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Patricia "Patty" Rawlings, the Administrative Assistant for Haverford CAPS. Photo courtesy of Haverford College.

Faces of the Ford: Patricia Rawlings

Editor’s note: This is an installment in a series of staff profiles meant to help the community get to know some of the different staff members that we see every day. If you are interested in writing a piece on a staff member or have someone you would like to see profiled, please let us know by emailing

This week, I sat down with Patricia “Patty” Rawlings, the administrative assistant for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Haverford. We discussed Patty’s job, her personal background, and how she has witnessed student attitudes surrounding therapy change, having worked at Haverford for 24 years. 

What does a normal day look like as the CAPS Administrative Assistant? 

Patty’s days consist of answering student emails, maintaining the daily calendars of CAPS staff, and greeting staff and students as they walk through the door of CAPS in Stokes Suite 203. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

“The students,” Patty said, without hesitation. “Getting to know the students.”

While Patty is always available to answer questions regarding CAPS, she says that most of her interactions revolve around discussing students’ lives, from hobbies to their siblings and hometowns. It’s important to Patty to greet every student by name and say “goodbye” and “have a great week,” when they leave. She says she tries to make students feel as comfortable as she can. 

Where did you grow up? What drew you to Haverford?

Patty’s roots are deeply intertwined with Haverford; she grew up in Havertown, and her mother worked at Haverford for 34 years, first for the Director of Athletics, then as a secretary for the Psychology Department and the Provost, and finally as the Executive Assistant to the Vice President of Institutional Advancement. Patty described fond memories of growing up on campus, attending staff picnics and basketball games in the old Ryan Gym before the fieldhouse’s construction. Patty has witnessed the campus’s evolution throughout her childhood and 24 years as CAPS Administrative Assistant, recalling the building of Whitehead Campus Center and other important campus landmarks. 

“That’s what drew me here. Literally growing up here.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

Patty enjoys crafting, including making wreaths, signs, and flower arrangements. She also loves traveling and spending time with her friends and grandchildren, who live nearby.  

What made you decide to work in mental health?

“The mental health thing just happened to fall into my lap,” Patty said. “But I was always interested in mental health,” she clarified. “I was always a people person.”

Initially hired as an administrative assistant for both CAPS and Haverford’s former community service office, 8th Dimension, Patty expressed appreciation to Marilou Allen and Richard Webb, directors of these departments, for giving her the opportunity. 

“I had no secretarial experience whatsoever,” she explained. “I was a single mom with five kids, and I needed a job.”

As time progressed, 8th Dimension transitioned into The Marilou Allen Office of Service and Community Collaboration, while CAPS underwent substantial growth, expanding from a staff of eight to approximately thirty-five members, including independent contractors.

How have you seen attitudes surrounding mental health and therapy change at Haverford over time? 

“Drastically,” Patty stated. 

When she first started, therapy was not as socially acceptable as it is today. She recalls rarely speaking to students in the waiting room. Instead, students would enter the door and sit down, avoiding eye contact with her and other students. Furthermore, to avoid being seen, they would usually enter and exit through the back stairs of Founders Hall, where the original office was located. Now, the students confidently enter the CAPS waiting room through the front door and start talking with one another. Although Patty says she does not initiate discussions with students outside of the office, she finds many students initiating conversations with her. According to Patty, these changes are indicative of the progress made in destigmatizing mental health.

I’ve heard that CAPS still has a private staircase exit in the back. Do you know when/why the staircase was built? Do people still use it now? 

While some students choose to use the private staircase connected to the CAPS office, Patty clarified that the staircase was not built for this purpose; it was always a part of the Stokes building, used by the Economics Department and IT before CAPS relocated there. Patty explained that although the students cannot enter CAPS from the back staircase, they are welcome to leave through the back door if that makes them more comfortable. 

What do you think students should know about CAPS and how to access its resources?

Patty says that the best way to access mental resources, including both weekly and one-time appointments, is on the CAPS website. Patty highlighted CAPS on-call services, open between 5 pm and 8 am and on the weekends, as a valuable option for students in need. Additionally, Patty encourages students who may be unsure about booking an appointment to approach her desk directly or reach out via email for guidance.

“Our mental health resources are free,” Patty remarked, comparing Haverford to other schools. “This is an awesome perk.”

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