Laura Myers-Paligo '80
Following the 2010 Commencement rehearsal, I was sitting at a picnic table on the lawn at the Mansion, chatting with an alumna whom I had just met. She pointed up to a window on the third floor. "That was my room," she said. Laura Myers-Paligo '80 began to describe the novelty, fun and challenges of being a student at SVC in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Born and raised in Clinton, MD, Laura first learned about Southern Vermont College from a newsletter. She was intrigued that a degree in Environmental Management and Human Services was offered. It was exactly the combination she was looking for, and she was sold.
Upon arrival, she found her decision confirmed. "It was great fun," she said, "but even more important, I felt like I belonged here." Returning to the topic of her room on the Mansion's third floor, she reported, "If you didn't come to class, your instructors would come up and check on you. You couldn't get away with much, but it made you feel like somebody cared."
Other housing arrangements didn't work out quite so well. An apartment she shared on South Stream Road was broken into by the disgruntled boyfriend of one of her roommates. Fearing for her safety, Laura fled to the apartment of classmate and friend, Craig Sweet '79, who let her stay on his couch until she could find other housing. Not one to forget a kindness, Laura and Craig are still good friends.
She alludes to other fond memories, many of which were shared with lifelong friend, classmate and co-conspirator Nikki Brown '80. But the two of them agree that some of those reminiscences shouldn't be put in print!
Laura was particularly influenced by Professor Verne Howe. One of her fondest recollections is of attending an Environmental Conference in Cooperstown, NY, with Prof. Howe. "I was the only student chosen to go," Laura recalls. "Verne selected me because of my commitment to, and interest in environmental issues. She opened my eyes to so many possibilities."
That influence has lasted. After earning her BS from SVC, Laura went on to get a Master's degree in Environmental Science at Towson University in Towson, MD. Today she is the Environmental Compliance Coordinator for the Harford County Schools in Maryland. She currently deals with all aspects of water safety, but has also handled underground storage tanks, asbestos, indoor air quality and radon management. She makes her home in Havre de Grace, MD, with one husband, two dogs and six cats.
When asked what advice she would give to current SVC students, Laura says, "Walk the grounds. Hike the trails. Take advantage of being part of a small school. Get to know everybody." She continues to practice what she preaches. Despite the distance from her home, she serves as Vice Chair of the SVC/SJC Alumni Association Board, necessitating regular trips back to her alma mater. On most visits, she manages to squeeze in a hike, along with making time to reconnect with old SVC friends. The little school in Vermont with the unique, "custom-made" major continues to exert a kind of gravitational pull on Laura. All of us at SVC are very glad it does!
Michelle Deal, Assistant Professor, The Hunter Division of Humanities