Center for Excellence Honoree: Maria GouldFor three years, the residents of Dana English Hall have been nominating Maria Gould for an Excellence in Service to Students Award. It turns out the third time was, indeed, the charm.
A native of the Philippines, Gould had previously shied away from the award, concerned that her lack of English proficiency would be a problem should she have to speak in public.
"It's OK if they nominate me, that's it... because I don't speak better English," she would tell the students whose lives she consistently enhanced with a smile and a warm "hello" while she worked in the place affectionately known as "Dana."
"She doesn't want the limelight," said supervisor of residential services Jeff Tarquino. "She just wants to come to work every day, do her job and go home. She doesn't want all the glamour."
As for any speeches, Gould can tap the 35 different nominations, well more than the typical amount of nominations per candidate, that were submitted in support of her last spring. They certainly tell the story of a selfless woman, who is beginning her seventh year as a custodian for the University residence halls.
"Maria gave me tea when I wasn't feeling good and always compliments me and gives me great advice when I need it. I feel like I can treat her like my second mother. She is all heart and no complaints," wrote Theresa Sparaco, a sophomore nursing major.
"Maria has been like a 'grandmother' to all of us here at college," added sophomore Scott Gunter, who is majoring in athletic training. "By that I mean, she cares about us no matter what, is very understanding, and brightens all of our days in some shape or form."
Gould started working for the University in March 2003 after her husband, Kenneth J. Gould, started taking music classes on campus. He happened to be friends with Sam Costanzo, who is now a music professor emeritus. Costanzo served as a reference for Maria.
Following her hiring, she began applying a simple philosophy to her job, in addition to handling all the trash produced by the approximate 160 residents and making the bathrooms look immaculate. "I treat the kids like my own daughter because if they have problems, they come to me," she said.
When Gould found out about the award, she was greeted by University President John L. Lahey and Jean Husted, vice president and executive associate to the president, in one of Dana's first-floor bathrooms.
"I was shocked," Gould said. "First of all, I told them I don't know how to speak better English. They said, 'That's OK.' "
Actions are louder than words anyway.