By Kevin Gary, Alumni Relations Assistant
Sandra A. Sharr ’69 became the Director of Legal Affairs for the state of Connecticut’s Department of Correction in 2005. A tremendously prestigious position to be sure but not one she may have predicted she would find herself in during her time at Rosemont, despite considering the law as a career as early as high school. “Career paths are rarely a straight line,” she says, “We never know what opportunities lay ahead of us at any point in time.”
Sharr recalls her upbringing as fairly sheltered. She attended a small Catholic girls high school and rarely traveled. She credits Rosemont with helping to expand the scope of her world. She recalls, “Attending Rosemont was the first time I had left home… Rosemont was the right size and presented the right opportunities for me at that time… I think I would have been totally lost at a big university. It would have seemed so impersonal.”
At Rosemont she found an environment that allowed her to feel nurtured which naturally facilitated learning. She was able to explore what the college offered, picking and choosing what appealed to her. She lists some her fondest memories of Rosemont as, “small classes, intellectual challenges, many friendships, and all that goes with attending a small college in a beautiful, bucolic setting surrounded by many other colleges in a region filled with historical significance and numerous cultural offerings.” She recalls a Spanish teacher offering a valuable piece of advice couched within a seemingly innocuous comment on fashion. “[She scolded] me for wearing browns. As a redhead, I always thought I looked good in brown and I explained this to her. Her response was that I wore browns because I did not want to be noticed. The message there was her version of, ‘Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket.’ I was and remain grateful for the lesson.”
After graduation, Sharr was excited to begin her career in earnest and parlayed her experience as yearbook editor into a job as an editor at a life insurance firm in Hartford, CT. Following that she worked in Corporate Relations Department. She cites her desire for new challenges as her motivation to try new things professionally. It was this drive that also lead her to attend the University of Connecticut Law School in her 40s. “It was harder than I had expected. At this point, I was running a small unit, Community Affairs,” she remembers, “So most days consisted of work, run to campus, grab a meal off the truck, attend class (stay awake), and home. Saturdays were for homework and Sundays for everything else.”
Post law school, Sharr began working as staff attorney at for Connecticut’s Department of Administrative Services. It was here where a chance opportunity and her need to always face new challenges combined to land her in the position she holds today. “In early 2005, the Commissioner of Correction approached my Commissioner for assistance in responding to a thorny employee complaint… I was “loaned” to the Department of Corrections to respond to the complaint. She liked my work and had been looking for someone to provide in-house counsel services… She asked if I would like to join the agency. I initially said no because at that time my parents had various health issues. However, she was persistent and a few months later asked me to review a number of resumes. After doing so, I realized that the timing was better for me. I told her I felt that I was the best candidate. And, as the clichéd saying goes, ‘the rest is history’.”
Today, Sharr continues to believe strongly in the work she is doing with the Department of Correction. She stresses that her work strives to prevent problems rather than simply try and fix them after they’ve already occurred. She finds her work both fascinating and rewarding and is proud to be making a difference.