Alumni News and Updates

Judy McClearyJudy McCleary '69 has a lot of historical perspective when it comes to Delaware County. As one of our first graduates, she studied in a high school and a former orphanage to obtain one of the first Applied Science degrees the College offered in 1969. She has over 40 years experience working in Information Technology, a field which continues to change on a daily basis. In her spare time, she volunteers to teach members of the community at large about what life was like before there were paved roads, Wawa stores and nationwide Wi-Fi. On September 18, she will be honored by the Delaware County Historical Society for her volunteerism. We congratulate her on all her achievements to date.

What year did you graduate from Delaware County Community College and with what degree?  

“I graduated from Community College of Delaware County in the spring of 1969 with an associate degree in Applied Science and a major in Data Processing, now called Information Technology. This was the first graduating class and had just 29 students. It is also important to note that the name of the College did not change to its current version until 1970.”

Did you pursue further academic goals?

“Yes, I transferred to Penn Morton College or PMC Colleges (now Widener University) to pursue an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. I was thrilled that all my course work transferred and did not lose a single credit hour. In the early days, the College had no transfer agreements. I believe, because I graduated with honors and the College had a good reputation, PMC was willing to accept me.

 “Lifelong learning is important in any industry, but especially in Information Technology.  I continue to take classes related to my work and even returned to the College on four different occasions to take industry related classes.

 “For the past three years, I have taught classes at Elder Week, an annual educational program at the College for senior citizens.  The classes relate to the early history in Delaware County concentrating on Christmas customs, historical toys, clothing, and how to trace the history of your house.  Just for fun, I taught a class on all the things you can make with just an orange or a lemon. If you want to know the answer, you will need to sign up for the class in March.”

What are you doing now?

“I currently work at the College as a manager in the Information Technology department. My role is to collaborate with a team of dedicated professionals who work very hard to keep our database and other systems working at optimal performance.                

“What I really want to tell you about is what I do outside the office for fun.  I live in Bethel Township and for the last 16 years I have been researching its history and the surrounding area at the grass roots level. 'What was it like to live in this area in the late 1600s?'  'Would you like hands-on experience?' Come visit Bethel Township Preservation Society Founders’ Day, an annual event held at the Bethel Fire House. It takes place on October 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with house tours from 3 to 6 p.m.

“We will have volunteers dressed in period clothing, shearing sheep, making chairs, punching tin and other hands on colonial crafts. There will also be Civil War re-enactors available to answer questions. The house tours will feature a log home built in the late 1600s and restored in 2000. This home was built using the Penn Plan and was typical of the area at that time.

“We are also sponsoring an art contest for 2nd through 4th graders in the Tri-state area. Contest rules and entry forms can be found on our website at www.BTPS-PA.COM." 

What are your future plans?

“Encourage, coach and facilitate the database team here at the College to be the best they can be and find balance between work and home.”

What is your favorite memory of your time on campus?

“This is a rather funny question considering I was here at the beginning. Let me explain. The first year classes did not start until 4 p.m. (I loved it - what college student wants to go to class before noon any way). You may ask ‘Why 4 p.m.?’ The college had no campus of its own so classes were held at Ridley High School and could not begin until 4 pm because rooms were being used by high school students. I could walk to class because I lived close to the school which was great because I had no car or driver’s license.

 “The second year my classes were moved to the Dante campus (once an orphanage) in Concord Township. This was a beautiful location with lots of open space although the parking lot left a lot to be desired. All classes related to my major started after 4 p.m. These classes were taught by part-time faculty that worked in the industry and most of the students in my major had full-time jobs during the day.  Class size was small, sometimes less than 10 people, so the individualized attention was phenomenal.

 “Now my favorite memory on campus, for obvious reasons, was my second year. My mother dropped me off because there was no public transportation at the time. The parking lot was not paved and there was no way to paint lines to separate the cars, so telephone poles were laid on their side to separate the rows and you just parked next to the person who got there before you. My mother backed into a spot so I could get out and somehow the car slipped back over the telephone pole and it could not get off. I tried to push it off without success. So I went to class, apologized for being late and asked the instructor, Mr. Ricci, if it would be ok if the class could help move my mother’s car. The whole class came out, including the instructor, and picked up my mother’s car and sent her on her way.” 

Did you have a favorite professor or class during your studies?

“Obviously, my favorite professor was Mr. Ricci because he helped my mother off the telephone pole in the parking lot. Another favorite was Dr. Claude Gates, Dean of Student Personnel. He facilitated a support group every Thursday for students with issues at home.”

What advice would you give to current students and Alumni to make the most of the education they received from the College?

"Find something you love to do and find a job doing it. I was very fortunate I have been excellent with numbers and playing with them. In my senior year at Ridley, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a FORTRAN class hosted by PMC and thought this is what I wanted to do. I have never been a good speller and as long as you spell things the same way when writing programs things work well. I have always said I would rather work 50 hours a week at a job which made me happy than 30 hours at one which does not. 

 “With God’s blessing and the right support you can accomplish great things and make a difference one day at a time. Remember there will be ups and downs in your life but God is always with you. Work hard now and take advantage of an affordable two years of education before you move on.”

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