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A community that cares

August 18, 2022


For Sarah (Marek) Landman B’04, M’07, Saint Mary’s has always been a second home. A Winona native whose parents, Patrick B’79 and Maureen (Randell) ’81 Marek, as well as several aunts were all alumni, she was introduced to the Saint Mary’s community early in life. Running around her parents’ regular reunion get-togethers, she would frequently overhear her parents and their lifelong college friends laughing and reliving memories. Older brother Mike Marek B’07 also attended.

Also as a child, she began acting. At 6, she was involved in a community theatre performance that was the first performance in the “then” new Page Theatre on campus. As an eighth grader, she was cast in a Saint Mary’s performance and experienced first-hand the “culture and sense of caring” that theatre students had for one another.

When it came time to choose a college, she said she truly felt like Saint Mary’s wanted her to be part of the community. “Between Anthony Piscitiello, AFSC B’69, M’82 (then vice president of admission) reaching out and my admissions reps who would send me clippings every time I won an award or made the honor roll, and the fact my mom and dad went there, and a bunch of my aunts, it was a very comfortable and natural place to be,” she said.

Landman would soon discover she had many of the same experiences as her parents. She too enjoyed staying on campus during the summer. A theatre major, Landman worked in the admissions office and for the box office and enjoyed the true beauty of the campus. “I showed up as a freshman and never really went home,” she said.

“I felt cared for, and very much known,” she said. “Professors I didn’t even have classes with still knew my name. I can still see Jerry Seibert at Campus Safety; the women at the registrar’s desk; and everyone at the switchboard and in the cafeteria. Everyone was just so welcoming of all students. At Saint Mary’s, no one is anonymous.”

Eighteen years later, she, like her parents, stays in close touch with the friends she made on Terrace Heights. “Beyond the Theatre Department, I met a good group of friends from my residence hall,” she said. “I’m still friends with them, and I’m godmother to one of their children. We’ve been there for each other through marriages, having kids, and losing parents. We were there for each other during tough things; 9/11 occurred when I was a sophomore. That’s a good example of how the community rallied together during a traumatic event. The chapel was packed, we all went to an assembly and were encouraged to give to relief efforts.

“The Taylor Richmond Benefit started while I was a student, and I remember how supportive the community was of the Richmond family during their journey with Taylor (the benefit’s first recipient). When there was a need on campus, students responded with the resources they had, as well as prayers and support.”

Landman said when she compares her college memories with others, she finds no one else, who attended other universities, had the same experiences she did of a tight knit community and lifelong bonds.

Landman has also seen it from the graduate perspective.

Her first job out of college was in development at Saint Mary’s. An added bonus of her position, she was able to earn her Philanthropy and Development degree from the university.

She recalls being part of a supportive cohort. “I was at more of a junior level than most people,” she said. “Studying alongside professionals, I learned so much from them, and we’re all still in touch. My cohort has had four or five Zoom calls since COVID-19 began. We send each other Christmas cards. It was a different experience as a graduate, but the heart of it was still the same, that same sense of caring and community, everyone willing to share knowledge and contribute.”

Now a university trustee, Landman takes the honor and responsibility very seriously. “It’s important for me that Saint Mary’s is able to do what it did for me for future generations of students,” she said. “The faith component is behind a lot of the sense of community. At the root of being Lasallian Catholic is being good to each other, being kind, being a good human, and treating people like you want to be treated. That was at the core. It’s important to me to be a trustee of an institution that is faith based and is encouraging people to keep their faith. Under Father Burns’ leadership, it’s one of the things that energizes me. Saint Mary’s is a place where Catholic students can come and grow in their faith and not take a step back from it. And learning ethical values and leadership is more important than ever.”

The executive vice president of Insightful Philanthropy, Marek Landman said she knows that in the business community, you learn that ethical behavior isn’t always the norm. “This world needs more ethical leaders. There’s no better place to get a great community, a strong foundation, and grow in your faith than Saint Mary’s.”