“For so many students Moraine becomes their village, their family–to really provide that foundation and encouragement to succeed.”
Dr. Linda Brandt has been with Moraine Valley Community College for 42 years. She feels it is an honor and privilege to watch students grow. Administration, faculty, and staff at the college are all working toward the same mission and goal of having an important impact on people’s lives.
“I think we’re very innovative here at the college.”
Dr. Wally Fronczek has been at Moraine Valley Community College for 32 years. He began his work here in Student Activities and has had the opportunity to do many different things and be involved in a variety of projects. He recalls lots of exciting events on campus, including respected guest speakers and big name performances.
“What we focused on was making sure the community knew they could get a quality education here.”
Former Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. John Donahue speaks about the college’s 25 year plan and how the college has become a tremendous asset for the suburban community. A good board, teachers who care about their students, and quality education are reflected in a great student body.
“I loved the job. I thought that was really important–especially to be a role model to young women because when I joined the Biology department I was the only woman.”
Lenette Staudinger was a professor of Biology here for 32 years. She tells about some of the creativity involved in putting classes together in the college’s early days, like stocking the Botany classes with discarded plants from the cemetery. The college has grown and progressed so much and she is proud that Moraine Valley has done so well.
During Women’s History Month this year, and as part of the college’s 50th Anniversary celebration, the MVCC Library hosted a panel discussion that highlighted stories of women who have played a very large part in Moraine Valley’s history. All of these women were or have been with the college for decades. Dr. Sharon Fritz and Lenette Staudinger were members of the original faculty body. Dr. Linda Brandt has been with the college for over 40 years. Dr. Sylvia Jenkins has been with us for over 30 years and is the college’s first female president. Dr. Margaret Lehner is the college’s longest serving tenured employee.
They share stories of their memories of Moraine Valley and share their unique perspectives as women who have seen the college grow and progress. Earlier administrations were not as supportive of women and things really began to change in the 80s. The campus has seen great advancements and now has many women in leadership positions who enjoy serving as role models for young women. Women at this campus show each other that we can do this.
“Moraine Valley changed me…it made me think differently about school.”
For 13 years, Vazquez-Zwick has had “wonderful experiences” assisting students from some of the college’s most vulnerable populations. Her first decade at Moraine Valley was spent helping ESL and GED students. “I told those students all the time they should be proud that they came from another country without knowing English,” she said. Her favorite experience at Moraine Valley has been greeting students who need assistance in the Counseling and Career Center. More than anything, Moraine Valley has changed her analytical, black and white banking background into a welcoming environment with people and warm personalities.
“Most every time our students performed made me proud.”
Wulle discusses the early days of the college, specifically the layout of campus buildings, classrooms without walls and the interdisciplinary team-teaching class structure. She recalls the only faculty strike that occurred at Moraine Valley and shares insight into life as a faculty member. She, along with two other theater faculty, produced, directed or acted in 100 plays on campus from 1975 until the Fine and Performing Arts Center opened in 1994, which they were instrumental in helping to design. They also created the outdoor Shakespeare Theater that continues every summer.
“All you had to do was say you can’t do it, and we would do it, and we would find the funding to do it.”
Andersen and Walsh discuss the Oak Lawn Rotary’s role in creating Moraine Valley Community College and each of their roles in starting the Foundation, which built the Fine and Performing Arts Center and was responsible for many “terrific” events that benefited the college: Children’s Fair, scholarship program, 2006 referendum passage, innovation grants for faculty/staff, golf driving range, to name a few.
“This school is fantastic. It was a great experience, and that’s why we stayed so long.”
Pietryla and Schneegas discuss the creation of the Physical Education department at Moraine Valley. Without a gym or building to use, they offered a lot of outdoor activities and used facilities in the neighboring communities, including a pool at Little Company of Mary Hospital, county parks for softball games and local bowling alleys. The pair also started the first fitness center in Building G and invited organizations such as Special Olympics, Elim School and Pine Manor Nursing Home to bring their clients to campus for recreation.
“I’m proud to be a part of this institution and am very grateful for everything it has done for me.”
Helmold discusses the role Moraine Valley has played in his life for 50 years, including community member, student, faculty and staff member. As a youth, he played tennis on campus at night with his sisters. Ten years later, he enrolled in classes, and 10 years after that, he was hired as a help desk technician. He’s been here ever since and shares how technology has changed over those decades.