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Drake remembered for dedicated counseling

editor-in-chief

Published: Friday, April 13, 2012

Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 21:04

Drake

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Student Support Services counselor Cordelia Drake (top row, second from left) spent 21 years helping PSUC students. Here she is pictured with her fellow Student Support Services staff members.


 

When the rest of the room was content with a plastic fork, Cordelia Drake insisted on sparkling silverware. For Writing Skills Specialist Athena Castro-Lewandowski, it was this request that defined the dedication of Cordelia Drake.

In her role as counselor in the Student Support Services office, Drake extended that dedication to her interactions with students, and provided those students under her advisement with the sense of motivation and encouragement that they needed to succeed, Castro-Lewandowski said.

On April 3, students of Plattsburgh State lost that unique source of dedication with the death of Cordelia Drake at the age of 59. Drake, who had been on medical leave, died at the CVPH Medical Center. She spent 21 years of service as a counselor at PSUC.

During those years, Drake served as an adviser, mentor and friend to a number of students who came under her care, providing them with the tools they needed to work at their full potential.

As one of those students, Castro-Lewandowski remembers Drake as a valuable guide for her education, offering her options she never had considered and encouraging her to follow the path that would best direct her toward her goals.

“Delia was forthcoming with that information,” Castro-Lewandowski said. “She was like ‘You can do A, B or C, if you needed to.”

That path would eventually lead Castro-Lewandowski back to the office of her former mentor when she applied to join the Student Support Services office in 2008. As a co-worker, Castro-Lewandowski continued to observe Drake’s dedication firsthand as she noted the special touches in Drake’s behavior that provided her advisees the extra support they needed.

“You could see that she would stay late, or take their calls from home, which is not something I’m willing to do. I definitely have my life at home with my own family, but she was okay blurring those lines,” Castro-Lewandowski said.

Writing Skills Specialist Tom Thompson also noted the extra  dedication Drake put forth that went beyond the expected effort at Student Support Services.

“It’s often not an 8 to 4 job, and Delia was certainly one of those people who was here after-hours working with students,” Thompson said.

PSUC student Andrew Cooper, a former advisee of Drake’s, agreed that Drake worked to keep herself available whenever students needed advice or just a person to talk with.

“If her door’s open, she encouraged students to come in and say hello. Even if she wasn’t your adviser anymore, just to pop your head in, let her know how you’re doing, if there’s any other things she could help out with,” Cooper said.

It was this open-door policy that PSUC student Torrie Haberman said she would miss the most with Drake’s passing.

“I really am going to just miss seeing her face and just having someone to talk to and ask questions to, someone that I could just talk to about anything,” Haberman said.

Thompson was able to experience that extra effort firsthand as another former advisee of Drake’s before he joined the Student Support Services office in 2003 as a graduate assistant. Yet even as a co-worker, Thompson noticed his old adviser making the same efforts to have him feel welcome and to express her confidence in his success during his first day on the job.

“She had baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies and she said ‘These are for you. I know you’ll do well’ and ‘This is your first day. Congratulations and I know you’ll do well,’ and to me that meant a lot because it was a small act of kindness, but it was really typical of what Delia was about and the kinds of things she would do for people,” Thompson said.

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