Mary Pat Bertacchi, Interview with Melissa Newman, 2022


Mary Pat Steele Bertacchi, 1974 (WLA, Mundelein College 1974 Class Photograph)

Interview Transcript


Mary Pat Bertacchi, Interview with Melissa Newman, 2022


A commuter student graduating in 1974, Mary Pat Bertacchi reminisces how she enjoyed the commute up Lake Shore Drive along the lakefront and never having trouble making friends with commuters and non-commuters alike at Mundelein. Mary Pat discusses the memorable classes that she took and how her professors would always do their utmost to help her succeed. Out of all of them, Mary Abbott Hess, the nutrition professor, was a positive influence on Mary Pat. She taught Mary Pat critical thinking skills and helped her gain the confidence she did not know she had. Hess was also well-regarded in her field and Mary Pat appreciated how she used that to her students’ advantage by bringing experts already in the nutrition profession to speak to classes and ground their studies in the real world. Mary Pat also fondly remembers Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt who, upon finding out Mary Pat could not afford spring tuition, made sure scholarship funds were available to allow Mary Pat to complete her schooling.

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Date Created

January 12, 2022


Mary Pat Bertacchi (née Steele) was born and raised in Chicago. Her dad passed away when she was young, so once she finished high school, she began working full-time at a hospital to help her mom with their living expenses. Originally, Mary Pat went to Wright Junior College in Chicago with the intention to become a history teacher, but after taking a nutrition class, she knew that was the career path meant for her. Mundelein was known for its nutrition and home economics programs, so Mary Pat enrolled there as a commuter student. She graduated in 1974 with majors in Home Economics and Food and Nutrition. Mary Pat has a lot of respect for her nutrition professor Mary Abbott Hess, who taught her critical thinking skills and helped her gain confidence she didn’t know she had. They are still in contact to this day! Mary Pat appreciated the knowledge and life-long friendships she gained from Mundelein and felt that because it was an all-women's school, there were no pretenses. One could be comfortable being who she was.

Interviewer Biography

Melissa Newman was a graduate student in the Public History program at Loyola University Chicago and a graduate assistant at the Women and Leadership Archives 2020-2022.

Time Log

[0:00 - 5:00]: Introductions, family background, what made her choose Mundelein, finding her program, commuting to Mundelein, and home economics department.
[5:00 - 10:00]: Professors that stood out to her and classes she took.
[10:00 - 15:00]: Praising the faculty, being a Mundel Bundle, and changes on campus while she attended.
[15:00 - 20:00]: Learning Resource Center, Vietnam War protests, Kent State massacre, assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Democratic Convention, and friendships formed at Mundelein.
[20:00 - 25:00]: Friendships continued, commuter lounge, working a job while in school, and staff members that stood out to her.
[25:00 - 30:00]: Off-campus hangouts, Mundelein friendships, and having a positive experience being a commuter student.
[30:00 - 35:00]: Elevator bandits, transfer student orientation, and inter-college interactions.
[35:00 - 40:00]: All-girl’s school, dress code, classroom experiences, making a career and connections, and her internship.
[40:00 - 42:26]: Appreciating the diversity at Mundelein and wrap up.


31st Street, MPB 20-25
Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, MPB 5-10, MPB 20-25
Annapolis, Maryland, MPB 0-5
Berry, Chuck, MPB 20-25
Chicago, MPB 0-5, MPB 15-20, MPB 20-25, MPB 25-30
The Chicago Seven, MPB 15-20
Child, Julia, MPB 5-10
Civil Rights, MPB 10-15
Congress, MPB 10-15
Cook County, MPB 35-40
Democratic Convention, MPB 15-20
East Indian, MPB 40-45
Fitbit, MPB 30-35
Flynn, Sister Mary Pierre Flynn, MPB 0-5, MPB 35-40
Gannon, Sister Ann Ida, MPB 20-25
Goodman, Steeve, MPB 25-30
Hess, Mary Abbott, MPB 0-5, MPB 5-10, MPB 10-15, MPB 20-25, MPB 35-40
Johnny B. Goode, MPB 20-25
Kent State Massacre, MPB 15-20
King Drive, MPB 20-25
Kraft Foods, MPB 35-40
Lake Michigan, MPB 15-20
Lake Shore Drive, MPB 20-25
Learning Resource Center, MPB 10-15
Loyola University Chicago, MPB 10-15, MPB 25-30, MPB 30-35
Martin Luther King Jr., MPB 15-20
Michael Reese Hospital, MPB 20-25, MPB 25-30
Minnesota, MPB 35-40
Mundel Bundle, MPB 10-15, MPB 25-30
Mundelein College, MPB 0-5, MPB 5-10, MPB 10-15, MPB 15-20, MPB 20-25, MPB 25-30, MPB 30-35, MPB 35-40, MPB 40-45
Northwestern University, MPB 30-35
Obama, President Barrack, MPB 10-15
Palatine, MPB 0-5
Piper Hall, MPB 10-15
Prime, John, MPB 25-30
Rush Street, MPB 25-30
Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, MPB 10-15, MPB 20-25
Skyscraper (Building), MPB 10-15, MPB 30-35
St. Benedict’s, MPB 0-5
St. Paul, Minnesota, MPB 35-40
Sweet Caroline, MPB 0-5
University of Illinois at Chicago Circle, MPB 0-5
Vietnam, MPB 15-20
Vietnam War, MPB 10-15, MPB 15-20
White House, MPB 10-15
Wright Junior College, MPB 0-5


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