When Jubilarian Barbara (Mlot) Olson, ʹ64, describes her life, she is quick to count her blessings. Her deepest loves, family and an appreciation for continuous learning, become immediately apparent.
"My husband John and I
have lived in the same house in Brookfield for 34 years," she said. "I have been blessed
with a wonderful family from grandparents to grandchildren. We have a son, and our
daughter who lives in Illinois has fraternal twin girls. These granddaughters
have been the joys of our lives for more than five years. I have also been blessed with a continuing
love of learning, particularly history and biographies, and I enjoy gardening,
travel and genealogy."
Since graduating from Stritch with a degree in English, Olson has lived her love of learning both personally and professionally.
"The “teacher” in me
started in grade school when I 'played school' with neighborhood friends," said Olson. "At a junior high, I taught English and
Spanish. As our children went through school,
I was involved in religious education. I also tutored a wonderful young woman from
Mexico who was learning English. After work hours at the Medical College of
Wisconsin where I have been for 33 years (still working 32 hours/week), I taught
a 14-hour, seven week session of Medical
Terminology 46 times."
Her appreciation for the value of education was supported through her early relationships with her teachers, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi, first at St. Mary's Academy and then at Stritch. In fact, Olson has such fond memories of her
years at Stritch that for the last several months, she has volunteered on the
Jubilarian Reunion Committee to plan the June 20-22 events.
As the excitement
for the weekend builds, she has agreed to share some of her favorite memories with her
What brought you to
Stritch? How has Stritch remained with you in your personal life and career?
For college, my only
choice was Stritch. I never considered another. Several of my 1964 Stritch
classmates and I graduated from St. Mary’s Academy whose buildings Stritch
shared on the old campus facing Lake Michigan, so there was always a Stritch
presence. I had had the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi since first grade
and knew they were good teachers. Also, Stritch was still an all women’s
college which was, for me, a good education fit. My years at Stritch were and
remain an integral part of my life.
What do you remember
about being on campus during those years?
I was a day student
rather than a resident, so I do not have as many storied memories of Stritch
and classmates as those who lived on campus. All of us, students and teachers,
remember Father Graham hiding on the other side of doorways with his tripod and
camera, catching us with his Can-do, Can-did, Can-done photos, many of which are
now in the Stritch Archives.
Stritch, in those
years, did not have “majors” but rather “fields of concentration.” Mine was English. Final exams consisted of questions based on
all four years of courses in one’s field.
In our senior year, we even took a course to prepare for the
finals. This was a memorable process of
endurance for every student.
Our 1964 class is
unique, being the only class that spent two years each on the old and new
campuses. A big issue for us day
students, when we moved from the south campus after our sophomore year, was the
commute to the north campus. Many day students lived on the south side and got
to school by bus, which was not a viable option to the north campus. So, during our junior and senior years, four
of us squeezed into a small car for the commute. The car owner and driver,
Donna (Wright) Stehling, picked up me first, then Sue (Koetting) Morey, then
Jan (Cira) Raymond.
Are you still in
touch with any of your professors or classmates?
During the half
century since graduation, I have kept in regular contact with two classmates,
Carolyn (Miller) Mitchell and Sue (Koetting) Morey. Carolyn has lived in
Wauwatosa for decades, but Sue, currently living in Vancouver, Washington, has resided
in 11 states and The Netherlands. They are our most widely-traveled classmates.
Sue has been to 49 states, Carolyn to all 50, and both to many countries
outside the United States.
Have you been back on
campus recently? If so, what has changed the most?
Being on the
Jubilarian Reunion Committee, I have returned to Stritch for meetings since
last fall. One meeting was on All Saints Day; beforehand, we went to Mass in
the beautiful St. Francis of Assisi Chapel.
Since graduation, several significant new buildings are on campus.
What are you most
looking forward to during Jubilarian Weekend?
I am looking forward
to taking the campus tour, and I am very excited about the visit to the
Archives to reminisce with my classmates.
Stritch is excited to welcome back its Jubilarians (the Classes
of 1937-64), as well as the Class of 1989 for its 25-year reunion from June 20-22.