Marywood Blogs

A Family Tradition

Posted by Sheryl on 2017 May 23

The Dorr/Kennedy/Ware family of Scranton has maintained a 91-year connection with Marywood, which began when the late Mary Lenore Young Dorr first stepped on the campus as a student in 1926. This year, Mrs. Dorr's great granddaughter, Mary Elizabeth Ware, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a minor in Business. The family's four generations include, from left to right, Kara Kennedy Ware ’90 (M.S. ’08); Mary Elizabeth Ware '17, holding a photo of her great grandmother, the late Mary Lenore Young Dorr ’30; and Christina Dorr Kennedy ’65.

When Mary Elizabeth Ware ’17 stepped across the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology on Sunday, May 20, she became the fourth generation of her family to hold a Marywood degree.

Her family’s ties to Marywood stretch all the way back to 1926, when her great grandmother, the late Mary Lenore Young Dorr ’30, first stepped on the campus as a student. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in French in 1930. Originally from Scranton, Mary Dorr also was an accomplished musician. She taught guitar and piano and served as a church organist in Michigan, where she had moved with her family during the Great Depression.

When it was time for her daughter, Christina Dorr Kennedy ’65, to consider college, she began her studies at Marygrove College in Michigan, but soon transferred to Marywood, where she majored in elementary education and lived with her aunt while attending school. Christina, who had grown up in Michigan and had been educated in Catholic schools there, welcomed the transition to Marywood with open arms. “I loved my time at Marywood,” she said. “I was well-educated and well-prepared. Once I graduated, I walked into the classroom absolutely ready to teach on day one.”

After teaching for several years in the Scranton School District, Christina became a full-time mother to her five children. Later, when all of her kids were in school, she returned to teaching at a local Montessori school, which allowed her to practice her profession and still “be there” for all that her children might need. She is an advocate for Catholic education, emphasizing its importance to her family through several generations. “I, along with my children and grandchildren, have been educated from primary grades through high school in the Catholic education system,” she said. “Many (in my family) have gone on to Catholic higher education as well.”

Christina’s daughter, Kara Kennedy Ware ’90 (M.S. ’08), spent her first year of college at another university, but she soon decided that she really belonged at Marywood. Just as her mother had done two decades earlier, she transferred to Marywood and loved it. “We knew she would,” stated Christina.

 “Growing up in Green Ridge, on the border of Marywood’s exquisitely beautiful campus, made for a wonderful childhood,” Kara recalled. “We attended Mass with the IHM Sisters, went to the (former) Pink Lounge for a treat, swam at the (former) Recreational Field House, and rode bikes to the pond by the Science Center for a nature expedition.” She said that the IHM Sisters influenced her life and education in many ways, dating back to grade school at St. Clare’s, where she attended and had after-school piano lessons. After earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education/early childhood education, Kara married and had a family. She continued to strengthen her ties to Marywood through her children, who took swimming lessons on campus and attended Mass with her, just as she had done as a child.

In the meantime, Bridget Selemba Kennedy ’96, who is married to Kara’s brother, James, earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting, while another Kennedy sibling, Patrick Kennedy ’99, earned his bachelor’s degree in comprehensive social sciences/secondary education, adding yet more ties to the family’s connection to Marywood. Patrick, who was part of the first men’s basketball team, also worked at Marywood for a number of years, as did his brother, Tom Kennedy.

Bridget noted, “There was never a question for me which college to attend. It was always Marywood. Its excellent academic reputation, deep-rooted connection to the community, and Catholic tradition were all draws for me.” As a commuter student who worked full-time while attending school, Bridget said she couldn’t be as involved in clubs and activities as some of the resident students, but she still made numerous friends, soaked up as much of the campus experience as she could, and always felt safe and comfortable at Marywood.

“I felt that I belonged,” Bridget shared. “My Marywood years prepared me for my professional career by instilling in me the value of hard work, self-discipline, and working with others toward a common goal.” She loves to reminisce about her Marywood years and still gets nostalgic whenever she visits the campus, mere blocks from her home. “I am certain these feelings will always stay with me,” said Bridget.

That positive Marywood experience also remained with Kara. In 2003, when she wanted to return to school to pursue her master’s degree in reading education, there was no hesitation regarding where she would attend. “At the time, I was employed by the Diocese of Scranton, and my own children were students at St. Clare’s,” said Kara. “Walking back on Marywood’s campus as an adult learner, I was confident that the professional knowledge I would glean from superior educators would prepare me for my reading education degree.”

Once Kara earned her M.S. degree (2008), she was immediately asked to assume responsibility for the Intermediate Reading Program at St. Clare/St. Paul School. “My educational experience at Marywood University made it possible for me to assume this task,” she stated. “I am now an ELA teacher for the Scranton School District.”

When it was time for her own daughter to attend college, Kara knew the direction that Mary should take. Like her mother, Mary grew up just a few blocks from Marywood, and she recalled playing in the “Tree Stadium” with her siblings, going to Mass on campus, and enjoying nature outings to the old pond by the Science Center. “Marywood was the obvious choice, since it was so engrained in my childhood, and I felt at home on campus,” said Mary, adding, “I have had an excellent experience as a Marywood student.”

Now that she has earned her bachelor’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology with a minor in business, Mary’s plans include a move to Philadelphia to seek work. She credits her positive student experience to Marywood’s excellent Psychology Department. “I cannot say enough good things about the faculty and staff in that department,” Mary stated. “They are immensely skilled in their field and have instilled in me a great love of psychology. I have made friends at Marywood with people who share my interests and passions, some of the best friends I could ask for. Since attending Marywood, I have grown to love learning and to value education. This love drives me to succeed in and thrive in my field.”

Her mother, Kara, once again decided to further her Marywood education, attending school at the same time as her daughter, this time in pursuit of certification through the Education Department’s Principal Leadership Program.

“I have been returning to Marywood University at different periods throughout my entire life,” said Kara. “The person I am, the teacher I always aspire to be, and the administrator I will become in the future come from a foundation of many positive encounters I have been blessed to experience during my 50-year relationship with the IHM Sisters and Marywood University.”

Christina Kennedy, who couldn’t be more proud of her family’s accomplishments, past and present, proclaimed on behalf of each generation, “Marywood is part of our heart, and the IHM Sisters are our neighbors.”


Topics: Catholic Excellence

Posted by Sheryl Lynn Sochoka

Sheryl Lynn is the Publications Director at Marywood University. A proud Marywood graduate and IHM Associate, she is greatly interested in the history of Marywood and of the IHM Sisters. When she's not online, she enjoys cooking, volunteering, being a Marching Band Mom, and waving her Terrible Towel for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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