In Memoriam: Beth Bouchard

In+Memoriam%3A+Beth+Bouchard

Charles Beers, News Editor

The University community mourns the loss of Beth Bouchard. Bouchard passed away on Dec. 5 after her long and courageous battle with cancer came to an end.

Bouchard left behind an incalculable legacy on campus. As the University’s Director of New Student Orientation (NSO) and Student Leadership Programs, Bouchard aided generations of students in their collegiate transitions by overseeing NSO activities and programs.

Dean of Students Amy Badal, one of Bouchard’s good friends on campus, recalled Bouchard’s first days working at the University.

“I hired Beth six and a half years ago to serve as the director of the New Student Orientation Program,” Badal said. Bouchard arrived at the University in 2010 from Rider University, at which point she served as the Director of the First-Year Experience.

Badal expressed her admiration for Bouchard’s character and commitment to all students.

“Simply stated, Beth was one of the kindest people I have ever known. Her heart was pure 24 karat gold. She had an unassuming presence that was gentle and a smile that was magnetic,” Badal said.

Adored by faculty and staff alike, Bouchard garnered several accolades for her service to the community. In the 2015-2016 academic year, Bouchard won Advisor of the Year for her leadership in the improvisational comedy group, We Brake for Nobody. This recognition continued in April 2016, when The Bucknellian named Bouchard as the Faculty/Staff of the Year for all of her contributions in making the first-year experience a memorable one.

However, these awards fail to capture the true love the community had for Bouchard. Past and present NSO leaders and assistants were eager to share their memories working with Bouchard and the impact she had on their lives as both a mentor and a friend.

“I had the absolute honor of working with Beth as an OL for two years, an experience I would not trade for anything,” one of Bouchard’s “O-Staff” Alex Golden ’17 said.

Golden emphasized her generosity.

“Anytime I was having a rough day, she would put aside whatever she was doing and let me hide out in her office for hours. She always put others first,” Golden said.

James Richardson ’17 worked closely with Bouchard first as the Assistant Orientation Coordinator and more recently as the Orientation Coordinator. He echoed this theme of selflessness.

“Beth always went above and beyond to make sure everyone around her was as happy and comfortable as they could be,” Richardson said. “She displayed her passion and warm heartedness to every person that walked into her office and taught them how they could do the same to the people that they encountered. She was and will continue to be a source of wisdom for anyone who was lucky enough to have met her,” Richardson said.

Bouchard shared countless lasting memories with her staff, experiences that have stuck with Orientation Leaders to this day. Golden recalled Bouchard’s sense of humor.

“I have a distinct memory of hanging out with her at the Chrysalis chocolate fountain two years in a row, because, as she put it, melted chocolate is clearly the best part of any event,” Golden said.

News of Bouchard’s passing was hard-hitting to all those who worked with her.

“[I am] lucky to have known her, and to carry a bit of her spirit in my heart every day,” Sage Maggi ’18 said.

A memorial service in honor of Bouchard’s life was held on Dec. 10 in Rooke Chapel with a reception afterwards in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. The turnout from the NSO staff was a testament to the impact she had on the University. The chapel was filled with students and alumni who donned the iconic orange O-Staff t-shirts that first-years and all members of the campus community have come to recognize as a staple of NSO.

At the service, there were “about 40 to 50 past Orientation Leaders and Orientation Coordinators, plus the ones that are currently still at Bucknell. A large majority of this year’s OAs came and then probably another 100 of former OAs,” Maggie Carlson ’18 said.

Badal contacted all of the staff that Bouchard had worked with over the past 10 years, which spread quickly through social media.

“The last thing Beth would have wanted was for us to all sit around and cry, so we tried to find a balance on what she would’ve wanted,” Carlson said. “Orientation is famous for our balloons, so we lined the pathway to Rooke Chapel and the Weis Center with three-foot white balloons with blue and orange ribbon, measured and curled just how Beth would want it,” Carlson said.

In addition to performances from a cappella groups Two Past Midnight and Beyond Unison, there were emotional speeches from the Bouchard family, Badal, and both current and former Orientation Coordinators.

“It was an awesome feeling to fill Rooke Chapel with so much love for Beth,” Carlson said.

If the memorial service and overwhelming response from the community are any indication, Bouchard’s warmth and passion for helping others will never be forgotten.

“Beth taught me that the beauty of life is often found in the small stuff, and that it is the people you surround yourself with and the community you create around you that make it all worth it. Imagining Bucknell without Beth is hard. But, as long as orientation is happening at Bucknell, I know Beth will be there. Even at five a.m. balloon duty,” Carlson said.

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