time is one of my favorite things. The campus is full of happy people who appear in waves during times of the morning and afternoon graduations. All over campus there are the graduates in caps and gowns, some carrying flowers. Family members and friends take pictures of the grad by the lake or other iconic locations around campus, by Piper Hall, where the WLA is located. The aura is one of happiness, excitement, and just plain fun. Even during light rain and gray skies that inevitably appears one or two of the days, the mood still feels jubilant, albeit a bit soggy.

What do my warm fuzzy graduation feelings have to do with an archives blog? Good question. First, the WLA holds the records of Mundelein College and, as you might imagine, the collection has many graduation pictures. Some of which are available here: I imagine graduations at Mundelein also had the same sense of accomplishment and happiness. Closing my eyes, I see happy groups of graduates and family members, caps and gowns, and flowers everywhere.

Second, the WLA is staffed by Graduate Assistants (GAs) from Loyola’s Public History Program. The program is two years long and they end up with, hopefully, jobs in the public history field. It’s a lovely time for the graduating GA, although it can be stressful, depending on if there is a job to go to. I’m always happy to see a student succeed, graduate, and move on in a positive way

The flip side is that it is a mixed bag for the WLA and me. The WLA experiences turn-over every year as one or two GAs graduate. I’ve come to know, depend on, and honestly, become quite fond of the graduating GA. In a former position, I also had student staff and am very familiar with the cycle of student workers. They come, they work hard, they graduate, and they leave.

I confess, though, the cycle hasn’t become easier as the years roll on. I’m beginning to think just the opposite. The older I get, the more sentimental I become. Perhaps it’s because I have a child and the years fly by, giving me a heightened sense of time passing. I don’t know, really. All I know is I miss each one who leaves and feel a sense of sadness when I come to work and they are not there.

A friend of mine jokes that this is one of the times the chorus from the song “Sunrise, Sunset” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof comes into the brain! She’s right. While I don’t know the students as children, I get to know them for one or two very formative years. I end up becoming close to each one, hearing about their lives and sometimes their struggles. In addition, I see them succeed, grow, and move on in a positive way.

This year, two WLA GAs graduated on May 5th: Mollie Fullerton and Jenny Pederson. Mollie began as a volunteer and then worked as a GA this last academic year. Jenny’s been with the WLA two years as a GA. Both will be sorely missed: Jenny for her great good humor and kindness; and Mollie for her sensitive ability to see truth in situations. Both are creative and intelligent with wonderful senses of humor. I wish them both all the luck and good fortune in the future.

WLA graduate students Jenny  and Mollie photographed in Piper Hall, 1st. Floor.  Photo taken by GA Caroline, who graduates in May 2016.

Jenny and MollieR


Nancy became Director of the WLA in spring, 2013. Prior to that, Nancy was an archivist and records manager at a wildlife research facility for the USDA in Colorado. Nancy has worked in the archival field since 1999. When not at the WLA, Nancy enjoys spending time with her family and knitting.

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About Women and Leadership Archives

Established in 1994, the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) collects, preserves, and makes available permanently valuable records of women and women’s organizations, which document women’s lives, roles, and contributions. The WLA grew out of the need to care for the records of Mundelein College and expanded to collect papers of women leaders and women’s organizations. Collection strengths include the subject areas of activism and women’s issues; authors; education; environmental issues; public service; social justice; women religious; and the fine, performance, and visual arts. The WLA is part of the Gannon Center and Loyola University Libraries and serves a wide variety of users, ranging from students and scholars to the general public. The WLA makes records available at the Archives in Loyola’s Piper Hall, offers remote reference services, presents programs, and provides online resources. Staff include a Director, Assistant Archivist, and graduate assistants from Loyola’s Public History Program.

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