Lissette Olmeda, a Fordham administrative assistant who was celebrated for her “sunny competence and determination,” passed away on March 4. She was 51 years old.
Olmeda, PCS ‘03, GSAS’08, began working at the Graduate School of Education (GSE) in 1994 as an administrative assistant in the Division of Curriculum and Teaching. Olmeda supported faculty members, students, and alumni of the program throughout her career.
Diane Rodriguez, Ph.D., a professor in the Division of Curriculum and Teaching, described Olmeda as a humanist who wanted people to be good to each other. Olmeda led by example, she said, especially in her interactions with students.
“She would go out of her way to help them fill out paperwork for their dissertations and transcripts,” Rodriguez said. “She made sure they were on the right path for graduation.”
For Olmeda’s sister-in-law Maritza Rivera-Garcia, a health insurance compliance administrator at the Rose Hill campus, Olmeda exemplified the University mission of cura personalis.
“She was a mediator [who was]always looking for solutions,” said Rivera-Garcia. “She inspired family and others to pursue their dreams.”
“Lissette always put things in perspective when anyone was having a bad day and always did it with a big smile,” said Anisa Torres-Sanchez, director of financial aid. “It didn’t matter how upset or worried you were about things in life; if Lissette was in your path, she changed your outlook and you always walked away feeling better.”
Olmeda lost her first husband as a newlywed, said former colleague and friend Delores Pogue. From then on, she was determined to provide a wonderful home and consistent educational support for her son Alexis Olmeda, a Fordham PCS student.
“In all the years working with Lissette, her colleagues have found that ‘no’ or ‘I’m too busy’ were never a part of her lexicon,” said Pogue.
Olmeda was born in the Dominican Republic and resided in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. The youngest of eight children, Olmeda enjoyed attending church, going to picnics, riding her bike, reading, and dancing salsa and merengue, according to Vilma Doleo, Olmeda’s sister.
“She was very outgoing and was always surrounded by dear friends,” Doleo said. “She even dreamt of a day when she could buy a building, where all her family could live together.”
Virginia Roach, dean of GSE, said Olmeda will be remembered for her compassionate and resilient spirit.
“Her sunny competence and determination guided her work here with students and faculty as well as her struggle with illness these past years,” said Roach. “We are consoled knowing that she is finally at peace.”