A Commitment to Giving from the Heart
It may be 40 years since Mary Ryan- Zanotti '72 graduated from Cabrini College, but the lessons she learned still influence every day of her life.
"I learned that by receiving an 'Education of the Heart,' I was expected to give back from my heart in everything that I do," she says. "We were taught to make a commitment not only to help individual students learn, but to do our part to make significant contributions to the profession of teaching."
Now retired from a 36-year career in the classroom, she volunteers her time teaching English to foreign-born parishioners of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Oak Ridge, N.J. She also serves the Teacher's Association of West Milford, N.J., facilitating new teacher training each year. This year's class of new teachers provided her a special bonus: four of her former students were part of the training.
"I was so elated to see these four teachers, and proud to see some of my exceptional students become enthusiastic educators," says Ryan-Zanotti, whose sister Kathleen Ryan-Peterson '68 also graduated from Cabrini and enjoyed a long teaching career in North Jersey.
Ryan-Zanotti's dedication to giving back extends to her alma mater, where she has served on reunion committees, as a Class Agent, and on the Alumni Board of Directors. She is a member of the Cabrini College 1957 Legacy Society by virtue of including a bequest to the College in her will.
"My experience at Cabrini not only prepared me to be a good teacher, it prepared me to make a heartfelt commitment to serve others and to be the best educator I could be," she says. "It is a true pleasure to give back to Cabrini through my time, service and gifts."
A dedicated educator and volunteer, Ryan-Zanotti is grateful for her Cabrini experiences and for the lifelong friends she made while an undergraduate.
"Cabrini prepared me to make commitments to people and I am proud that some of my dearest and best friends today are women I met while at college," she says. "When Mary Ellen Jaindl Roper '72, Michele Waldron Daly '72 and I get talking, it's as if no time has gone by from our days at school."
While it has been years since she was a college student, Ryan-Zanotti still visits Cabrini, especially for reunions and special events, such as the Mansion Gala and the Class of 1972 Cocktail Reception at Alumni Weekend. Each trip from North Jersey seems to turn back the clock for her.
"I still drive up that driveway and get tears in my eyes," she says. "It always feels like I am coming home."
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