Lackawanna gave alum Kathleen Gildea confidence to pursue her dreams
Lackawanna College has been the starting point for the life-long careers of many residents including Golden Alumni Ambassador Kathleen M. Gildea, M.Ed., LMFT.
Gildea, a member of the class of 1963, fondly recalls receiving her start in Scranton.
“In 1961, when I graduated from Archbald High School, my father didn’t believe in the necessity of college for his daughters. He felt strongly that my brothers ‘would need a college education as they will likely be supporting families,’ while I would ‘probably marry and be supported,’” she recalled.
The idea was a disappointment to Gildea, who had taken numerous college prep courses while attending Archbald High, which is known today as Valley View High School. But her fortune would change for the better.
“In the summer of 1962, my father won approximately $400 at a church raffle of some sort,” she said. Gildea was given the money to attend what was then known as Scranton-Lackawanna College “for one year and learn marketable skills, such as typing and shorthand.”
“I felt as though he’d handed me the keys to Harvard or Cornell (my dream college of choice at that time),” Gildea wrote. “I soaked up every single minute of the experience.”
At the end of her first year, Gildea asked her father to continue for a second year to earn an associate degree in accounting, but he said no.
“The morning after my graduation he told me he’d set up an interview for me with a life insurance company in Scranton at 1 p.m. and I was to ‘take the job.’ I did. It turned out that I loved being a secretary and I was very good at it,” she said.
Gildea’s work with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company took her from Scranton to Washington, D.C., shortly after her marriage in 1965. In 1975, she and her husband, along with their two children, moved to Atlanta, Ga., where a friend encouraged her to finally pursue her dream of earning a college degree.
She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1982 from what is now Kennesaw State University, followed by a master’s in counseling psychology from Georgia State University in 1985. After that, she completed a two-year post-graduate study at the Atlanta Institute for Family Studies where she was trained and licensed as a marriage and family psychotherapist.
In 1996, she was invited to teach at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. In addition to her clinical practice, Ms. Gildea continues to teach introductory courses as a part-time instructor. She is proudly listed by KSU as one of the first recipients of its Bachelor in Psychology degrees.
With all she’s accomplished, Gildea, who has two grandchildren – Madi and Parker – still lovingly recalls her one year at Lackawanna College and encourages others to start the pursuit of their degree at the private institution as “your ‘jumping-off place.’”
“I have a lot of great memories from my one year there,” she said. “Most of all, that one short year gave me the confidence to know that I would make it farther out into the world and that I was not only capable but entitled to all the education I wanted. That’s been my greatest gift.”