Rachel Roy, a native of Lewiston, Maine, has covered a lot of territory at Plymouth State University since she first came to Plymouth as a student in 1982. While her major was physical education and her minor was psychology, it wasn’t those subjects that kept her at Plymouth after graduation. She stayed because of the hourly work she had done as laborer and painter during her undergraduate years—and after 20 years, she’s “covered” most of the campus. This week Roy was selected by her PSU colleagues as the Distinguished Operating Staff member for 2006.
In presenting the award, PSU President Don Wharton put his praise succinctly. He said, “This honoree wields a most wicked paint brush!”
“I had the good fortune to work with Max Dame, the head painter, while I was a student, and he took the time to teach me the trade. It has served me well all these years,” says the honoree.
Roy is known on campus for more than her eye for color and attention to detail, however. She has been active in staff governance, serving as speaker of the Operating Staff Senate in 1995-96, on many committees, and as a volunteer in the community for projects such as Habitat for Humanity. Chris Finefrock, former Pemi-Valley Habitat president said, “Her desire to help others, patience when working with those who are less skilled, and devotion to whatever project she is on are just a few of the qualities that make Rachel very special and worthy of this honor.”
But it is working with students, whether as student laborers or as student athletes, that Roy considers she has made her best contribution. She describes the year that Hall Residence Hall was being retrofitted and a painting crew of 12 people, including many students, was required to finish off the project. “We had to paint all the mullions between the panes and every sash on every window. That was an experience for the kids,” she remembers. “I have the patience to work with students, and I know I am teaching them a skill that can help sustain them at various points in their lives, if need be.”
In athletics, Roy was assistant softball coach for nine years under three different head coaches. Now she is assistant coach of the new women’s hockey team which began as a club sport on campus three years ago. Roy says one of the highlights of her Plymouth years was the announcement this spring of varsity status for the team.
Women’s’ hockey coach Mark Wojcinski says, “Not receiving one ounce of monetary compensation, Rachel is motivated by the passion for the game and by the positive influence she radiates to everyone she is involved with. Rachel goes to bed late and gets up early. In order to do two jobs, there is really no other choice. The trickiest part of all this is that the two never interfere with each other. She takes pride in her work—both of her jobs. Rachel represents the school with pride whenever and wherever she can.”
Roy attributes her ability to take advantage of such opportunities to encouragement at PSU, and cooperation with managers and supervisors over the years who have collaborated on the schedule that let’s her utilize her leave time to travel to games. That same kind of encouragement and cooperation allowed her to utilize three months of medical leave during the winter of 2005, when she donated a kidney to an aunt who was on dialysis. She says, “Perhaps it’s something I was put on this earth to do. I was healthy and my aunt was not … and I was a good match. If I didn’t work at the University, and have access to medical and leave coverage, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do this, and my aunt probably wouldn’t be doing so well. That makes us both lucky.”
Also nominated for the award and honored at the presentation ceremony were: Steve Sweedler (physical plant), Tamara Cocchiarella (student affairs), Roberta Mayhew (physical plant), Kathy Melanson (social sciences), Brenda Gleich (education), Mary Washburn (psychology and philosophy), Gail Eddleston (office of the president), Janice Johnson (music, theatre, and dance), Joan Bergstrom (Frost school), Wendy Burnham (mathematics), Tamara Mahoney (business office), Richard Bruce (campus services), Joye Foote (human resources), Terri Johnson (counseling center), Daphne Morin (Lamson Library) and Kathi Weeks (bursar’s office).
Criteria for the award include comprehensive job knowledge, leadership qualities in campus and community activities, willing support of all campus constituents and of the University mission, respect for all, fairness and integrity.