By: Kiaunna Brockington
The Buccaneer would like to take the time to remember our fallen Bucs, Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin, OP and sports management student Anatalia Peña. One an administrator and one a student, both of these individuals made significant contributions to Barry but were taken too soon.
Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, OP
Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, OP, former president of Barry University for 23 years, died early Tuesday morning on June 18, 2019. Sister Jeanne served as the fifth president of the university from 1981 to 2004. While in office, Sister Jeanne raised $20 million and she increased student enrollment from 1,759 students to 9,042. She also added 38 buildings to the campus and increased the amount of academic schools at Barry University from five to 10.
Sister O’Laughlin also managed to get Barry University out of troubling debt. In an interview before her death, she explained how her faith did this.
“I never thought that the Lord would answer it in a prayer by singing ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina’,” she said. “However, that was the beginning of the change.”
In this very same interview, Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin stated how appreciative she was of the student body and the faculty.
“It was interesting, people were so good, and we had marvelous faculty and beautiful, beautiful students that the Lord would bring us. It was a marvelous place to be and it just seemed we could attract the goodness of the world,” said Sister O’Laughlin.
Dr. Laura Alonso-Gallo, a professor and department chair of the English and foreign languages department remembered Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin fondly.
“Sister Jeanne was this very powerful presence,” she said. “She was sweet, but at the same time she was strong. She had a sense about the world, a practicality... at the same time she had this very powerful, spiritual force that was very inspiring.”
Since entering the Adrian Dominican Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary in June of 1945, Sister O’Laughlin dedicated her life to achieving a higher purpose in education. Her previous professional experience included being an executive assistant to the president of Saint Louis University as well as an associate professor and member of the graduate faculty there as well.
Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin’s legacy will live on through the university as well as through those she impacted. Her mass was held on Oct. 1 and was filled with supporters.
It was a tragic day when Barry University lost Anatalia Peña on August 25, 2019. She was heading back to Barry for her sophomore year before she died in a car crash. She was also a recreation and wellness assistant at Barry.
Peña managed to touch the lives of those she crossed during her short time here at Barry University. Dr. Christina Crossgrove, an associate professor of English, reflects on her impact.
“I only had her for a semester, but she definitely left a big impression,” said Crossgrove. “She was the kind of student in my class who was incredibly kind to her classmates. She was just well liked and was an incredible asset and joy to have in the classroom.”