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Being a Gael

Written by Lauren Rockwell Class of 1980:

I was a Gael from 1974-80, but really, I am forever a Gael. Even now at almost 60 years old, I am still connected to my Goretti family in many ways through social media and at get-togethers. Back then, we were a tight family and some of the kids I graduated from Goretti with, I had gone to school with since kindergarten at St. Mary (I’m talking to you, Bill Grimsley.)

I left Goretti to go on to the University of Dayton to earn a BA, and from there to the University of North Carolina for a master’s in psychology. For me, the plan was always to eventually get my Ph.D., but life, and work, and a sense of who I was meant to be got in the way. And I am glad it did! I think Goretti is the place where my leading a life of service was hatched and continues to grow. Once I started the ‘doing,” the rolling up my sleeves in the trenches, I never wanted to hit the pause button again. I love my work.

For 30 years now as a psychologist, I have worked solely in service to populations in need with Social Services and child protection. I work as an expert in the evaluation of children for abuse and neglect. That means I interview kids about the hard stuff, and I sit with their parents AND with the people who do ugly things and listen, and I testify in court. 

Suffice it to say, I catch a lot of tears in my work.

The one thing I hear all the time comes from parents of the kids, and their telling me how easy and nonjudgmental I was to talk to, how I made them feel better, or less like “the worst parent in the world.” I have heard gratitude for how easy I made it for their kids to tell. And I have heard kudos from judges that, ‘someone is doing this hard but important work.”

That is where the Goretti piece, (and my mom and dad) come in I believe. Goretti shaped who I am. My years there helped me figure out why I am here, and what I was called to do. Being part of a small and personal school me taught me to have compassion for every person, because we were family. And from there, it was an easy launch into understanding that everyone in the greater world is our family.  

My mom used to preach, “for there but for the grace of God goes I.” Goretti taught me, in so many ways that everyone deserves grace, compassion, dignity, and respect, and that EVERYONE is our brother. And that our job on this earth is to be a good steward of our gifts and talents and to improve social condition.

I wasn’t the best student, and not the worst. And even though I got into shenanigans, teachers always found a way to let me know I was liked and had gifts to give. Some on social media still do that to this day! The boost of those teachers gave me the confidence to go out in the world and find my place.

What matters is that you, as a Gael, figure out where your talents and gifts are; (listen to your teachers when they tell you!) and figure out how to use them to effect change, to lessen heartache or pain for another, or lift a spirit. That will be your success--not money, not degrees. What you do to make a difference for another person will make you a success.

My Goretti cohort continues to quietly fundraise for fellow Gaels who have had hardship, even to this day. Because we were Gaels.

Find your place in the world as a Gael and Christian.

That is what being a Gael is to me.