Dolores laGuardia inspired students and faculty alike
THE SANTA CLARA
September 26, 2013
Life as a young college student at Santa Clara can be daunting. But those who knew Dolores laGuardia credit her for encouraging the passion and hard work needed to achieve success both inside and outside the classroom.
“She was always really interested in really wanting to get students involved in making a difference on campus, and I think that’s what made me appreciate her so much,” said Michael Erkelens, a 2012 graduate who benefited immensely from his relationship with laGuardia.
Surrounded by her family, laGuardia died this past July after a battle with cancer, according to Director of Campus Ministry Jack Treacy, S.J. and interim Director of The HUB Writing Center Denise Krane.
Current senior Dominique Troy shared similar memories of laGuardia, who began teaching in the English Department at Santa Clara in 1994.
“She was hard on students, but at the same time pushing them to always do better, be a better person, step outside of your comfort zone,” said Troy.
Known for her enthusiasm, laGuardia earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Jose State University along with doctoral work at the University of San Francisco before arriving on the Mission Campus.
She also taught in Russia, Germany and Israel, as well as having family ties to New York and its LaGuardia Airport.
“It was really funny because her last name is laGuardia and I’m from New York,” said Troy, who took a class taught by laGuardia during her freshman year in 2011. “Eventually I found out that one of her relatives was the mayor of New York. So the airport is actually named after her family. So that was a fun, quirky thing that we joked about.”
As director of The HUB Writing Center since she founded it in 2008, laGuardia oversaw the peer writing partners who helped other students hone their penmanship in the basement of the Benson Memorial Center. She also trained “Hired Pens,” who were students who offered editorial support to faculty, staff or specific departments on campus.
Erkelens has a passion for photography, and also took a business writing class taught by laGuardia. He developed a lasting relationship with the professor after she hired him to take photos for The HUB.
“I think that’s where I got to see Professor laGuardia’s true personality, quirks and all,” said Erkelens. “We would joke around and we would laugh at things that were just very awkward. ”
Krane, who took over as The HUB’s interim director this summer, remembered laGuardia as someone who was “really independent, and independent in a really fun way.”
Krane, who teaches classes in the English Department, reflected on how laGuardia was one of her first acquaintances after starting work at Santa Clara in 2007.
“She said pretty much what she thought and didn’t hold back her beliefs and that’s sort of refreshing,” said Krane, who helped laGuardia spearhead development of The HUB.
“When I think about her, the thing that comes to mind is The HUB and thinking about how much enthusiasm she had for it and how much passion she had for helping writers — not just struggling writers or great writers, but every writer on campus,” said Krane. “That’s a loss for The HUB. It’s a loss for (Santa Clara) and certainly she had a lot of people who were fond of that enthusiasm.”
LaGuardia is survived by her husband, David Palmer, her two sons, Dorian and Justin, and their families.
A memorial service will be held on Monday, Sept. 30, at 5 p.m. in the Mission Church.
Contact Nick Ostiller at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4849.
Correction: October 9, 2013
The photo of Dolores laGuardia was miscredited. It should have read “Michael Erkelens — The Santa Clara.”