The depths of D’Luz

A booming laugh echoes throughout Dewey Hall, delightfully cheerful for a gray, snowy day. It’s as if the winter blues, which claim so many good moods and bubbling personalities in Vermont, could never touch the soul of Carolyn D’Luz.

When asked to describe herself using only one word, D’luz chose the word honest. “I feel that everyone should be treated equally, and if you are not honest, there is too much room for people to misunderstand you,” she said. “I often get confused by people, because they say one thing, but mean something else. I find that hard to decipher, and as a result, I’ve chosen to just be direct.”

D’Luz also says that she wandered through life never really knowing what she wanted to be when she grew up, and still doesn’t know. “I got to Johnson State by chance,” she said. “Before this I was at the Vermont Land Trust. My bachelor’s degree from [University of New Hampshire] is in horticulture and agronomy. I came to Vermont trying to look for agricultural work, but couldn’t afford to become a farmer. The land trust was good, but it’s important to recognize that not everybody has ambitions. Much of my life has been whatever I happened to fall into, and wherever I happened to be, and that works for me.”

Her husband, Rion, should be glad that D’Luz fell into the position with JSC, working as the staff assistant for the Academic Support Office, because her back-up career was being a nun.

Between practicing yoga and her favorite book being written by a rabbi, spirituality and understanding emotions have always been a large part of her life. The spiritual aspect of being a nun, thus, has appeal for D’Luz. While growing up, she was extremely sensitive to words, people’s attitudes, emotions, news, and her surroundings, and had to work to overcome emotional problems in her childhood.

Her greatest influence in life was her father, because he always helped sort out the emotions, and put everything into perspective. “I was able to go to my father to try to work things out,” said D’Luz. “I remember being in school, in fourth grade, and there were a couple of instances where bullying was happening to a female student. I didn’t know how to handle it and was feeling really sad for this person and what she was experiencing. I remember going home and talking to my father about it. He explained to me that sometimes things are unfair, and that what I could do was be kind to this person and reach out to her. I became her friend.”

Following her emotions and the words of her father, D’Luz found a love for helping people, which eventually led her to Johnson State College. With a degree in agronomy and horticulture, and not in counseling, it wouldn’t seem like mentoring would be the perfect fit, but looking at her past, and listening to the students and staff whom she has helped, there’s no question.

“Although her official title is ‘staff assistant,’ Carolyn’s duties and qualities go far beyond this,” said Clyde Stats, co-worker and assistant director of Academic Support. “She possesses an out-going personality and projects a naturally positive and friendly demeanor which draws people in and makes it easy for them to open up to her. She is exceptionally competent, reliable, congenial, and uncommonly, intellectually curious and active.”

There is no question that D’Luz loves her students, and many feel the same toward her. When Jeff Ketchum, Melissa Rixon, or any other student who desires a “Carolyn D’Luz hug” walks into the Academic Support Office, D’Luz runs out to greet them as the love for her students escapes her lips through a squeal of delight.

“The best part of my job is the students,” D’Luz says. “It feels really powerful to assist someone in something they really want to accomplish. So, if that means you have to go help them clean up something so that they can stay on campus, then you go do that. If it means giving someone a little cash so that they can buy some food, then you do that. Do whatever needs to happen to see that person succeed. Unfortunately, I’m not a millionaire, and am limited in what I can do, so working here has helped me be able to hook students up with resources and pass along wisdom. We have to teach students what the real world is like, and maybe that their behaviors don’t fit into that model.”

D’Luz said even some of her own behaviors have been misinterpreted in the past, as not fitting model behaviors, because people don’t understand the whole back story. So, it’s good to understand what people are going through before you judge them. D’Luz holds herself as an advocate for student success, and always tries to puts students first.

“Carolyn has helped me in both my academics and in my emotional well-being,” said student Sammie Gorton. “She is the most exciting, loving, entertaining and engaging person that I know. Trio would never be the same without her. I love walking into trio and hearing her laugh or yelling good morning and pouncing for a hug. She reminds me of a puppy, because she says and does the silliest things at the most random moments.  Everyone looks forward to the weekly reading of the horoscopes where she brings everyone together to read aloud, too.”

It wouldn’t be a rare sight to see D’Luz doubled over in laughter in the Academic Support Office, either from something she read, or even something she did in the present or the past. She even still laughs at the time when she was 8-years old, and had to walk half a mile to her house from the bus-stop, but ended up running.

“I had to go to the bathroom really bad, and it was winter,” she said. “I am half-way home and I am running because I just wanted to get home. I couldn’t hold it anymore, and wet my pants. I’m like ‘Oh my god.’ That was so embarrassing.”

D’Luz also remembers when she was in kindergarten, and her mother was teaching her to write her letters, she got so frustrated that she threw the pencil across the room and shouted, “I just can’t do it.”

Today, to get through frustrations, she no longer throws pencils, but instead picks up books. She throws the knowledge she gathers from books at the situation at hand to help make sense of it all.

Her current book of choice is “The Language of Emotions: What are your feelings trying to tell you?” by Rabbi Michael Learner.

“It goes back to the fact that I am so sensitive to things in my environment and wanting to create the best possible situation for people,” said D’Luz. “There is a lot of emotional energy in the process of understanding and being a compassionate person.”

The book teaches that emotions are a form of intelligence, and it helps to create boundaries when it comes to being involved in another person’s emotions. D’Luz says that she has to learn to let others own their emotions, and once she can do that, it will be easier to find ways in which she can help.

She operated under the principal that people are basically good, and if we remove the hardships that they face, all you’d see is good intentions.

“When you get to know somebody beyond the superficial, you can see their soul,” she says. “You can see their heart, and their goodness. Unfortunately there are circumstances in the world that prevent them from being that good person. Hardship exists in every class, and if we can remove that hardship, everybody has good intentions. Usually, if they’re not showing us their good side, they are either angry or afraid and just haven’t figured that out yet, but chances are there is goodness inside of them.”