Alumna Judy Kiehart, Class of 1973, finding success as a playwright
Judy Kiehart recalls a different era at Lackawanna College, a time when, to the likely surprise of some today, there was a much different dress code for students who pursued degrees designed to put them right to work.
“I’m sure we couldn’t wear jeans and a T-shirt. I’m sure of that, and I know I probably never wore sneakers. I wore penny loafers, and that was my standard,” she recalled with a laugh.
The Jermyn native and Lakeland High School graduate said she attended Lackawanna at the urging of her parents but quickly found a home here.
“My parents were factory workers. My mom worked in a dress factory, and my dad worked in a glass factory, and they would admire the gals who worked in the office. To my parents, that was a step up,” she said. “My mom and dad had it set: I was going to go to junior college and I was going to be a secretary.
“It suited me very well,” she continued. “Lackawanna was a very good base for me, and I learned good study habits while I was there. I always had that drive to learn, and I continued to learn throughout my life and my career.”
She graduated from Lackawanna with a degree in secretarial science in 1973, and over the years those organizational skills have been put to good use. Judy raised her son, Jason Page, in Pennsylvania and completed a bachelor’s degree in business at Marywood University in 1996.
She eventually moved to Colorado in 2000 to pursue new opportunities. She has previously worked as a real estate appraiser serving five counties in the mountains of Colorado and now works as a field inspector and appraiser for Chaffee County, where her current hometown of Poncha Springs is located.
Part of Judy’s exploration out West also led her to the literary arts, a path that she said she started down in Pennsylvania while working with the NEPA Writers Group. Over the years, she has honed her voice as a playwright.
From Oct. 17-19, 2014, her original one-act play, “Assumptions,” will be staged during the Salida Colorado One Act Play Festival. The national writing contest resulted in 40 submissions, including her first-place winning entry. Her first winning one-act play, “Some Angels Play Checkers,” was performed in 2005.
She has been an active member of the Stage Left Theatre Company since 2003. Her accomplishments there includes the original 2010 Christmas program, “Global Holidays,” a collection of tales “told by a pair of comical magpies” that explores little known traditions and folklore tied to the holidays.
Additional writing credits include the short story, “Slips,” which appeared in the 2002 anthology “Valley Voices: Ripples in the Stream of Life” which was based on a swimming hole from her youth near what is now Aylesworth Park in Lackawanna County. A second short story, “The Pilgrimage,” and a one-act play, “Love Online,” are among her works that have received honorable mention awards. She’s currently working on another play, a memoir, and a collection of short stories.
Even with all of the changes that she’s undergone since leaving Lackawanna, Judy fondly recalls the personal connections she made with her professors, classmates, and with then-President Dr. C.R. Walter Thomas. Dr. Thomas was also the person who strongly supported Judy’s role as the editor of a small campus newsletter called “The Notepad.”
“I have high regard and respect for everyone that was there back in the day when I was there. I don’t think I would have survived at a larger college,” she said.