Student & Alumni Stories

A Chatham education is invaluable, and we’re proud of how, through your generosity, we’ve been able to extend it to so many deserving students. Here are some stories about what it has meant to current students and alumni.

Paying it Forward: Susan Zimecki, 1970

I received generous scholarship funding from Chatham for my four wonderful years there. By no stretch of the imagination, or my parents’ finances, would it have been possible for me to attend without that funding. I support Chatham’s Undergraduate Scholarship Fund to “pay it forward”—to help make it possible for others to receive the high-quality education that Chatham provides. After a career in nonprofits, I am not in a position to make big gifts, but I do give each year.”

Pursuing Her Dream: Mia DiNardo, 2020

"When I was looking at colleges in high school, I knew I really wanted to go into occupational therapy, and Chatham was my first choice. Not only did I love the Shadyside campus, but Chatham had a great OT program. However, I was going to swallow my dream and attend another local University without an OT program for financial reasons. With the scholarship I received, I was able to choose Chatham with a clear conscience and pursue my dream in Occupational Therapy! To this day, my favorite part about Chatham is the campus. I consider it a haven; school and classes can be stressful, but being on this nature-rich campus is calming and reinvigorating.”

Where Life Began: Meaghan Clohessy, 2014

"It is hard to think of my life without thinking of Chatham. In many ways, this is where my life began. From our faculty, I developed the academic rigor that allowed me to earn my place at the London School of Economics. From our scholarships, I wandered the cobblestone streets of Berlin and Brussels, exploring history beyond the borders of textbooks. From our writing community, I published in literary journals and spoke at conferences, motivating me to continue pursuing my craft. These things guided me to where I am now, living outside Washington D.C. and working at the RAND Corporation.

Chatham has made me into the person I have always wanted to be—confident, passionate, determined. I give to my school because I want other students to have the same experience, to find themselves and participate in their communities, thereby making this into a more interesting and prosperous world."

I Have the Confidence: Jessica Keller, 2019

"I know times are difficult right now, but Chatham students are some of the most resilient people I know. My time at Chatham wasn’t always the easiest for various reasons—mostly life getting in the way—but I always found so much kindness and support there. I truly believe that I have the confidence and knowledge to do great things in my future because I went to Chatham.”

Take Chances: Kate Emory, 2006

“Take chances and do things that are outside your experience. Each of my successes and favorite memories of my time at Chatham are directly linked to things that I did not consider to be in my wheelhouse, or things that I had zero experience in. Even when things were difficult, I was fortunate to have that experience and grow as a person. Put yourself out there and try things that you would not have considered before. This quarantine will pass. Things are uncertain but we’re all in this together. We are a community that supports and encourages each other—through challenges and successes. We will come out of this closer and more supportive than ever before.” 

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone: Anne Radzanowski, 2019

“One thing that I would tell students is to try not to take your time at Chatham for granted. This time is super-special, but it will be over before you know it. Take every opportunity that Chatham gives you and run with it. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone; you never know where it will take you. Finally, don't forget to have fun!”

A Powerful Education: Daniela Beck, 2019

“As a member of the Chatham community, I’ve experienced first-hand just how powerful a technology background and a liberal arts education can be. I feel that I have many different perspectives to approach problems, thanks to my diverse experiences. I want current and future students to know that Chatham is a place where anyone can become successful if they put their mind to it.” 

Lifelong Friends: Ann Rosch Duffield, 1969

Thank you, Chatham, for connecting me to my lifelong friend and four-year roommate, Sarah Bornstein ‘69! Sarah pulled me back from complete disaster countless times during those four years. The one memory I think of most fondly is when she saved me from transferring to Katie Gibbs Secretarial School in New York City. She accompanied me to my interview on the umpteenth floor of a skyscraper in Manhattan, and as we rode for what seemed like forever up the elevator in our 60's attire, we were surrounded by young women in suits, hats, and white gloves—all bound for the same floor. By the time the elevator stopped, and Sarah and I had exchanged numerous "looks" of distress, I had made up my mind. But it was good old Sarah who held my hand once again to make certain I walked the straight line. 

So Many Favorite Memories: Fern Weiner Canter, 1968

“So many favorite memories… Watching the sunset from the top of Chapel Hill… Using trays to slide down that same hill in winter… Singing in the Choir under Lorenzo Malfatti... Summer work study job in the LibraryGetting married over winter break… Having our son born two weeks before Commencement in May of 1968… and, of course, the scholarship support I received!” 

Never Give Up: Lenora Palonder, 1984

Never give up in any difficult situation. My love of art began in grade school. I wanted to major in art, but my parents said no. I knew my artwork was part of my heart and soul. I took my artwork to Chatham and was immediately accepted. Upon graduation, I became art curator for Westinghouse, followed by Gallatin Bank, Integra Bank, and National City Bank. The leadership skills and the encouragement given to me by Chatham professors, particularly Emma Maisley and Jerry Caplan, were the reason for my success. They never gave up on any of their students, and, from them, I have learned that tomorrow is not today and to never give up on the future of yourself and where you are going.” 

Try New Things: Pamela Bradley, 1970

“Try new things! Chatham is a supportive environment—the students and the faculty. This is your chance to venture out of your comfort zone and see what you can do. The only regret I have from my years at Chatham is that we did not have the extensive sports program that is there now. A couple of friends and I started a swim team (in the basement of Mellon), but it disappeared when we all graduated. Chatham's current student athletes are awesome! 

A Sense of Community: Cathy Natalia, Practice Experience Program Assistant

Being a member of the Chatham community has given me a sense of community. My favorite Chatham memory is volunteering for the Moonlight Breakfast with my young son. It's a wonderfully busy evening! My son, who is 11, helped out twice, and it's been such a positive experience for everyone! The event makes him want to attend Chatham University one day (that… and the "Harry Potter-esque" Campus).” 

Great Impacts: Krista Terpack, Senior Graphic Designer

What makes me saddest about the situation we are in now is that we all had to leave campus so abruptly. I didn't get to say goodbye to the students I have become friends with. To all of you returning next year, I hope you have a great summer, and I look forward to seeing you again. To our fabulous seniors, good luck in whatever you go on to do. You have made great impacts on and off campus and will be missed.” 

Comfort and Confidence: Nicole Werwie, 2015

Chatham gave me the comfort and confidence to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was surrounded by professors, staff, and friends who gave endless support and encouraged me to reach for my biggest goals. I wasn’t planning on becoming a physician, but after my Chatham experience, I learned you can find opportunities in ways you never expected and truly grow when you seek those opportunities out of your own passion.” 

Meeting a Heroine: Carmen Jones-Filloy, 2011

“I had the pleasure of hearing and meeting Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She spoke at Chatham College for their Black History Month Celebration. Her lasting inspiring words: “...history is about more than personalities. It is about movements and struggles. It is about the courage and dedication and sacrifice of unsung heroes and heroines, the everyday people who have forsaken comfort and privilege so that their children and future generations can have a better life.”” 

Take Hold of Your Future: Leah Johnson, BIA Interior Architecture Student

“Chatham offers bountiful activities and opportunities for everyone both on and off campus. Working to use all the resources offered will only gear you to success in and out of the Chatham community! Take hold of your future at Chatham and make the most of all your successes! 

Fulfilling Dreams: Kelsey Calamaro 2019

The Chatham community allowed me to fulfill two dreams that I didn’t realize were possible when I graduated from high school. I was able to play the sport I love (soccer) and continue my lifelong dream of becoming a Physician Assistant. With the tremendous help from friends and family, I am very proud to say that I will be coming back to this incredible community this fall to complete that dream.” 

Life-Changing Moments: Shelly Israel Zirkes 1968

I will never forget having the great composer Aaron Copeland visit the campus for several days. It was the first I remember hearing of his relationship with Martha Graham, and the inspiration for and creation of his ballet "Appalachian Spring." Also, my Senior Tutorial in Anthropology, wherein I worked with Dr. Fred Adelman. Although stressful at times, Dr. Adelman encouraged me to study the folk-urban and sacred-secular continuum as instruments of social change. To this day, I see social change in this light.” 

Learn On: Nora Naber Windmeyer 1971

“Current and future students are more proactive about all aspects of their life than we were. Neither good or bad, I would want them to be aware that there is much wisdom in all ages and all disciplines, and nothing is wasted in learning all you can. I live on a farm in a small community and have been a light for learning. I enjoy the perspective that enhanced enlightenment offers. I would say “learn on!” 

I Grew Intellectually & Emotionally: Dr. Robin Weiss 1972

“Reading Meaghan Clohessey's (2014) story, I realize that my life also began in a certain way with Chatham. I graduated forty-two years earlier in 1972. My freshman year ended with a bang—literally. I was in a car crash, coming home from a date in a VW bug. I learned that life can turn on a dime. From being unaware of the tenuous nature of life, to being in plaster casts from head to toe, I spent "toe-dabbling day" in a local hospital. Chatham was, I realize now, wonderfully flexible and warmly adaptive to my needs while I recovered. As a student, I grew intellectually and emotionally. I became a curious person with a sense of agency in the world. I later attended medical school and became a doctor, a health policy analyst, and a sometimes writer (I have a letter in the New York Times today).” 

Being a Chatham Woman: Tierney Manning 2010

I believe that some of my best skills were honed at Chatham. When to listen, when to speak up, when to be bold and when there is strength in being reserved. The mentorships and friendship that helped me develop those skills have carried on well past graduation. This is especially obvious when my contemporaries and I bond over the broad but strongly instilled meaning of being a 'Chatham Woman' and 'world ready'.” 

One Beautiful Spring Day: Maryem Aslam 2017

“One beautiful spring day, I had some time between classes, so I sat under the flowering tree right outside Anderson Dining Hall. People passing by stopped to chat and comment on the luxury of spending a few moments outside during the business of the semester. My close friends joined me under the flowering tree, and we talked about classes, the patriarchy, women's leadership, our professors, and so many more topics that make Chatham a unique and special place.” 

Push for a Sustainable Future: Kartik Mekala 2018

“For Sustainability and Food Studies students, keep pushing yourself to explore how you can make an impact on a sustainable future rather than deciding how a sustainability career should impact your future. There are so many opportunities that organizations do not know yet that they require and your passion and work shall open up new opportunities in the future.” 

Make the Most of It: Amy Markus Kellman 1960

“Make the most of your college years. You will never again have the time to learn in-depth. Take at least two courses that aren't part of your major.” 

Finding My Passion: Lois Rebich

I went back to school at Chatham to get a teaching certificate after my job in business demanded time and travel that did not work with my young family of three. I fell in love with student teaching and watching students grow under my care. I eagerly traded the boardroom for the classroom and never looked back. Chatham allowed me as a young mother to set my educational pace with no judgment, deepen my love for pedagogy, and dive into a career that lasted 25 years. I was honored to be named the 2007 Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year, and I give Chatham much of the credit for the recognition bestowed on me.” 

Listen to Your Intuition: Jessica Wolfe 2013

“Your interests, passions, and dreams are nothing to avoid or ignore. Please listen to your intuition, and you will excel at any career, job, or adventure you take in this life! All you have is you—from beginning to end. How you interact and enjoy the world in-between is up to you.”