I had three bosses, Linda, Margee and Jeannette, along with their assistant Mary Jo, and immediately saw this was an office that was both serious about their work and hilariously funny all at the same time.

archived photo of jeannete bryson laughing with other women.

It was a crisp winter day with a little bit of snow on the ground as I pulled into the Mount’s West Lot, nervous with anticipation. Not your typical first day of school, but my first day. I took a deep breath, made my way across campus, and rounding a corner caught site of the bell tower up ahead. It was a comforting sight that took me back 30 years to a feeling of home. And it was with this feeling that I started my first day of a “grown-up job” at the Mount, decades after leaving there as a graduate.

In late 1992, I was a junior Communication Arts major, unsure of life and completely unsure of what career that major would lead me into. I just knew that I loved to write, seemed to have some talent for it, and had been blessed to have some incredible professors who had taken the time to guide me and mold me. My favorite professor Buffy Barkley suggested a co-op position in the Mount’s Public Information Office, where I would be writing press releases and articles for some of their publications. This sounded like great preparation as well as great fun to be able to have a job on my own college campus.

After successfully applying, I started my co-op job in January 1993 on probably a similar crisp winter day to the one 30 years later, passed that same bell tower to my office, but from my dorm room in the opposite direction. I’m sure I was nervous and excited and a bit overwhelmed, but the only thing that sticks with me about that first day was the wonderful people that I met. 

I had three bosses, Linda, Margee and Jeannette, along with their assistant Mary Jo, and immediately saw this was an office that was both serious about their work and hilariously funny all at the same time.  These ladies became like young aunts to me, not only guiding me in my writing, but asking me about my classes, listening to my trials in love and friendship, and giving me professional advice. 

They were all part of the nurturing environment at the Mount that I had experienced since freshman year, really since the first “Get Acquainted Day” that convinced me to enroll. And they were a key part of my “launching” into my post college world.

I was especially close to Jeannette, so much so that we stayed friends long after graduation, and years later I immediately found her on Facebook when it first became a thing. She was the pickiest editor that I’ve ever known to date, unforgiving but kind in a way that stayed with me for all my years, whether I was writing professionally, volunteering with the PTA, or editing my kids’ essays.

But the most rememberable thing about Jeannette was her laugh. In the midst of any conversation there would be that contagious laugh, with her head thrown back, and then a snort. As we stayed in touch over the years, I got to know how many lives she touched with that joy for life.  

My post -college life took many twists and turns professionally and personally. I was a student leadership program administrator, development director for a Catholic school, communications director for my kids’ PTA, and billing and marketing manager for a psychology practice. No matter where I was, though, writing was always an important part.

But the loves of my life are my three children. In the fall of 2012 I found myself in a time of transition with them as their father and I began the process of divorce. My most recent position had been working for his business, and even before that I had worked from home since my oldest was born, so I needed to set out in finding work that could support us and, just as important at that time, made me feel valid.

Knowing that Mount alums have lifelong career services at the school, I scheduled an appointment to sit down with an adviser who could make suggestions, and then messaged Jeannette to see if we could have lunch while I was on campus. It was during that lunch when I learned that the office where she worked (now Institutional Advancement) had an open position overseeing alumni relations. After making it through the interview process, I now found myself in the winter of 2013 on this exciting first day of work.

Linda was still there as well, and now my bosses became my peers and friends. Here we were 30 years later sharing stories about kids and life. Jeannette was still the same exuberant person she had been when I was her co-op. She listened and made me laugh on my harder days through the changes going on in my life, and would stand outside my office while she waited for her coffee, singing loudly “Jenny, Jenny … how was your weekend?”

My return to the Mount was as nurturing for this new transition in my life as it had been the first time. The familiar people and surroundings were comforting and healing. And eventually it became a “relaunching” into a post-Mount world for me. I was offered a position using previous experience to work as director of marketing and operations for a billing company, and said goodbye as a coworker, but not as a friend.

A few years after my departure, Jeannette passed away suddenly. This was a hard blow for all who knew her, both within the Mount community and beyond. The world lost a beautiful spirit that day, and I lost a lifelong friend. She left behind twin sons and a husband who adored her.

I will forever be grateful for the time that I had with her, and for both times that the Mount was like home to me, decades apart, fueling me and bringing joy into my life.

Jenny worked on Dateline as a writer and copy editor until she graduated in 1994. She is COO at Stuart Medical Services.

Photo:  Jenny, Margee Garbsch, Linda Liebau and the always hilarious Jeannette Bryson.