New residence director engages and builds community


Mary Kate Waldow, the new Resident Director for Thomas Moore (Photo by: Elizabeth Wagner).

Cheerful, genuine and kind, the new residence director on campus, Mary Waldow, is bringing her own sunshine to St. Thomas More Hall. Laughing, Waldow confessed, “I want it to be the best dorm … but best in the terms of, like, we’re all growing in our faith and we’re all striving for the same thing.”

How is she going to accomplish this? In a word: community. “I want it to feel like the girls’ home … I want them to feel comfortable here,” Waldow said. “I want their residence experience to be what they look back on and remember.”

The oldest of seven siblings, Waldow hails from Chantilly, Virginia. Waldow attended St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania, where she majored in English and received her secondary education licensure.

On her list of favorite activities are playing sports and spending time in the sun and at the beach. Waldow is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan and also an enthusiastic reader. When it comes to books, she mainly enjoys British literature, but her favorite book is “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Waldow listed Pope St. John Paul II as one of her favorite saints, along with St. Teresa of Calcutta. In fact, during college, Waldow traveled to Calcutta, India, where she “worked with Mother Teresa’s sisters and visited her tomb.” About the trip, she said, “That was a really life-changing experience for me, I would say, and it made me realize not to take anything for granted in life.”

On that same trip, Waldow met her husband, to whom she has been married for four years and with whom she now has a 21-month-old son, Peter Karol. After graduation, she worked as an English teacher for three years at Catholic high schools before becoming a residence director at Ave Maria University.

Motivated by a desire to be closer to family near Pittsburgh, Waldow and her husband wanted to move back north, and Waldow described the opportunity to work at Franciscan University of Steubenville as “too good to be true,” citing the strong Catholic faith at Franciscan as what specifically drew her to the university.

As the residence director of St. Thomas More Hall, Waldow is eager to foster her new community: “With three hundred women, I feel like that’s hard, but it’s also something that’s really important to the hall, and hopefully, my family living here will help that as well.”

Looking back on her own college years, Waldow reminisced, “Community was really important for me in college … I want people to foster life-long relationships with the people that they’re surrounded by. I think that’s really important.”

Linked to this goal, Waldow is excited to engage with the households, noting how unique to Franciscan that particular form of community is. “I’m super excited to see household life and get involved in it where I can,” she said. “I know that’s, like, a unique aspect at Franciscan, and it’s something that I’ve always heard about.”

Waldow is also the new assistant coach of the women’s swim team. She began coaching when she was just 16, and she herself was a member of swim team during college. Looking forward to the upcoming season, Waldow said, “I’m really excited to join the swim program … I’m really excited for the season to start, and I think there’s a lot of potential this year.”

Overall, Waldow expressed her joy over being on campus and her desire to get to know the residents in a personal way. “I want to be there for the residents and to support them and to get to know who they are as people and to be able to walk with them.”

Working toward this goal, Waldow enthusiastically invited all of the residents to “stop by my office or apartment any time. I would love to get to know you better.” She wants them to know “that I’m praying for you. I pray for my residents every day.”

Lastly, Waldow asked the students to “say hi to my son Peter anytime you want because he loves it!”

Under the guidance of Franciscan’s newest residence director, the women of St. Thomas More Hall can look forward to a fun-filled year of growing together as a community.