Helm enjoys solving problems, helping others through ITS

By Jack Pinsky ’14, staff writer

While most students are familiar with F&M’s extensive history, most are not as aware of Mary Anne Helm’s, coordinator of operations for Information Technology Services (ITS), long history with the College.

Helm was born in Columbia, Penn. and was raised in Lancaster near F&M. Her parents held the attitude that F&M, then an all-male school, was a very private institution, so, as a child, Helm was never allowed to visit campus.

Once she graduated from Lancaster Catholic High School, Helm started working as a secretary for a travel agency. She applied for a job as a secretary at F&M, but was not hired. However, the managers of Shadek-Fackenthal Library learned of her application, took an interest, and proceeded to hire her.

Helm began working in circulation and interlibrary loan in 1981. Eight years later, Helm was transferred to Computer Services, the name of ITS at the time, and has worked there ever since.

Spending so much time at F&M has allowed Helm to appreciate the different kinds of people who pass through the College. She has worked through five different F&M presidents.

Specifically, she remembers Dean Dewey, who worked under President Kevin Spalding, who, despite his esteemed position, would send handwritten notes of thanks or encouragement to students and staff. Helm has seen how students grow during their four years and still keeps in touch with some she met when they were freshmen.

As an employee of the College, Helm began taking classes in the Evening Division, a former program for F&M staff members through which they could take courses for credit. At a rate of one class per semester, Helm steadily gained credits until she graduated with a degree in Studio Art in 2003. Helm has some of her artwork hanging in her office from a papermaking class. Helm said she enjoyed how professors treated her no differently from the other students.

“The professors didn’t give me any slack,” Helm said.

Helm cites her graduation day as her favorite memory of F&M, even though the weather was less than ideal.

“It was a cold, rainy day and the ceremony had to be held in the ASFC,” Helm said

Helm cherishes this F&M memory in particular for the sense of accomplishment she felt and the acceptance she felt from the other graduating students.

Helm had a son, who passed away three years ago, and a daughter who has four children of her own. One of those children has a daughter, who is Helm’s first great-grandchild.

Today, she enjoys painting, crochet, and knitting. She also enjoys crossword puzzles, word searches, and sudoku puzzles to challenge her mind.

During her tenure of over twenty years in ITS, Helm says her favorite thing about working in her position is the variety of problems she gets to solve every day, from fixing hardware on campus to organizing important documents for the college. She enjoys seeing all the new technology and helping out anybody with a problem with technology. She also likes working with her coworkers, who she says keep her on her toes.

Finally, I asked Helm to provide a piece of advice to students at F&M.

“Don’t stress out,” she said. “Relax and enjoy. Students need to enjoy it.”

Senior Jack Pinsky is a staff writer. If you would like to nominate a staff member for a profile email jpinsky@fandm.edu.

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