With a fulfilling career spanning four decades, Elizabeth Osta is a distinguished educator and award-winning author of several books and essays. At the start of her career, she received a Bachelor of Science in speech correction from Nazareth College in 1967, followed by a Master of Science in education from the State University of New York. Ms. Osta then served a long and successful tenure as a staff training development specialist in the Rochester City School District for the New York State Education Department between 1977 and 2001. She then became a visiting instructor at Nazareth College, teaching history and philosophy of education.
Ms. Osta’s writing career commenced with the publication of her first book, “Jeremiah’s Hunger” in 2011. The story takes place during the Great Hunger in Ireland and is about her great-grandfather’s quest for survival after having to bury his baby sister and mother in County Cork. Ms. Osta’s second book, “Saving Faith: A Memoir of Courage, Conviction, and a Calling,” was released in 2017 and journeys back to her time as a sister of St. Joseph in the 1960s and 1970s during times of controversy and activism. Including many of her own personal stories about faith and service, her book addresses spirituality, education and Catholicism.
In addition to writing, Ms. Osta has also edited a book entitled, “Life Shifts: Essays of Hope,” published in 2019, which speaks to those diagnosed with cancer. As a breast cancer survivor herself, she recounts the feeling of uncertainty that follows diagnosis and includes stories from those brave women and men, survivors and caretakers who have found solace, wisdom, and optimism for the future.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Osta developed a video called “Anybody’s Child, Everybody’s Children,” which she recounts as a memorable career achievement and a team effort completed during the 1990s about stemming gun violence. She also brought speakers to town as part of the project.
To acknowledge her writing achievements, Ms. Osta was nominated for Best Book by City Newspaper in 2018, received an honorary mention from Big Brick Review, and was presented with writing awards from Writers & Books in Rochester, including the Big Pencil Award in 2014. She was also the recipient of a Democrat and Chronicle Golden Pen Award and the Amelia Book Island Literary Award for Non-Fiction for her book “Saving Faith” in 2018. Moreover, she was bestowed with an Outstanding Alumni Award from Nazareth College. Ms. Osta believes that she was born to write, attributing her success to her love for storytelling and writing.
Among such accolades and accomplishments, Ms. Osta also had the opportunity to serve as a reader for the Writers & Books Genesee Reading Series, based in Rochester, New York, and now in its 40th year. The book series is one of the numerous public programs delivered by Writers & Books, which seeks to promote a lifelong passion for reading and writing for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Honored to have been part of numerous notable writing endeavors, Ms. Osta advises aspiring writers to “trust your heart and your art.”
Outside of the writing world, Ms. Osta remains active in her local community through membership with the First Universalist Church of Rochester, where she serves on the First Universalist Initiative for Racial Equity, and the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, who honored her with a Woman of the Year Award in 2018. Actively involved with the Irish American Cultural Institute, she previously served as president of the Rochester, New York, chapter and was granted the prestigious Eoin McKiernan Achievement Award. Ms. Osta served on the United Nations Association of Rochester board and remains an active member. She is a past member of the Funeral Consumers Association of Greater Rochester and has also served on the scholarship committee of the Alberta Moss Scholarship Fund.
Looking toward the future, Ms. Osta aspires to begin writing about the outgrowth of the new Minister Franklin D. Florence Civil Rights Heritage Site, which is located at Baden Park, on the city’s northeast side, in Rochester. She has been instrumental in helping to sell legacy bricks for the park’s walkway to highlight the many heroes of the Black freedom struggle. In addition, Ms. Osta is currently in the process of writing “Maggie’s Brood,” which she first began writing when she was 7 years old. The story tells the tale of the struggles and strength of her grandmother as she emigrated from Ireland and ultimately raised her 12 children in Lima, New York.
After spending nearly 10 years as a sister of St. Joseph in Rochester, Ms. Osta married her husband, Dave, on her 50th birthday. A retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander and software engineer, she describes him as the love of her life. They reside on the Eire Canal in Fairport and enjoy visits from their twin grandsons.