Hidden Figures of Lawrence: Ann Parmentier

Lead Custodian Ann Parmentier.
Photo by Hannah Burgess.

Although snow during spring sometimes makes me blue, it is nice to venture out to Warch and see friendly, familiar faces. This week’s hidden figure is hard working and full of life. I met her at the performing arts scene shop while she was taking class. Ann Parmentier is the lead custodian at Warch Campus Center. Some students may catch her working from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. while others may know her as a fellow student.

Parmentier collaborates with six other custodians in communications, scheduling, executing work orders and figuring out vacation time. “I try to keep the place in best condition as I possibly can,” commented Parmentier. She attended two years of college, is an alum of Lawrence and took courses at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in Menasha. She will have worked at Lawrence nine years this June.

Her favorite part of working at Lawrence is being able to take interesting classes. She has been attending classes mostly at the Music and Performing Arts Conservatory as long as she has been working. This term she is taking Set Design with Keith Pitts.

This will be her 19th class. Her strength is in music and drama, specifically costume design. She has been doing costume design for most of her life. She had to take a break from costume design when she was studying psychopharmacology, but after she dropped out, rediscovered her passion. “That is where my heart is and I feel at home in that element,” adds Parmentier.

The “Lawrence Difference,” according to Parmentier, is that “the faculty at Lawrence take their job to heart and support their advisees beyond their years at Lawrence. That is an awesome thing.”

In addition, Parmentier admires the ambition Lawrentians have to change the world. “They have yet to meet the road blocks the generation before them has encountered and are bound and determined to make a difference. The other important thing is the incredible talent we have here, so many of our students are going to make a name for themselves because they are that good!”

Outside of Lawrence, Parmentier enjoys various activities such as gardening, sewing and quilting. She also owns a cottage up north and enjoys taking hikes, being outside and spending time with her three children.

Two of her children graduated from Lawrence and are currently pursuing their master’s degrees at UW-Madison. Her youngest is studying to become a pharmacist at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Parmentier loves to travel as well. She loves Alaska, as she has been there four times and will be there for her fifth time this summer. “It is a beautiful state, the mountains make you feel insignificant and the landscape is awesome!” adds Parmentier. She also loves Europe and plans on going to Italy in the fall of 2019 when her daughter finishes her PhD in Pharmacy.

Prior to working at Lawrence, Parmentier owned her own embroidery and sewing business, worked in a paper mill and knitting mill and made baskets for a local grocery store. Through her job, Parmentier has learned how little respect people have for one another. “People are condescending and have little respect for custodians or people who pick up after them, which is upsetting in today’s world,” Parmentier expounded.

Despite how she is sometimes treated, Parmentier wants people to know it does not get to her. “I’m a fun, nice person. I very much like to get joy out of life.”

When asked what she has been sewing recently, Parmentier responded, “I am working on a quilt for my daughter, Stevi, using a picture my daughter, Andi, took of Polychrome Pass in Denali National Park, Alaska. Other projects I have worked on have been mending clothes and doing alterations for students. In fact, the suit Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, Jake Woodford, wore for his interview for the job he now has at Lawrence, I did the alterations on.”

When asked about her inspiration, Ann replied, “I am inspired by people who lead by example, do good things for others and try to better people’s lives.”

Parmentier is someone who betters people’s lives by making Warch a clean and comfortable home away from home for students and safe space for faculty, staff and alumni. She is also intellectually curious and that is inspiring to students who come to Lawrence. We should appreciate that she is someone we can expect to see every day with a warm and positive attitude.