Susan Maroldo is about four weeks away from finishing her final semester of teaching at Graceland University.
After 27 years of dedication to Graceland and its students, she is stepping aside but certainly not saying goodbye. In fact, she refuses to say goodbye. “Teaching is not just a role; it is a way of life. I don’t plan on walking away, just moving sideways.” But before Susan was a dedicated professor, she was also a student.
Susan came to what was known as Graceland College in 1962, at which point it had finally transitioned into a four year college. Her first year, she was placed into Solah and was living in Patroness, which used to serve as a residence hall. When asked about her experience as a student she was filled with anecdotes about how inspired she was as a student here. “I’ve always loved learning and knowledge, and at Graceland I was able to connect with the instructors in a way that illuminated possibilities for me.”
A class that stuck out in Susan’s mind as being especially impactful was a senior english class, taught by Velma Ruch, that she took as a sophomore. The class was small and challenging and fueled her love of poetry. In fact, Susan has always wanted to become a poet but her father was very much against the idea. He was concerned about financial security. “My father was a forward thinker and always told me that I needed to do something that would support me instead of finding someone to support me.”
She decided that she was going to study clinical speech pathology and transferred to the University of Maryland to finish her degree. While there she also gained a minor in psychology. Her love of knowledge continued as she studied for her masters and gained another minor in audiology. Despite taking science courses to complete her major she still kept her passion for poetry and literature alive by joining the Phi Beta Kappa liberal arts society.
In 1987, Susan came back to Graceland University and to Lamoni, which she says will be her permanent home. Over the last 27 years that she taught she says what she will carry with her are the connections that she has made with students. She believes there is something magical about the students who arrive here. At the end of this semester, that is what she is going to miss. She will miss interacting with young people who bring their magic to Graceland but she insists she is going to find new ways to interact with students.
“I’m not a person who dwells on missing because whatever experiences I’ve had at Graceland have been incorporated into the way I see the world. I carry [them] with me. I will wait to see if anyone can use the skills I have.”
Susan looks forward to using her skills by serving as a possible house mom, mentor, study partner, editor, or designer, though her list of possibilities goes on. She is excited for this new phase of her life during which she wants to travel with her family, see new sights, as well as enjoy simple pleasures such as sleeping in and drinking her coffee.
When I asked Susan if there was a final statement she would like to say to Graceland as a whole she responded with this beautiful paragraph:
“If living is a form of art and living well the ultimate creative act, then for the last twenty-seven years Graceland University has provided me endless opportunities to create a personal masterpiece. I take leave of my teaching years here filled with joy and gratitude for the gifts of this experience. I leave with priceless knowledge gained from the demands of creating communication courses, knowledge that has often transformed my life. I take with me countless memories—soccer games under harvest moons, concerts that healed my aching heart and weary mind, plays that challenged my thinking, laughter and tears shared with students who became dear friends, illuminating conversations with co-workers from all parts of the university, to name simply a few. My Graceland memories shared with others in the form of personal stories are flowing river stories that have opened up and continue to open up unlimited possibilities for my living.”
Graceland University will truly not be the same without Susan Maroldo as a professor but we can take comfort in the fact that she continues to be dedicated to her students in different ways. We love you Susan!