Kathryn Niggemann’s memories of Alverno extend as far back as the College’s move to the “new” campus almost 60 years ago. Originally from northern Wisconsin, Kathryn married Anthony and, eventually, they settled in Milwaukee. In 1951, they built a house located just off Oklahoma Avenue, so when construction of the College started in the early 50s, they literally watched it go up brick by brick.
A teacher by trade, Kathryn taught at Blessed Sacrament and other Catholic elementary schools while raising five children in her home on 39th Street. A firm believer that music and arts are essential to the overall learning process, the family’s close proximity to Alverno opened cultural doors of opportunity.
Kathryn recalls working closely with Sister Laura Lampe to launch Alverno Presents. “I remember talking to local businesses, asking for their support by placing ads in the booklet. I did it for a long time, but it was worth it because the money from those ads helped to fund the program, which still exists today.”
The family’s involvement with the College came after eldest daughter Patricia (Niggemann) Hribar ’65 decided to attend Alverno to pursue a degree in medical technology. And with daughter Pat enrolled at the school, their volunteer efforts also increased.
“We organized a parents group,” explains Kathryn. “We’d have monthly meetings and host events.”
The group provided an opportunity for parents to collaborate and ease the transition of their daughters entering college, as well as hosting events like a Sunday afternoon “Mother-Daughter Tea” and a Saturday night “Father-Daughter Dance” with a live orchestra band.
The involvement continued when a second daughter, Mary (Niggemann) Reining ’71 enrolled at Alverno to pursue a degree in education. During the same time period, their son dated and married an Alverno graduate, Barbara (Blavat) Niggemann ’68, who received a degree in art and worked as a teacher.
When the State of Wisconsin required teachers to have a four-year degree, Kathryn, naturally, opted to earn her degree from Alverno. “It was a top-notch school and it worked with my schedule so I could continue working. I took classes at night and all summer and, in 1974, I graduated from Alverno, too.”
Soon, Kathryn’s children married and had families of their own, but the Alverno legacy continued with daughter Pat who met her husband, Lee, at an Alverno College dance, which her parents chaperoned. The couple married in 1965 and, in due time, were blessed with seven children.
Continuing the legacy, when Pat’s sixth child, Amy (Hribar) Goodle ’96 started on the nursing career path, she chose Alverno, too. “The nursing program was excellentand I really liked the fact that you were able to start with clinicals right away, unlike other schools which made you wait. This meant you really could graduate in four years, which I did.”
At commencement, Amy was joined by her mother and grandmother who couldn’t have been more proud. Amy shares, “Having three generations of Alverno women there was very special and incredibly memorable.”
Pat’s son Steven also leveraged the Alverno connection when he introduced his now wife, Jessica Rae (Francis) Hribar ’01, to the family. Pat laughs as she tells the story, “He told us there was a special someone he’d like us to meet and added ‘you’ll love her – she’s an Alverno grad too!’”
Although there aren’t any Niggemans or Hribars currently enrolled at Alverno, Pat has remained quite active with the College. In addition to serving two terms on the Alverno Alumnae Association Board and serving on the Commission for Education in the 21st Century, Pat was also honored with the Alverno College Exemplar Award in 2008. Currently, she’s busy planning activities for the Golden Guild induction of the Class of 1965.
As for whether the legacy can extend to four generations: “I think so,” beams Pat. “I have 18 grandchildren with one more on the way. My granddaughter Mary, who is in high school, has already attended an Alverno orientation and will no doubt be the next in the family to graduate from the College.”
Click on the 2011-12 President’s Report to read more amazing stories like the one featuring Kathryn, Pat and Amy.