Elise Girard, Director of Student Health Services, sat down with us for a Q&A session on her career and what it’s been like navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is your title and role at Immaculata University?
I am a registered nurse and director of Student Health Services.
How long have you been working at IU?
I started at IU in 2006 as a per diem nurse working on Monday evenings in the Student Health Center. I had three young children at the time and was also working in the ICU at Chester County Hospital on the weekends. As my children got older and went to school, I started picking up more hours at Immaculata and less at the hospital. I eventually left the hospital and became the nurse educator for the Student Health Center in 2011. Then I became the assistant director in 2014 and now I am the director—since 2017.
Where did you attend college?
I graduated in 1991 from Baystate Medical Center School of Nursing, a diploma-based RN program, located in Springfield, Massachusetts. I received my B.A. in nursing from Immaculata University in 2014.
Where are you originally from (born/raised)?
I was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. I lived there for 26 years before moving to North Carolina after I got married. I eventually made my way to Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1998, shortly after my first daughter was born.
Tell me about your family life.
I have lived a mile and a half down the road in West Chester with my husband for the last 24 years. We have three daughters. My oldest daughter graduated from Fox Business School at Temple with a B.A. in finance in 2019. She lives and works in Philadelphia. My middle daughter is a senior at University of Pittsburgh majoring in chemistry and will be graduating in May 2022. She also played on the Pitt women’s ice hockey team for three years. My youngest daughter is a freshman at Temple presently in the Liberal Arts School but is leaning toward something in the health care field. She is settling into her freshman year and joined the club lacrosse team.
What are some of the positives of your job?
I enjoy working with the college-age population, I say they keep me young! It is a privilege to watch them progress from wide-eyed, curious freshmen to self-confident seniors ready to take on the world.
Another positive aspect of my job is the variety of people and situations I encounter daily. Each day is different from the next in terms of what someone is going to need assistance with.
How were you affected by COVID – both professionally and personally?
Professionally, I have been stretched thin, not unlike my coworkers, in trying to keep the IU community healthy and safe. I am appreciative and humbled by the faith and trust my boss and co-workers have in me with regards to interpreting the updates and data surrounding the pandemic. They allowed me to take the lead for our COVID action plan and protocols here on campus to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
Personally, I count myself as one of the lucky ones that did not lose a family member to COVID. However, I have had close friends who have lost loved ones. It happens unexpectedly and is devastating every time. My prayers go out to all who have lost loved ones to this devasting virus.
What is the best advice you received during your career?
Never be afraid to ask questions. There’s no shame in saying you do not know or understand something. We are all here to learn from each other.
What are some of your hobbies/interests?
I always enjoyed being active with my daughters in school and in their sporting activities, but my youngest just left for college, so my husband and I are empty nesters. We are trying to find new activities to fill in that time together and individually. My latest endeavor was joining an 8-week axe throwing league. We plan to travel more, and my goal is to get a puppy this spring and train her to be a therapy dog. Could a beach house also be in our future? I certainly hope so!