Coming Home is Special for Notre Dame College Alumni

Monday, April 22, 2013

There’s something about the passage of time that puts things into perspective and brings certain memories into sharper focus. Those heightened memories were the source of warm smiles and spirited laughter for the more than 100 alumnae who attended the 2013 Notre Dame College Homecoming on the Staten Island campus of St. John’s University.

“It’s important to bring the graduates of Notre Dame College back to the campus where they experienced a period of growth in their lives as they pursued their education,” remarked Joan Mazza Dobis ’66NDC, President of the Notre Dame College Alumnae Association. “Their hearts and souls will always be here, and Homecoming is a great way for our alumnae to keep the connections that they have made. It’s also important for them to realize that St. John’s welcomes them with open arms. This campus was our home then, and because of St. John’s, it’s our home today.”

One of the ways in which the connection between Notre Dame College and St. John’s is maintained is through the Notre Dame College Alumnae Association Sr. Helen Flynn Scholarship Fund, created to assist students who have had a close relative who attended either Notre Dame College or the Staten Island campus of St. John’s. Every applicant’s academics and community involvement are rigorously scrutinized, and finalists are personally interviewed before a decision is made.

“The scholarship was established to keep Sr. Helen Flynn’s name and memory alive and well,” noted Scholarship Chairperson Maureen O’Brien ’62NDC. “We knew that she would want students who needed assistance to be given the opportunity to attend college, so we created a scholarship in her name to help students to attend St. John’s University on the Staten Island campus. The generosity of Notre Dame College alumni and friends has been incredible, and today our scholarship has resources of $1.3 million. And it’s nice that at every Homecoming, we get to meet the newest students selected to benefit from that generosity.”

One of the scholarship recipients in attendance at this year’s event was Julie Perosi, a Senior at Delaware Valley High School in Milford, PA. A future Accounting major in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, Perosi is grateful that her scholarship will allow her to concentrate on her studies and take greater advantage of the college experience at St. John’s without having to spend as much time working at part-time jobs.

“This scholarship is going to help me in so many ways,” she said, “and it was so nice that I was invited to be a part of the Notre Dame College Homecoming and personally thank these very generous women. It’s very special for me to realize that they are willing to help the new students like me succeed. St. John’s is such a warm and friendly place, and I know that it’s the perfect fit for me.”

One of the highlights of every Homecoming is the special recognition afforded to those alumnae who have returned to enjoy a special anniversary year. Although every milestone is significant, particular attention is always paid to those celebrating their 50th Anniversary.

Mary Armstrong ’63NDC served as Co-Chairperson for Class of 1963, and was especially pleased by the enthusiasm shown by her 50th Anniversary classmates.

“There was a great deal of interest among the alumnae from the Class of 1963,” she said. “There are only about 70 of us, and more than 30 are here today. That’s a great turnout! We had a very nice class, and though their lives have taken them to many different places over the years, they’ve always carried their love for Notre Dame and their fellow classmates with them.”

Even though not an anniversary year celebrant, Cecilia Suozzo ’55NDC regularly attends Homecoming as a way to maintain her ties to the people who have meant so much to her throughout he life. She recalled that when she began her college studies, there were significantly fewer opportunities for women seeking a higher education than there are today.

Suozzo is grateful that Notre Dame College was at the forefront of encouraging intelligent young women to use their talents in ways that are taken for granted today.

“Back in the early 1950s, it was nice to have educated women as role models, and the nuns filled that need very well,” she said. “They believed in us and inspired us to believe in ourselves. Notre Dame gave young women the opportunity to go beyond the boundaries that served as a barrier for many women in those days. That’s pretty remarkable, and those of us here today are living proof of how well the nuns succeeded. For us, it will always be an honor to be alumnae of that wonderful institution.”