For many international students arriving on campus, one woman is a source of welcome, interest and cultural understanding. For many international students, one of the reasons they come to think of HWS as home is because of that same extraordinary person: Mary Herlihy Gearan.
To honor Gearan and thank her for her dedication and hospitality, the International Student Association (ISA), the Office of Intercultural Affairs and Sodexo Catering organized a celebration in the Common Room in Scandling Campus Center.
“When I was first asked by the Office of Intercultural Affairs to speak, I smiled to myself because I thought it was exactly appropriate, given my relationship with Mary and the Gearans,” said Mariza Pereira ’10 of Portugal. “Mary has been unstoppable in educating international students about the Colleges and the region, about humility, commitment and leadership.”
“Mary has kept her heart and her house open to international students,” said Sara Ergin ’09 of Turkey, who is now working at Geneva General Hospital. “If there’s an event on campus for international students, she has a role in it. I can comfortably say that the Gearans have been my American family.”
Presenting Gearan with a bouquet, Seher Syed ’10 of Pakistan captured the moment: “I want to thank you on behalf of all the international students for providing a home away from home.”
In recognition of Gearan’s involvement on campus, last year the ISA created and awarded the first annual Mary Herlihy Gearan Award for Outstanding Contributions to the International Community.
“The award honors the longstanding commitment of Mrs. Mary Herlihy Gearan to the development and nourishing of the international community on campus,” the ISA said. “Mrs. Gearan has been an adamant advocate for international students and has actively participated in promoting policies beneficial to the recruitment and retention of students from abroad.”
During last year’s annual ISA dinner, the first Mary Herlihy Gearan Award was given to Chevy DeVaney ’95, the former International Student Advisor and Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs and a William Smith alumna.
Gearan holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Emmanuel College in Boston and a law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She has worked for two members of Congress: Congressman Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.) in his Mass. District Office and Congressman Joseph Moakley (D-Mass.) on Capitol Hill. She later served as Vice President at the Wexler Group, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C.