Living Out a Legacy of Love
Maureen (Grady) Wilkinson G '90
When she was a student at Portsmouth High, Maureen (Grady) Wilkinson ’90 decided to take advantage of the school’s offer of a day off for students visiting colleges. With few expectations, she attended a local college fair and instead of just enjoying a day away from school, Maureen found her life’s destiny.
Anna Maria College was the first display at the fair; and once she saw the brochures and chatted with staff, Maureen’s college search was over. “It just felt right,” comments Maureen. “I knew then and there that AMC had something special and I wanted to be a part of it.”
AMC turned out to be exactly what Maureen wanted for her college experience. From the admissions process through her years as an undergrad, AMC’s small, personal community was just what she needed. “I went to a large high school and was tired of the cliques and impersonal atmosphere of a large community,” shares Maureen. “Anna Maria was the change I was seeking, and over the years I have found that it set the stage for me to be successful in life.”
Maureen entered AMC as a finance major and quickly realized that she enjoyed being a big fish in a small sea. “You didn’t have to struggle to feel connected or participate in activities,” she explains. “The AMC culture allowed you to be whoever you wanted to be.” For Maureen this meant that she was able to play softball and basketball while belonging to the business club and serving as a resident assistant and tutor.
Maureen excelled both in and out of the classroom and enjoys recounting the story about her first exam at AMC. It was for one of Dr. Paul Russell’s history classes. After studying hard for days, Maureen decided to sleep on her books the night before the test so that she could gain extra knowledge through osmosis. She aced the exam and ended up sleeping on her books the night before the rest of her exams at AMC.
While her memories of Dr. Russell’s class and co-curricular activities are wonderful, Maureen’s fondest remembrance of AMC is the time she spent with Sr. John.
Maureen first met Sr. John when she was a student in Professor Louise Soldani’s English class. Like most finance majors, Maureen had avoided taking Sr. John’s English class because of her reputation for being tough. However, when Professor Soldani took a brief leave from the College, Maureen found herself being taught by Sr. John. “I must admit that I was a little intimidated at first,” quips Maureen. “However, I studied hard, ended up doing well in the class, and added English literature as a minor to my degree.”
Sr. John and Maureen’s next encounter came during the summer between Maureen’s freshman and sophomore year when she lived on campus to help prepare for orientation. It was during this time that the two of them could be found dialoguing in the dining hall, discussing everything from the weather to the mysteries of life. “Sr. John was always challenging me, trying to get me to think outside the box,” shares Maureen. “We developed a very strong spiritual bond: one that will remain with me for the rest of my life.”
Although Sr. John is no longer a part of this life, Maureen remains connected to her spiritually. A successful businesswoman who has served as a CEO for three national credit unions, Maureen was deeply touched by Sr. John. Sister taught her to look beyond the material world and understand that service to others is the true sign of a successful life.
Maureen treasures the fact that she was able to be with Sr. John during her last day on earth. “Sr. John once said that her most precious reward as a teacher was to send out students with an open and curious mind, the ability to direct their own lives, and, in turn, dedicated to teaching others,” shares Maureen. “I learned so much from her and I will forever strive to follow in her footsteps.”
In her new position with HarborOne, Maureen tries to live out Sr. John’s legacy each day. “I have found pleasure and fulfillment in what I call ‘psychic income’,” explains Maureen. “I have transitioned from CEO to coach and mentor, helping my staff to excel and build their own skills. This has become one of the greatest joys in my life,” she adds.
In memory of Sr. John, Maureen has made a donation to the Sr. John Scholarship at AMC. She shares, “I hope that I can set an example for other AMC alumni to give back to the institution that touched all of our lives in so many ways.”
Maureen has made a multi-year financial commitment to the Sr. John Scholarship and will match all new gifts, dollar for dollar, made to the Scholarship fund during the 2009/10 fiscal year.