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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Lifelong Learning with my alma mater

By Mary Ann Puetz Elliott ‘67

I’m a University of Dayton alumnus, an old one. What the alumni call a "Golden Flyer." To illustrate this, you’ll see a photo below of my little sister and me posing in front of Marycrest, the brand new women’s dorm.

My first two years at UD were spent in this dorm, a three-girl room as a freshman and graduating to a double as a sophomore. Women were not allowed to move off campus until junior year.

Like most of my friends and roommates, I was an education major. My classes were different from the rest, though, because my major was Art Education and the majority of my classes were off campus at the Dayton Art Institute, a two-bus trip every morning and afternoon. Most of my education classes were taken in the summer.

Summers in the dorm were totally different from fall and winter. Most of my dorm mates were nuns, and I was delighted to find they were a lot of fun to be with. Unfortunately, I never kept in touch with them like I have with my other UD friends, who I get together with every year or so.


After college, I taught high school art in Versailles, Ohio. Then, I married and moved to Queens, N.Y. My husband didn’t want me to work, which was actually an affordable option back then, so I stayed home and we started a family. I eventually taught art classes again all over Nassau County.

Which brings me to the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF).

In my spare time, I volunteered at my local parish, and that’s where I learned that the university was offering online classes through the VLCFF. This was shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, so I signed up for the class on Islam to try to understand the people we kept hearing about on the news. It was a great class, so, in the next session, I completed a course on the Old Testament, then the New Testament and so on. There is no plan to my studies. It's just finding a class that interests me at the time. This term, I’m taking a class on praying and poetry.

One of the factors in my decision to take VLCFF classes was these courses are available through my alma mater. I haven’t used my new knowledge for anything other than personal fulfillment, but the knowledge I’ve gained is wonderful.

The VLCFF online is year-round, with three-and five-week courses in English, Spanish and Arabic, plus certificate programs, diaconate courses and more. See the schedule and list of courses. 

Pictured above: Sue Pope Finn ‘67, Mary Goring Huber ‘67, Sharon Murphy Conklin ‘67, Nancy Marble Cooksley ‘67, Mary Zahn ‘67, Jeanne Reger Carter ‘68. Mary notes that when they were juniors, and finally allowed to move off campus, they added a new dimension to their growth. Maintaining a house and buying food, cooking meals and deciding who washed the dishes.

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