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College welcomes alumna as Holy Cross Hall director

| Thursday, August 24, 2017

When Elizabeth Palmer graduated Saint Mary’s in 2013, she knew she wanted to return to the College some day. This year, she will do just that when she becomes the hall director for Holy Cross Hall.

Palmer graduated in 2013 with degrees in biology and psychology. Though she took some time away from the college, Palmer has worked at the College before as a lab instructor and as an assistant lacrosse coach..

“My dream has always been to come back to Saint Mary’s,” she said. “Saint Mary’s is my favorite place in the world.”

Palmer said she feels her education and experiences will make her a good fit for her job as hall director.

“I’m pursuing a master of divinity and through that I feel like I can meet people where they are and encounter others and experience diversity,” she said. “So I thought this specific job was a great way to come back and be somewhere I love, while encountering the community and being in solidarity with students by living in the dorm.”

Palmer said her first duty as hall director is to establish herself as a resource for students who want to talk with someone who can empathize with them.

“The most profound and significant piece of the job is just being a resource for students on campus and being a place where students can come to,” she said. “Whether they’re struggling or succeeding, I can be a support to them. When I was here as a student, I wasn’t a person who sought out their hall director. I want to become a resource because I’m living here on campus too. I get what [students] are experiencing so we can talk about life.”

Palmer said her duties include cultivating an engaging and welcoming environment for residents, as well as providing opportunities for growth and development among resident advisors.

“This place is home and how do you cultivate home? By making sure everyone is experiencing home in a unique way that is a good fit for them,” she said. “We also help with the growth and development of the RAs. We have weekly meetings with them and also one-on-one meetings.”

Palmer said she is excited to immerse herself in a part of Saint Mary’s campus and history she has not previously experienced.

“I lived in Regina for two years and then Le Mans for two years, so I never lived in Holy Cross Hall when I went here,” she said. “Getting to return and live in a completely new building has allowed me to embrace the history of the College more, since [Holy Cross Hall] is the oldest building on campus. I’m a history buff when it comes to Saint Mary’s. I love the history of this place and love being close to the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Coming back, I’ve really understood the mission of the College more as an alumna and I understand the Sisters’ impact. I get to live out the mission in a new way.”

Palmer said through her job as hall director, she will work alongside her previous mentors, and this is one of her greatest blessings.

“It’s such a gift and a blessing because the same people who allowed me to grow as a person and develop as a person are still empowering me,” she said. “It is the greatest gift to be around this community that has supported me since I was eighteen, and now to come back at twenty-six and have them still supporting me is amazing.”

Palmer said although she wants to be seen as a friendly face among residents, faculty and students, she still wants to create a professional environment.

“I think coming back, I definitely want to establish myself as a professional because it is weird, being a student then coming back to work here,” she said. “I feel Saint Mary’s is going to help me learn how to be a professional and help me see what that looks like.”

Palmer said she wants Saint Mary’s students to know that the spirit of the College follows students, even after graduation.

“As an alumna, something I would tell students is, you think Saint Mary’s is the best four years of your life, and the most beautiful thing is that Saint Mary’s doesn’t end after four years,” she said. “Even after being away from South Bend — I’ve been in graduate school for the past two years and have travelled and seen many different parts of the world — I still feel like Saint Mary’s is apart of me no matter where I am. Saint Mary’s transcends the community and transcends the borders of South Bend.”

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

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