Norma Vazquez-Zwick, Enrollment Services Secretary
“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.
Kate Wulle, Retired Theater Faculty Member
“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.
Brian Andersen and Matt Walsh, Charter Members of the Foundation—Andersen, Executive Vice President; Walsh, Foundation’s First President
“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.
Ray Pietryla and Kay Schneegas, Retired Physical Education Faculty Members
“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.
Bill Helmold, Director of Client Services, Information Technology
“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.
Douglas Gehrke, Retired Economics Faculty Member
“Moraine Valley was a sleeping giant.”
Gehrke discusses the early days of campus life focusing on the interesting nuances of the Quonset huts, the first buildings erected on the property, and the open classroom concept. He shares the history of the five Moraine Valley presidents, the start of the faculty union and stories about the “good ‘ole days.” As the college’s first Athletics Director, he reminisces about the first basketball season.
Lenette Staudinger, Retired Biology Faculty Member
“Whenever I get the chance, I tell people I was a faculty member here.”
Staudinger discusses the first days Moraine Valley opened in buildings on 115th Street, including the open concept floor plan that created classrooms with no walls, crossing the street to the cemetery for old flowers for the biology lab and spending hours moving fruit flies into tubes for students. She fondly recounts tales of lab animals’ hysterics and the closeness of the 30 faculty hired in the first year, many of whom are still her close friends.
Stephenie Presseller, Sustainability Manager
“I’m proud of Moraine Valley for coming along to make this a better future for everyone.”
Presseller discusses the cultural change that has occurred at Moraine Valley regarding sustainability in the seven years she has worked at the college. She praises the college president for signing the President’s Climate Commitment, pledging Moraine Valley to be climate neutral by 2042.
Pat O’Connor, Chief of Police
“Moraine Valley has been good for the community and good for me. It all started here…and it’s gonna end here.”
O’Connor discusses the evolution of his 42-year career in law enforcement, which started and will end at Moraine Valley. His Introduction to Law Enforcement instructor wondered about the long-haired musician in the class, but ultimately guided him into police work. O’Connor worked for the Office of Campus Safety and Security on the midnight shift before spending the next 30 years working for municipal police departments. When he returned as police chief in 2007, his career had come full circle.
Mark Horstmeyer, Retired Director of College and Community Relations
“Moraine Valley is an outstanding institution, and our community and students realize that.”
Horstmeyer discusses the top three highlights of his 17-year career at Moraine Valley: outstanding relationships he has developed with faculty and staff; growth of the college – both in enrollment and physically—thanks in large part to the $89 million referendum he led in 2006; and, his role as the men’s and women’s cross country coach.
Holly Katavich, Manager of Compensation and HRIS, Human Resources
“It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve enjoyed every minute of the 17 years here.”
Katavich discusses how a temporary student employment job turned into a 17-year career at Moraine Valley. Despite an interest in going to work after high school, she stumbled upon the college and took classes while working part-time in several campus departments. Two associate degrees and one bachelor degree later, Katavich continued her professional career in human resources. She reminisces about the open floor plan in Building T, a fountain in the Library and working at the college on 9/11.
Elaine Echols, Class of 2007
“Returning to Moraine Valley was best thing I could ever have done. Moraine Valley is the place to be.”
Echols discusses coming to Moraine Valley because she needed to support her kids following a divorce. A Criminal Justice major, she is now a court advocate for DCFS and will begin law school at Northwestern School of Law in June 2017. She credits her public speaking professor with encouraging her to begin a motivational speaking group, Sister2Sister Network. Her successes have led to her induction into the college’s first Alumni Hall of Fame class.
Demetrius Robinson, Manager of Student Life
“I’m so proud to be a part of this particular college.”
Robinson discusses Student Life in the old College Center before the Student Union was built. Referring to it as “my stomping ground, my humble beginnings,” some of his favorite memories in the old center are celebrating the Chicago Bears trip to the SuperBowl and dressing as a clown for a big referendum party. Now he oversees the new Student Union and all of the student clubs and organizations.
Ray Lehner, Retired Respiratory Care Technology Faculty Member
“I’m a very lucky man, a very fortunate man…a very privileged human being because I was part of Moraine Valley in the early days, the earliest.”
Lehner shares stories of a faculty who respected, encouraged and loved each other…and they still do. They had humor and fun, cracking jokes about each other, sharing stories and insights. They joined their minds and opinions, and no one was stopped by failure. They always found a way. He came to Moraine Valley because it was the place he could make the biggest difference. He calls it a resource, a reference, a refuge, a lifeboat, a safe haven, and for some a second home. Humphrey Bogart said, “This is what dreams are made of.” Lehner responds, “Welcome to Moraine Valley.”
Dave Termunde, User Support Services Coordinator, Information Technology
“Moraine Valley exposed me to doing what I enjoy doing. This place has that special feeling. This was really worth it.”
Termunde discusses coming to Moraine Valley when he was a young child to take Photoshop and Print Shop classes, which allowed him to build technology skills before everyone had technology in their pockets. He enrolled in classes at 13, earned an associate degree here and started working in various technology roles at the college, including teaching IT classes.
Nicole Selvaggio, Alumna and Adjunct Communications Instructor
“I can’t express enough how much of a life changing place this has been for me. All roads lead back to Moraine Valley.”
Selvaggio discusses the many roles she has played at Moraine Valley in the last six years, including student and star tennis player, head women’s tennis coach and now adjunct faculty member. She reflects on her full circle moment of teaching in the classroom she once sat in as a student as well as her experiences playing in and coaching at the national competition every year she was involved with the team.
Jerry Bennett, Mayor of Palos Hills
“For 35 years our partnership has been an honor and privilege for me, but also for what it’s done for the southwest suburban area. We look forward to continued growth and excellence.”
Bennett discusses the “amazing” transformation of the college he has witnessed as mayor for 35 of the last 50 years. He is proud of the showpiece it has become for Palos Hills and credits the founders, board of trustees, Foundation, and college presidents with building a facility that is “second to none in Illinois.” He praised the college for its commitment to the community in providing a place for activities as well as quality educational opportunities.