Michela Coffaro, Interview with Melissa Newman, 2022


Mildred (Michela) Coffaro (WLA, Mundelein College 1963 Class Photograph)

Interview Transcript


Michela Coffaro, Interview with Melissa Newman, 2022


Michela Coffaro, known as Mildred during her time at Mundelein, graduated in 1963 with a degree in sociology. Influenced by her Catholic upbringing and education, Michela talks of her brief stint joining the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). Though that path did not last, Michela continued to have a high regard for Mundelein and the BVMs that taught there. She talks of how the BVMs made opportunities available to the students and saw the value of everyone as an individual. They were genuine women who lived by the values that they taught to their students, and to this day Michela sees the difference one person can make through words and actions. With these ideals in mind, Michela ran for and was elected as Student Body President while at Mundelein because she wanted to make a difference for the women on campus. She values the events she helped organize and participated in because it brought people together and gave everyone purpose and connection. Michela also remembers that professors had politicians come in to speak to classes, which was significant given the contentious climate of the Vietnam War that was going on.

Content Note: These collections may include language or descriptions of events that may be upsetting to some users.

Date Created

January 31, 2022


Michela Coffaro, previously called Mildred, was born and raised on the north side of Chicago. Her parents were born in Sicily, but met and married in the United States. Before moving to America, Michela’s mother was a nun. This, combined with her Catholic education at Immaculata and then Mundelein, influenced Michela to join the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, after three months, she realized she could do more good work outside of the order than within it and left the order to return to her studies at Mundelein.

Michela was a commuter student majoring in sociology. She attribute sociology classes with Sister Mary Ligouri as inspiring her to go into social work after graduation. The values instilled in Michela at Mundelein have stayed with her throughout her life and career: Through her time at Mundelein, the importance of valuing each person as an individuals with the ability to make a difference through their words and actions was deeply instilled in Michela.

After graduating from Mundelein in 1963, Michela went on to become a certified social worker and then got her doctorate in psychology. In the 1970s, she was one of 18 picked for contributing to her community in the last 50 years by helping change the laws regarding child abuse.

Interviewer Biography

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

Time Log

[0:00 - 5:00]: Introductions, family background, how Michela ended up at Mundelein, and joining the BVMs.

[5:00 - 10:00]: Familial background in social work, classes she took, and finding what she wanted to do.

[10:00 - 15:00]: Influential professors to her, Young Democrats club, and being student body president.

[15:00 - 20:00]: Student body president, meeting politicians, and taking her friends back home.

[20:00 - 25:00]: Social activities on campus, Loyola and Mundelein interactions, and going beyond what’s in reach.

[25:00 - 30:00]: Campaigning for student body president.

[30:00 - 35:00]: Making a difference, values in life, and events at Mundelein.

[35:00 - 40:00]: Events put on, Mundelein songs, and plays and productions.

[40:00 - 45:00]: Sister Ann Ida Gannon, four values she runs on, and changes to campus when she attended.

[45:00 - 50:00]: Politics on campus, John F. Kennedy, Vietnam War, and life values.

[50:00 - 55:00]: Student body president, how the interview would be used, changing child abuse laws, and Mercedes McCambridge.

[55:00 - 56:19]: Wrap up.


Austria, MC 5-10

BVMs (Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary), MC 0-5

Carson Pirie Scott, MC 5-10

Catholic Church, MC 35-40

Chicago, MC 0-5, MC 5-10, MC 15-20, MC 30-35, MC 40-45, MC 45-50

Daley, Mayor Richard J., MC 45-50

Dubuque, Iowa, MC 0-5, MC 5-10

Excuse Me, Your Life Is Waiting, MC 50-55

Gannon, Sister Ann Ida, MC 35-40, MC 40-45

Germany, MC 5-10

Grabhorn, Lynn, MC 50-55

Immaculata High School, MC 0-5, MC 25-30

Kaiser Fraser, MC 15-20

Kennedy, John F., MC 45-50

Liguori, Sister, MC 5-10, MC 10-15

Lindquist, MC 10-15

Loyola University Chicago, MC 20-25

McCambridge, Mercedes, MC 50-55

Milton, Delaware, MC 0-5

Mundelein College, MC 0-5, MC 5-10, MC 10-15, MC 20-25, MC 25-30, MC 30-35, MC 35-40, MC 40-45, MC 45-50, MC 50-55, MC 55-60

Palatine, MC 0-5

Ruez, Miguel, MC 40-45

Sicily, Italy, MC 0-5

The Sound of Music, MC 5-10

Texas, MC 20-25

United States of America, MC 0-5

Vietnam War, MC 45-50

Young Democrats Club, MC 10-15


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