Taking a Chance—and Paying it Forward: Dr. Joan Friedenberg ’73
“I looked at what was most important to me and thought about the role UC played in helping me get to where I am today.”
High school wasn’t easy for Joan Friedenberg.
As a teenager in the late 1960s, the Long Island native found herself grappling with family issues at the same time she “fell in with the wrong group of friends,” Friedenberg recalls. With academics on the back burner, her GPA suffered.
It wasn’t until late in her senior year that Friedenberg began to imagine college in her future. And after discovering Utica College and visiting “the peaceful, close-knit campus,” recalls Friedenberg, her college aspirations began to take shape.
“Utica took a chance on me, and it turned out to be the perfect combination of things I needed that I didn’t know I needed,” she says.
At UC, mentors like Professor Emerita of Anthropology Clara Nicholson and Political Science Professor Carolyn Adams helped Friedenberg discover a passion for international studies and linguistics and, for the first time, make graduate school seem within her reach.
Friedenberg went on to earn a master’s and Ph.D. in linguistics and bilingual education from the University of Illinois, which led to a prolific 30-year career as a linguistics professor, author, and international consultant specializing in the problems and needs of language minority populations.
In 2007, Friedenberg retired as a Professor Emerita from Southern Illinois University and now enjoys a busy “second career” as a singer and performer with her folk band, the PinkSlip Duo.
Today, after reflecting on her journey, Friedenberg says the choice to include Utica College in her estate plans felt like a natural way to pay it forward.
“I looked at what was most important to me and thought about the role UC played in helping me get to where I am today,” says Friedenberg.
Her gift, she says, is the best way to honor the mentors—and the College—that turned her life around.
“I hope my gift can help Utica College students like I was, who haven’t had a lot of breaks in life and can’t easily make it without the support of others,” she says.
“Utica College saw the potential in me when I didn’t see it in myself.”
To learn more about planned giving to Utica College and to explore our library of gift-planning resources, visit utica.edu/planningyourgift or contact Associate Vice President for Principal and Planned Gifts at 315-792-3489 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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