Gail Garrett’s work as a computer operator in IT Services is not very visible because she starts her shift at 3 p.m., but her role is critical nonetheless. Starting as a keypunch operator and keeping up with changing technology, Gail has provided IT service to departments across campus for 30 years.
What she likes best about her job is “working with a great group of people,” who collectively have given over 100 years of service to Saint Mary’s.
And while Gail recognizes the importance of her official role here, she considers her unofficial work as a Saint Mary’s ambassador equally important. “I just feel so blessed to be here on this beautiful campus and to be part of the Lasallian mission,” she said. “I agree whole-heartedly with the Lasallian principles.” Many years ago, Gail took to heart a notice that Brother Mel sent to all staff: “You work for the students,” the announcement said, “that’s why you’re here; without them you wouldn’t have a job.” That philosophy guides her to this day.
Gail, who starts most encounters with a hug, frequently spends her lunch hours and breaks talking to students. She asks them where they’re from, what they are majoring in, and how they’re doing. She gets to know them and finds it gratifying to watch them mature during their years here. She also supports students by attending various campus events. CILSA honored Gail at their 2013 awards ceremony as Engaged Staff Member of the year, a recognition that goes to a staff member who demonstrates Lasallian principles on and off campus.
Thirty years on staff was probably enough to earn Gail the “Gael” title, but completing a bachelor’s degree in Cross Cultural Studies, one class per semester over 10 years, sealed the deal; she is officially a Gael and a proud member of the Class of 2002.
When Gail is not working at Saint Mary’s, she’s spending time with her family or volunteering in the Richmond community where she lives. She is a board member of the Advisory Council on Aging and advises the Richmond Board of Supervisors on matters related to planning, development, and administration of programs for older adults. She is also a Meals on Wheels board member, and president of the Senior Nutrition Council. Gail enjoys visiting homebound seniors, bringing them meals, driving them to appointments, or just taking them out for a drive. She also facilitates a class at the North Richmond Senior Center, modeled after Saint Mary’s Seminar classes. If that’s not enough, she recently completed training to become a volunteer Writer/Coach at Richmond High School. “I wish I could do more,” she said, “but I have a full-time job.”