LaGuardia Community College has a club for just about every interest and skill. Photography, chess, creative writing, women in stem, tabletop board games, psychology, cooking, anime, economics, are all clubs organized by students for students. Despite the presence of these clubs at LaGuardia, each offering leadership and community-building opportunities, a growing number of LaGuardia students […]
An infectious laugh echoes off the walls whenever I walk through the doors of the English Department. I may only be there to ask a question, perhaps, but as soon as I turn to my right, I am met with a warm greeting by Lenore McShane and her booming voice asking, “Hey, hun, how can I help you?”
Every day, an adventure awaits those who work in the English Department, and Friday, March 29th at 2:30 p.m. was not any different.
As I am there waiting to meet her, Mrs. McShane steps into the office with a fiery energy announcing the case of the two missing easels that belong to the department. You can hear the rhythmic steps of her black boots before she takes a seat to do some damage control.
Being an administrative assistant for the English Department for nearly 15 years, Mrs. McShane is not new to any unexpected dilemmas that may arise. Her handling business does not stop her from engaging in conversation and laughter with both myself and Linda Dong, another administrative assistant.
She thanks me for being patient, and we laugh more about the absurdity of someone stealing an easel, as she pulls out the keys to Rosemarie’s Room, one of the two conference rooms located in the English Department.
Italian and German on her mother’s side, and Irish on her father’s, Mrs. McShane was born and raised in South Bronx on 53rd street, Melrose Avenue.
“It was very funny because there were certain churches that you went to when you were of a different nationality. My mom went to the German church,” Mrs. McShane recalls.
Mrs. McShane, 65 years old and a wife and mother of two, has been working at LaGuardia Community College for over 30 years. She was placed in different departments all around campus in different roles, one of them being the Registrar’s Office. The registration process now is much more accessible for students now than it was 33 years ago. Mrs. McShane shares that the schedule for classes back then were done on paper and students were given booklets.
I ask her how students registered for classes when she worked for the Registrar. “In person,” she answers “We used to register every single person, in person. It was interesting. There were many late nights. There were full-time people who worked the labs, so we knew what we were doing. You know, there are a lot of things we had to take care of because we were dealing with 10,000 students. You had to know what you were doing.”
Mrs. McShane is so involved with the students at LaGuardia that when she attended Queens College to study Psychology, recent graduates from LaGuardia who also attended Queens College would spot her on campus and proceed to ask her for directions as well as general administrative questions.
“It was like your role just kind of goes with you,” she says. Mrs. Dong mentions, “She is the perfect person to interview. She is a part of so many committees, helping people.”
Treating people how one would want to be treated – Mrs. McShane’s life philosophy – makes sense for the roles that she has taken on, helping individuals around her. Along with assisting students every day, she serves as the Vice President of Local 384, DC 37. Local 384 was created in February of 1952 through a bill introduced by the then State Senator Harry Gittleson. The employees covered by the union are referred to as Gittlesons. In her role as a Vice President, she is responsible for approximately 100,750 members around CUNY; this includes library employees, department administrators, reprographics, mail messengers, and others.
“I hope when people feel that they have problems that they reach out to me, and they do…I enjoy my role of Vice President of the union,” she said. Mrs. McShane hopes to one day be the Union President.
Her passion for helping people is equally matched with her passion for travel. Growing up, Mrs. McShane’s eyes were not set on attending college. At the time, college was not promoted as much as it is now. She was more focused on getting a job in the travel field.
Straight out of high school, Mrs. McShane began working at AAA (pronounced “Triple A”), a federation of motor clubs in North America, as a travel counselor, which entailed “routing people throughout the United States via maps and airline reservations,” she says. This job only enhanced her love for traveling. At this point in her life, she has visited a good portion of the world, but has many countries still on her bucket list.
“I’ve been to Italy, England, and most of the national parks. Italy’s my favorite. I’ve been all over Italy, and I am going back next year,” she shares. She expresses excitement for her upcoming trip to Amsterdam.
As I ask her about her greatest accomplishment, her face turns a crimson shade of red and her eyes start to water. “I have two children. A boy and a girl, and they are truly wonderful… I am really lucky.”