Graduating senior found ‘second mom’ in campus job supervisor

By Jan Lucas on May 17, 2019

Courtney Spangler '19 will have former boss Marge Perrera in her cheering section at Commencement

teacher intern Courtney Spangler
College of Education graduate Courtney Spangler '19 teaches elementary school students during her internship.

Sitting in a cubicle answering incoming telephone calls probably isn’t the most exciting student job at Towson University, but Courtney Spangler loved it.

“I used the time between calls to complete assignments,” says the soon-to-graduate elementary education major from Rising Sun, Maryland.

“And the flexible scheduling allowed me to concentrate on school.”

But the major reason she loved going to her part-time job in TU’s Administration Building —though she didn’t know it at the outset—would be her supervisor, Marge Perrera.

Perrera, who’s been in charge of TU’s telephone operations since 1999, did much more than teach Spangler how best to handle callers’ requests (and occasional gripes). Over three years, she also provided the warmth and encouragement that helped her student worker get through some of life’s rough patches.

Marge and Courtney
Marge Perrera and Courtney Spangler

As the mother of two grown children and proud grandmother of three, Perrera brings a wealth of empathy and nurturing skills—plus unflagging good humor—to her position. It was just what Spangler needed midway through her freshman year.

“I was super nervous when I interviewed with Marge, but we had a great conversation and she made me feel very comfortable,” she recalls.

“Her greatest quality was in being flexible,” Spangler continues. “Marge understood that classwork came first, and she was so supportive when it came to scheduling. That was huge.”

Perrera also doubled as a life coach. “I’d come in, sit in her cube and we’d have our ‘therapy session,’” says Spangler with a laugh. “I could talk about everything with Marge, and I always felt welcome and loved.”

As Commencement approached, Perrera assured Spangler that she’d view the ceremony as she always did: via TU’s livestreaming service. “I liked to watch my former student workers walk across the stage,” Perrera explains. “I’d remind them that I’d be watching and to make me proud.

“But when I said that to Courtney, she didn’t say anything.”

Unbeknownst to Perrera, Spangler was determined to have her former boss see her stride across the Commencement stage in person. She reached out to Louise Miller, TU assistant vice president for university promotions and events, to ask for an extra ticket. Miller not only found the ticket, but volunteered to drive Perrera to SECU Arena for the May 22 ceremony.

Perrera was stunned when Spangler extended the invitation. “Courtney wrote the nicest little note that said she couldn’t bear to have me watch her graduate on livestream,” she says.

I could talk about everything with Marge, and I always felt welcome and loved. ”

Courtney Spangler

It was a generous gift, considering the scarcity of tickets. “I have a drawer filled with cards and letters from my student workers,” Perrera says, “but she’s the first one to invite me to Commencement.

“Courtney’s a real people person,” Perrera continues. “That’s what made her so good at her job.

“I took her under my wing, professionally and personally, and she became my campus daughter.”

Spangler adds, “She’s my second mom and one of my best friends. There’s no way that I can’t have her there.”

Not only will Perrera see her “campus daughter” graduate in person, but she’ll also celebrate afterward with the newly minted TU alumna’s parents. “They’ve heard so much about Marge and they want to get to know her,” Spangler says.

“I can never replace Courtney,” Perrera says with a sigh. “I’ll cry so hard when she graduates.”