Maverick Magazine Spring 2022: CNR: The Legacy of Service Continues

CNR Alumnae

Sister Dorothy Ann Kelly, O.S.U., beloved longtime president of the College of New Rochelle (CNR), kept a prayer on her desk and read it every day. It read: “Gracious God, help us to work with you to make the world alive with your spirit and to build on earth a city of justice, love and peace.”

This prayer instilled a calling to service that alumni like Mary Sommer CNR SAS ’71, and Pearl Sullivan CNR SNR ’03, GS ’15, bring to life as they devote their lives to helping others. “When I’ve wondered if what I’m doing is any good or when I’m searching for direction, coming back to this prayer helps me to focus on what’s important and I continue to try to make a difference,” said Sommer who is still inspired by this prayer every day.

At CNR, Sommer found a passion for serving and being a mentor to others. “When I told Sister Dorothy Ann about my dream of becoming a lawyer, she was fully supportive. I wouldn’t say I didn’t believe in myself, but I certainly needed the support of this extraordinary woman who I admired.” After graduating from CNR with a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in political science, Sommer attended the University of Notre Dame School of Law.

For the next 33 years, she worked as a litigator both in private practice and for the cities of Norwalk and Stamford, Connecticut, handling cases in medical malpractice, civil rights, insurance, dispute resolution and more. In 2008, Sommer was appointed to the Connecticut Superior Court as a judge presiding over civil, criminal, family and juvenile matters—a role that she still holds and one that she sees as a way of serving others.

Similarly, Pearl Sullivan is no stranger to serving her community. She spent more than 14 years as a New York City police officer, primarily in the Street Crimes Unit, before retiring due to an injury. Soon after, she enrolled in the College of New Rochelle’s School of New Resources, which offered a bachelor’s degree program specifically for adults. “I couldn’t run after the bad guys anymore, but I could still do something for my community, so I decided to go back to school,” she explained. “I wasn’t finished serving yet.”

From the beginning, she felt that there was something different about CNR: “I went to other schools in the past, but they didn’t work out for me. When I found out about the Ursuline tradition of education for service and wisdom for life, I knew that CNR was the right place for me.” It also helped that her brother, Theodore Hayes CNR SNR ’01, was enrolled and seeing success at CNR. Years later, her daughter, Danielle Sawyer-Green CNR SNR ’16, followed in their footsteps

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