These days, when switching jobs every few years is the new normal, and people staying with one employer for more than five years is becoming increasingly rare, celebrating a 25-year anniversary at the same company truly is a landmark accomplishment and something to celebrate.
At Penn State, employees who reach this level of service receive a certificate of appreciation, along with a special commemorative gift -- their choice of a captain's chair, rocking chair or mantel clock, which have the University seal on them.
It is considered a rite of passage and something many employees who have been with the University for that length of time look forward to.
That was certainly the case for Marilee Mulvey and Lynne Fazio, the two employees who received their 25-year status this January -- and it marked much more than just a work anniversary.
"We always said we'd be getting our chairs together," said Marilee, the campus' director of information technology, referring to her friend, Lynne, administrative support assistant for word processing.
The two landed at Penn State Worthington Scranton in 1990, within one month of each other. Lynne's start date was July 9, 1990 and Marilee arrived on August 13, 1990. They were introduced to each other by Rich Dempsey, a now retired IST professor.
They clicked almost immediately and became fast friends, starting with a trip to University Park to attend a workshop together, during which they bonded.
Lynne remembers the first time she saw one of the faculty members getting their 25-year chair, and hoped that one day that could be her. As the years passed, she and Marilee found themselves looking forward to their 25-year anniversaries and the coveted Penn State chairs.
Before starting at PSWS, Marilee was living in San Francisco, but wanted to move home to be closer to family. In her office hangs a beautiful framed picture of the San Francisco skyline, including the office building where she once worked.
While she enjoyed her time in sunny California, Marilee is glad she moved back to Pennsylvania and was "thrilled" when she got her job at Penn State Worthington Scranton, adding that working for the University had always been her dream. She said she had always loved Penn State and everything about it, so it was a wonderful job for her to get.
Lynne had previously worked at the Scranton Counseling Center and was extremely excited when she was hired at PSWS and got to start on a new journey.
Both women said they love working at Penn State Worthington Scranton, where no two days are ever the same at work. Every day continues to bring a new challenge and there's always something new to learn, especially working in higher education.
"I really do love my job and coming to work on a daily basis," Lynne said, adding that there's not one specific reason, but rather, it's something she just enjoys doing.
Both Marilee and Lynne said that their jobs have changed dramatically over the 25 years that they have been at the campus. Major changes for both of them came with advancements in technology and the use of the Internet in their day-to-day tasks.
For Marilee, as the campus' IT director, it is imperative that she stay current with new and changing technologies.
For Lynne, the use of email as the main form of communication for staff and faculty who utilize the word processing department has created a much faster pace and much higher expectations in terms of timelines and deadlines. "Things were slower years ago, the communication was more physical - a phone call or a fax that you received during regular office hours. Now, with email, people can send things at all hours."
But that's not all that has changed.
Over the years, the two women also saw their friendship evolve and when asked about that, the energy level in the room exploded. Both Marilee and Lynne have many memories that they were so excited to talk about.
Lynne was Marilee's maid of honor when Marilee and her husband renewed their wedding vows in 1995. Lynne still has the jewelry box that was her gift from Marilee for being in her renewal ceremony.
They eat lunch together often, go shopping together and see each other during holiday breaks. They both worked on software trainings for the PA Junior Academy of Science back in the 1990's. They are both working moms, and have a lot of common ground in that area. When Lynne's dog had puppies, Marilee made one of them part of her family.
Marilee acknowledged that over the years, as they've had to juggle the demands of work and everyday life, they don't get to spend as much time together as they used to, or get to go out shopping as often as they would like. However, she still considers them to be close friends and said she always will.
Through all of the good times these two have had together, they also support each other in times that are tough.
This September, Lynne was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which was treated with surgery, and currently she is undergoing chemotherapy. "Receiving this chair was a big achievement for me," Lynne said, adding that when she first found out she had cancer, she wasn't sure if she would make it to get her chair.
But then she realized she needed to have a positive attitude in order to get through this challenge, and she forced herself to stay positive.
"I could just lay in bed and cry, but I know that that's not going to change anything," she said, getting serious for a moment. "So, when I feel good enough to get up and do things, I do. Some days are worse than others, and part of me feels like 'I can't believe my body did this to me,' but I push through it and make myself keep a positive attitude."
That positive attitude was evident to everyone in the room at the Staff and Faculty Welcome Back Luncheon on January 8, when Lynne and Marilee were recognized for their 25 years of service to the University and got those coveted chairs that they had looked forward to getting all these years.
PSWS Chancellor Marwan Wafa presented each woman with a Certificate of Achievement and their chairs, and then the two friends, who met in a hallway in the Dawson Building just over 25 years ago, posed for a photo in the chairs they had always hoped to get.
In looking at the photo (bottom photo shown at right), both are smiling, leaning in toward one another, and one can feel the sense of comraderie and pride the two women share.
"I look to Lynne for inspiration and a positive attitude," Marilee stated. "I know everything she's been through and it truly does inspire me."
"Most of the people I see at chemo have a really good attitude about life," Lynne said. "Great attitude doesn't get you through everything, but it does help a lot."
By Shawnna Meyers
Corporate Communication Intern