Laurie Thompson, a Rocky Mountain College custodian, received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Intermountain Housing Officers after being nominated by RMC Residence Life last year.
Thompson has performed maintenance and custodial duties at Rocky for 15 years. She just started her 16th year last month.
Housing director Shaydean Saye spoke about Thompson saying, “RMC Residence Life nominated her for the AIMHO
award because of her positive attitude and drive to always do her best.”
“She continually shows she cares about students and their comfort and success at Rocky Mountain College,” continued Saye.
“We felt she wholeheartedly deserved this award and wanted to have her recognized for our region,” said Saye.
“AIMHO includes – Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Saskatchewan – so a very large geographic region of colleges and universities,” Saye continued.
“We were so proud to nominate her and ecstatic that she was selected for the award,” said Saye.
Thompson and her family moved from Great Falls to Billings in 2005. Her partner at the time saw an RMC custodial position advertised through the Billings Gazette online.
After applying, Thompson received a call from Joanne Bohlman, RMC’s facilities custodial manager, and later interviewed for the job.
“Our bank account was really bad,” Thompson recalled. “We went to Harvest Church up in the Heights and they were passing the bag. I only had seven bucks to this family’s name. And I had two little girls.” Thompson put the seven dollars in the offering and thought to herself, “here’s faith working.”
“I was like ‘ok God,’” said Thompson. “And I know you’re not supposed to challenge [God] but I was like here we go. Joanne called Tuesday and on Thursday I had a job.”
Thompson has been with Rocky ever since.
“He’s [God’s] teaching me something,” said Thompson.
“I clean everything across the board here. This job has really humbled me. I fought with so much in myself with this job. You get to see a lot of gross and a lot of stupid, like I can’t believe a human did this.”
In over a decade of custodial work, Thompson has seen it all from apples stuck in toilets to peanut butter and tacos smeared on walls among other more offensive messes.
Thompson indicated students have gotten better over the years.
“It just keeps getting better and better,” said Thompson.
“If you really want to hear how Rocky has changed, Joanne is the woman for you. She remembers going into Anderson and it would be knee-high with beer bottles and throw up. Anderson had tile floors so she had to mop everyday.”
Regardless, Thompson enjoys working for the college.
“Working here though is wonderful,” she said.
“Nobody is over my shoulder. None of the bosses have ever been over our shoulders looking. It’s a lot of integrity and just being an honest person doing what you need to do. You were hired to clean, so clean.”
Growing up around Rocky, Thompson’s children have been immersed in RMC traditions.
“My little ones have been raised around that all their lives now,” said Thompson.
“I have three daughters and one actually works here at nighttime as a custodian.”
“My 17-year-old worked here last summer. Next year, God willing, my 17-year-old will be here doing aviation, unless she changes her mind again,” Thompson laughed.
Speaking on her work ethic, Thompson said, “I clean it as if Christ himself is going to use that toilet. I’m sure he doesn’t have to, but that’s how I look at it.”
“They always had me up in Prescott doing the President’s sink. Not this President [Wilmouth]. It was one president ago [Michael Mace]. I always called that clean the presidential shine, just getting the chrome looking good and stuff like that,” continued Thompson.
“‘Make sure it’s real shiny, this is for the President.’ I get to Anderson and I’m like, well why not do the same for these guys?”
“When I got here, it took two custodians to do Anderson Hall and one to do Widenhouse,” continued Thompson.
“I do both of them now.” What used to take three people to do, Thompson does it all.
“Rocky’s been there all these years,” said Thompson.
“The professors have never made me feel less than them. It doesn’t matter what your title is, as long as you’re happy, you live a good life, and you treat people well. That’s what I do,” she said.
“I wake up every morning and I ask God, let me be someone’s blessing.”
Thompson loves interacting with students and has watched hundreds of RMC freshmen develop over the course of their college careers.
“I can’t even get through a graduation without tearing up,” said Thompson.
“I’ve seen each one of you guys come in as freshmen and I’ve watched everybody mature.”
“Thanks for being respectful. I see students and people being respectful to each other in such a small area. They keep being kind. At the end of the year, you have to always clean it like you mean it. Your dorm room, when you go to leave it, clean it like you mean it. That helps us so much.”
Thompson’s office is located in Anderson Hall Room 124. If you see her around campus, take a moment to say hello.