As we continue to celebrate a century of boarding at Darlington, it's impossible not to be captivated by the stories and experiences that have shaped the lives of countless individuals. Among them stands Maurie Dugger (’94, LD ’14), a four-year boarding alum whose journey epitomizes the essence of connection, growth, and the transformative power of a boarding school education.
Maurie came to Darlington as a freshman from Valdosta, Ga. Her brother, Howard (’91), was a senior. "He played football and was very cool, in my eyes, so of course I followed him to Darlington,” said Maurie. One of her most vivid memories about boarding school with her brother involves the popular student hangout location under the breezeway between Wilcox and Porter. “I saw my brother out on the breezeway with a bunch of senior football players and I thought, ‘here’s my chance,'" she said. "I looked good in my new Laura Ashley dress (it was the early 90s) and shoes, so out the doors I went to impress these guys. On the walkway, I slipped and fell on my backside. Much to my chagrin, instead of helping me, my brother acted like he’d never met me before and he just walked away! Needless to say, that's not the impression I was trying to make with these cute senior guys.”
But Maurie overcame that humbling experience and made her own mark at Darlington. Excelling in four different sports -- basketball, volleyball, soccer and track -- she earned a total of 16 varsity letters. Quite impressive by any standards. Her favorite teachers were Eddie Guth, who coached her; Kim Jones, who taught her and was an important part of her dorm life; and Sam Moss ('63), who helped her make her college decision to attend Hollins College in Virginia.
Maurie also served as an RA and remembers some unique boarding school memories of Sunday afternoons with the phone ringing at the end of the hall and someone calling out “Maurie, your mom’s on the phone.” Another is of her and her roommate falling asleep each night to Billy Joel’s "Uptown Girl." Also the memory of the monthly formal dinners. “They were a special and unique time for the entire boarding community to gather. I loved those meals,” she said.
She remembers on one occasion at a formal dinner when Desert Storm broke out and they had the televisions on for students to watch the news. That experience and others at Darlington sparked her interest in wanting to make a public service impact with her career path. After Hollins, Maurie went on to a varied and interesting career in politics in Washington, D.C., working with the United States House of Representatives, the Republican National Committee, and the George W. Bush administration as a lobbyist for the Edison Electric Institute and Aflac. In 2016, she moved to Florida and now works for Visit Amelia Island as director of program development, directly impacting her community.
Lessons in personal responsibility and service she took from Darlington helped shape Maurie’s decision to become a foster parent and eventually adopt two beautiful girls, Peyton (10) and Charlotte (7). “Being a mother to these bright and wonderful children is such an amazing experience,” she said.
Maurie still has very strong ties to her friends from Darlington. “We refer to ourselves as the Zoo Crew," she said. Classmates Mary Walker Goddard, Amy Chan, Charlotte Compton and Maurie still get together as often as they can. “I cherish these lifelong friendships that were made in the dorms at Darlington."
Her advice for young alumni is to “find a path greater than you,” “don’t be afraid to fail” and, lastly, “take the trip - travel and see the world.”
Maurie has served Darlington through the years as a class agent, Career Day speaker, Alumni Council member, and Darlington Fund supporter. She is happy to make a connection with anyone interested in a career in public service.