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Playing mom to an entire college campus

When Maureen Somerville received a message from her boss to meet him at 1:45 p.m., she was worried she had done something wrong.

I was thinking, 'What have I done?' said Somerville, who swipes the ID cards for students to get into the Massry Commons dining hall at Siena College. "I went into the room, and it was all set up with a podium up front. There were people dressed in suits. I thought my kids were supposed to be there."

After first watching a priest talk, then one of her advisers and then hearing one the students she sees regularly at the dining hall speak, she realized it was an award ceremony for her.

Somerville has only been working at Siena College for nine months, and she was receiving the award for Staff Member of the Year, which was given to her by the Siena College Student Senate. Somerville said she was completely surprised and happy to get the award.

The students, though, knew she deserved it.

"I would definitely say she deserved the award," said senior Caroline Costano, 21, who was a former resident assistant in Building 13, where the dining hall is located. "She's putting herself in that job every single day and is pouring her heart into everyone around."

Somerville has two sons attending the college, one a sophomore and the other a junior. Her previous job was as office manager at the Albany County Vault Corporation, a burial vaults manufacturing and delivery business. She left her job in 1990 when she had her first child and became a stay-at-home mother. When her two boys left for college, things became a little too quiet for her around the house.

While waiting at the doctor's office for her daughter, who attends Shaker High School, she saw an ad for the position at Siena College. She figured that since she lived so close to the campus, it would be a good idea to apply.

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