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Building a Bridge

Among the memories Judy Curran ’57 has of her years at Notre Dame are the math classes she had with Sr. Cleophas. “She was a wonderful, intelligent woman who expected you to succeed,” Curran recalled.

Along with fellow alumnae Dorothy Power ’53 and Kathleen Kendel ’98, Judy is serving as an instructional advisor in the College’s Academic Support Center for Students with Learning Differences (ASC).

Judy Curran '57To ASC director Gretchen Walsh, there is great value in having the trio of alumnae working for the Center that goes beyond their professional expertise. “In many ways they bring the best of the College’s past and present together,” she said. “They understand how the College’s mission can really direct a student’s life at the College and understand how important personal attention can be for a student’s success.”

As a student, Judy was a product of these small classes. One of only three math majors at the College, she went on to have a 34-year career as a teacher in the Cleveland, Euclid and Shaker Heights school districts. “We were very lucky to have a Ph.D. teaching just the three of us. You’d never see that now,” she said. “I’m grateful for the good education I received from NDC and Sr. Cleophas. It gave me a Building a Bridge lot of confidence, and I want to continue that with the students in the ASC, telling them ‘You can do this!’”

Dorothy Power is also very positive about being a part of the Academic Support Center team. “I like it here,” she said. “We have excellent instructors, although they aren’t all teachers. There are lawyers and engineers as well.”

Dorothy’s background in teaching includes classroom experience as well as building reading programs at area colleges and universities. She started a highly successful adult literacy program at Case Western Reserve University and created a developmental reading program for students at Cuyahoga Community College’s East Campus.

Dorothy Power '53She earned several honors for her accomplishments. She was named a master teacher by the University of Texas at Austin. She also received awards from Upward Bound and from Minority Engineering at Case. But accolades pale beside her commitment to family. “I have six children and 15 grandchildren. To me, that’s more important than anything else!”

As the most recent graduate, Kathleen also brings a wealth of experience and insight to the Center. Although she entered Notre Dame at the age of 46, Kathleen more than succeeded in overcoming the challenges of going to school as an adult student. “It was challenging and sometimes I wondered if I could handle it, but I did and graduated Summa Cum Laude.”

After graduation, with an English degree in hand, she and her husband visited Eastern Arizona to teach at the White Mountain Apache Reservation. Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned. “We arrived at the reservation, but found out that my husband and I had breathing problems and could not stay at that kind of an altitude,” she recalled.

After returning to Cleveland, she came across an article on the Academic Support Center in an issue of Notre Dame Today magazine. “I decided to call Gretchen Walsh, and she brought me in for an interview.”

Kathy had previously taught in the adult basic literacy program for Euclid City Schools, and tutored privately at Gilmour Academy.

As enrollment in the ASC surged to 65 students in August 2008, Kathleen was hired as an instructional advisor. “It felt like old times. I knew so many people from my time as a student, and I was thrilled to see professors like my mentor Dalma Takacs.”

As their educational experience comes full circle, these women, once mentored by the likes of Sr. Cleophas and Dalma Takacs, bridge the past and present at NDC. Perhaps one day one of their students from the ASC will return to the College to pass on the very best of Notre Dame’s legacy.

Steve Ruic is the writer and editor at Notre Dame College.