A former Staff Excellence Award winner and proud alumna of Newman — Linda Sabala — has been with the university for 27 years this August and will be retiring at the end of June.
She has served Newman University in several different capacities both inside and outside the Admissions Office, including as the Bookstore Manager, and has "also generously contributed her time and energy to the staff assembly, ASC sisters as an ASC Associate, to many of our greatest Newman traditions including High Tea and the Silent Auction as a committee member and chair, to service projects, and so much more," explained Vice President for Enrollment Norm Jones.
Moving from her work at a bookstore in town, Sabala took on a new challenge when she was hired to manage the bookstore and mail and copy services department at Newman University in August 1990.
"I worked two weeks and realized there was no way one person could do all of that work. Then, they changed the job, so I stayed and worked in the bookstore for 10 years," Sabala said.
As she advanced, Sabala earned her masters in adult education and in 2000 she was hired to work with adult and graduate students helping to initiate programs such as the Saturday Plus program.
"This was a big program for adults which enabled adult students who had full-time jobs and kids at home to come and get their degree just by going to class one morning on Saturdays," she said.
Even though she missed seeing students on a daily basis in the bookstore, Sabala enjoyed her work in the graduate program.
"I recruited," she said. "I went out into the community, attended college fairs for transfers and graduate students, did some traveling, went to some conferences and met peers and people who could bring to the table new ideas for recruiting and making the school more visible to adult and graduate people. I really enjoyed that part."
In 2014, Sabala was asked if she'd be willing to take on yet another challenge.
"Because I had been serving as the 'super user' for the admissions module and knew how to process applications — that was a need that we had at that time — they asked me to step in there," she explained.
"I’ve been glad to have a position, and glad to be able to work in a position where I can contribute to the university."
When Sabala was asked what her favorite role at the University was, she responded, "My absolute favorite was the bookstore job. When I took it, we were just in a little room in the basement of Sacred Heart, and the student union was right outside the door of that room."
At the bookstore, she got to know a large majority of the students and was able to use her creative skills — deciding on advertising and ordering clothes and other items to sell in the bookstore.
She also enjoyed the fact that she had a lot of student workers and a staff of three people to lend her a hand and share her joy of the job with. "To me, that was great, because I could count on them," she added.
On top of sharing her time, talent, and dedication to Newman University for 27 years, Sabala's time at Newman can be traced back even further as an alumna of the university, along with all four of her sisters and many, many members of the Sabala and Watson families, creating a four-generation 'legacy'.
Along with receiving her masters in adult education, Sabala received her bachelor's in Elementary Education at Sacred Heart (Newman University) in 1968. She then began her journey as an elementary teacher in 1972, teaching at St. Anne's School in Wichita, Kan., St. Mark's Elementary School in Colwich, Kan., and St. Mary's Aleppo in St. Mary's, Kan.
She taught for seven years until she began having children of her own.
Sabala chose to receive her education at Newman University because she knew the quality of education that would be offered. She also had confidence in the instructors, knowing they would help her reach her ultimate goal of working with students and helping them to work hard to better their own family life.
"Linda's retirement is a real loss for Newman," said Jones. "But we celebrate all she's done for us and wish her the very best in her retirement. Her presence here has been invaluable and the university will benefit from her contributions for years to come."
Sabala said, "I will absolutely miss my co-workers, we are just like family. Even though so many have changed, we have a comradery and I’ll miss seeing them and the ASCs. But most of all, I’ll miss the energy from the students on the campus. At the end of summer, it’s always so much fun to see them come back and checking in. We (my family) have had some wonderful opportunities. It’s been a part of our lives and I just felt at home here."
She also shared her favorite memories that she has made while at Newman University.
"My favorite memory centers around the Haysville and Greensboro tornado clean-ups, when we formed groups to go into those communities and assist in putting people's lives back together. I think the work we did during those times had nothing to do with our jobs and everything to do with the mission of Newman."
Another favorite memory revolved around the beginning of each new academic year.
"The beginning of the year, Masses were always good memories because they reminded us why we are doing what we're doing — and looking at all the new, hopeful freshmen reaffirmed our opportunity to make differences in many lives."
Sabala has made a huge impact on Newman University — its students, staff and faculty — with her hard work, love, and dedication. As she moves on to the next chapter in her life, getting ready to welcome two new grandchildren, Sabala will be offering her time doing volunteer work, including working at a hospital holding babies, helping the ASCs as a Eucharistic Baker, helping out at St. Francis of Assisi, and of course, at future Newman University events.
"I've been affiliated with Newman for 50 years now. That's not something you just walk away from."