in Albuquerque. Azariah went on to become a regional administrator for the Department of Children and Family Services, serving 37 years in the department’s largest office where she oversaw 360 social workers and investigators.
Q: What was it like growing up in Tucson, Ariz.?
A: It was wonderful and hot. We went swimming all the time. It had that western feel and we would even get out of school for the rodeo. I went to a Catholic high school, St. Joseph’s Academy, which is where I was introduced to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. They introduced me to the College. When I attended the Mount, I was an out-of-state student and I remember flying there on the airplane. It was the first time I had been away from home for an extended time.
Q: Was there a childhood memory that made an impact on you?
A: I was always close to my siblings, my brother Thomas and sister Victoria. They taught me how to ride a bicycle and swim and that kind of shaped the importance of being close to people. My father died when I was three, and my mother when I was a sophomore in college. But I’ll always remember my mother would tell me, ‘do the best you can.’ I guess that’s the childhood memory that resonated with me the most. You should always put your best foot forward.
Q: What activities were you involved in at the Mount?
A: I was president of the student body, a good fit for me since I was always interested in politics and how things ran. In high school I participated in drama and I was in plays at both St. Joseph’s and at the Mount.
Q: Why did you study history?
A: I loved it. It was my favorite subject in school. It was the study of man and their motivations of why they did things. I started out as a drama major, but then progressed to history because I loved learning about current events and people. I saw history as a study of people and their motivation and how the outside world affects them.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time at the Mount?
A: I remember when I was a freshman at the Mount there was the Bel Air fire. It burned down the sisters’ convent and we had to evacuate the dorm. Being an out-of-state student, I had to go stay with an in-town student’s family. When we got back to the dorm, there was water in the halls and we had to clean it up ourselves. Back then, we weren’t allowed to chew gum and as I was mopping, I was chewing gum. Sr. Rose de Lime saw me but she said, “You get a break this time!” It was during finals week and I had a final that I couldn’t go to and I was glad because I hadn’t studied for it!
Q: Who were your role models at the Mount?
A: Sr. Laurentia was a great role model, mentor and friend. She was in the English department and always gave me personal advice. She even helped type my senior thesis for me.
Q: Where did you begin working after school?
A: I worked for the Department of Children and Family Services. I started as a social worker knocking on doors, investigating child abuse and neglect. This was during the Watts Riots. I then supervised social workers and became an administrator until I retired.
Q: Did you get married?
A: Yes, I am married to Eric Azariah. We got in married in 1989 and this year is our 25th anniversary. I have one son from my prior marriage and my husband has a daughter from his prior marriage, and we consider both ours!
Q: Why do you choose to volunteer?
A: I have always been interested in public services and giving back. I love children and I teach Sunday school at church. I love to work with children and their healthy development, and that’s been a theme all throughout my working life and private life. I volunteer at my church as an usher, deacon and as a Sunday school teacher. I’m on the Mount’s alum board. And I also volunteer at the House of Ruth, a Los Angeles shelter for battered and homeless women located in East L.A. I have been helping them for 13 years.
Q: Which of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
A: Personally, I am most proud of raising a child, and being married to a wonderful husband for 25 years. The most satisfaction professionally is rising from a social worker to a regional administrator. I’m also proud of my connection with the Mount. I am passionate about the power of women, which is why I went to Mount St. Mary’s. I was the first of my siblings to graduate from college, and the Mount is still so good about recruiting students who are the first to graduate from college in their families, and the Mount provides the tools to accomplish that.