First graduating class honored at 50-year anniversary luncheon

By Jessica Hagerty
October 4, 2007

On Sunday, Sept. 23 Cabrini honored the women in the first graduating class to enter the college. This date was exactly the 50 year anniversary of the opening day of the college.

On Sept. 23, 1957 the college opened its doors to 43 women. Many of these women of the graduating class of 1961 were present at Sunday’s festivities.

The day’s events began with a liturgy in the Bruckmann Memorial Chapel of Saint Joseph, followed by a luncheon in the mansion. The first graduates then took a trolley tour of the campus and ended at Founder’s hall to view this month’s exhibits and view a video of the 1961 commencement. The women also had a chance to meet with current Cabrini students.

“It was very beneficial to learn about the history of the college,” sophomore undeclared major Tom Heigh said. “It makes me feel more a part of Cabrini.”

Some of the women from the first graduating class have not been on Cabrini’s campus in many years. It was 10 years since Pat Kelly-Seeger has been on campus.

“It’s great to be back, I forgot how beautiful the campus really is,” Seeger said.

Seeger currently lives in Connecticut but still considers herself a local of Cabrini.

Of the 43 women who entered the college on Sept. 23, 1957, 28 of them lived in the Mansion; the others, known as “Day-Hops,” were commuters from their homes nearby. Some “Day-Hops” commuted by means of a “pink bus” that the College operated.

One of the riders of the pink bus was Anna Marie Fontana-Marino of the class of 1961 who rode the bus from 69th street in Philadelphia.

Fontana-Marino, who graduated in 1961 with an elementary educations degree and a current resident of Cherry Hill, N.J., explained in an interview with the Loquitur why she comes back almost every year to visit the campus.

“I just feel like I have to come back, this is like home to me,” Fontana-Marino said.

Many of the students in the first few graduating classes came from Cabrini High School in New York. Mother Ursula Infante had just resigned from the principal position and then became responsible for the creation of the college that had long been a dream of the Missionary Sisters.

During this time, women were not always encouraged to go to college but Mother Ursula was determined to get women to attend her school.

Cabrini Boggiana, a 1961 graduate and the captain of the softball team, was a student at Cabrini High School that was not planning on going to college.

“Mother Ursula came to my house and spoke with my mother and talked her into letting me go to college,” Boggiana said in an interview with the Loquitur.

Boggiana described her experience at Cabrini as “wonderful” and still remains friends with the three women she lived with in the Mansion.

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Jessica Hagerty

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