Meet Sister Linda Herndon
Her journey to monastic life
Sister Linda Herndon didn’t attend a Catholic school and knew nothing about religious sisters, but the vocation “seed” was planted when her CCD class visited Mount St. Scholastica. As a high school freshman, she wrote to the Mount for information about monastic life. Sister Agnes Haganey responded and invited her to visit again.
Later, she contacted Sister Mary Elizabeth Schweiger, Mount vocation director at the time, asking all kinds of questions about religious life. When she entered the Benedictine monastery in 1976, Sister Linda knew fewer than 20 sisters out of a community of more than 400.
Why a Benedictine sister?
“I loved the idea of taking a vow of stability,” she said. “Our family had moved a lot while I was growing up and I liked knowing this would be my home forever.”
Her day job
Sister Linda is associate academic dean and registrar at Benedictine College here in Atchison. Her duties include maintaining the academic integrity of the institution, approving all internships and independent studies, hearing appeals related to academic courses, entering class schedules and making room assignments, ensuring that students meet the requirements for graduation, and certifying eligibility for student athletes.
“Sister Linda is the second-highest ranking academic administrator at the college, and she is absolutely invaluable,” said Kim Shankman, academic dean. “She may have the hardest job on campus, because it’s the highest-level job for which you still have tons and tons of day-to-day responsibilities. And all this was before she took on the role of co-chair of the Ellucian Colleague project, installing an entirely new administrative software system. So her job in that role involves overseeing and making decisions related to virtually every function of the college, including recruiting students, billing, financial aid, and student life. Her skill and dedication are remarkable!”
What she likes best about her work
“The most rewarding part of my job is helping students who dropped out without a degree to find ways to finish their degree,” Sister Linda said. “I enjoy finding ways to make things work when students don’t know how. The hardest part of my job is telling students they failed a class and don’t have enough credits to graduate.”
Sister Linda enjoys serving as chaplain for the women’s soccer team which qualified for the national tournament the last two years, ending in the final four in 2015. The past two years she accompanied the team to the tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama. She also attends Benedictine’s basketball and football games and takes a turn at offering a prayer at athletic events.
How she folds her Benedictine values into her work
“I try to listen well to students, faculty, and staff, and to be compassionate and understanding. Also, building community among office staff is important to me.”
She finds strength and support from community prayer and sharing the common life with her sisters.
Before she became an administrator …
Sister Linda holds a PhD in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis in educational communication and technology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MS in computer science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
She taught computer science and mathematics at Benedictine College, starting in the fall of 1989 and continuing until she became the Associate Dean.