Sharon O'Leary: College Coordinator Puts the Love in Lovett College

Sharon O'Leary, College Coordinator for Lovett College

Native Houstonian, water aerobics enthusiast

Ask the college coordinators at Rice what they love about their job, and you are bound to hear some boasting about their college. For Sharon O’Leary, coordinator for Lovett College, that includes remarking on the rich history and culture that makes the college shine as it celebrates its 50th anniversary in the fall of 2018.

“Our very first magister, Dr. Robert Curl, was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1996, and is still very active as a faculty associate,” Sharon says. “We are also known for having a student-run college culture. Lovett students are treated as adults with support but not supervision of the adult team."

Lovett also is the only college at Rice with its own undergraduate research symposium, and it has proudly held the President’s Cup for intramural sports for the past five years, she notes.

 “Residential college life is a great place to put your love and to do small things that make a student’s day better.” — Sharon O’Leary

For Sharon, the best part of being at Lovett is the opportunity to support students as they explore all of the possibilities they can imagine. That often begins with a student wandering into her office with a question or frustration, and ends with Sharon directing them to the appropriate resource, whether it be alumni, faculty or academic counselors. Such connections open up new insights for students and often result in mentorships, internships and jobs.

“With the college coordinator role, the students know someone is here for them during the day to lend an ear and answer their questions,” she says. “My hope is that this support helps them pursue the life they want and contribute to making the world a better place.”

Immersing herself in the life at Lovett, Sharon can be found having early-morning coffee with the magisters (formerly masters), meeting periodically with the college’s president and faculty, and enjoying mealtimes with the students. Her door is always open.

“My office opens up to the quad, and it is wonderful to have a constant flow of people in and out, and to be able to look out and see the students studying, playing volleyball, jumping on the trampoline listening to music or just hanging out,” she says. “Residential college life is a great place to put your love and to do small things that make a student’s day better, whether that means providing a hug, a paper clip, a cup of tea or even a ride to an emergency doctor’s appointment or the airport when other transportation fails.”   

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