Barbara Politano drove from Calumet Park to attend Moraine Valley in the 1970s—a number of years after she finished high school. “We were putting our children through college, and my husband was working on his graduate degree, so I decided it was my time, too,” she said.

Politano and a friend enrolled in the college’s Returning Women’s Program. “I was quite impressed with my teacher—her approach and her understanding. She really encouraged me to continue my education.” Politano did just that, graduating summa cum laude from Saint Xavier University at the age of 59.

While at Moraine Valley, she recalled an environmental science class during which the teacher would take the students to the Cal-Sag to identify the various plant species in the area. “I was the older student, and I was always watching out that they were ok. It was like I was a mother with her children.”  She also was among the original volunteers answering the hotline at the South Suburbia Crisis Center, which first opened in an old farmhouse on campus. Because of her experience at Moraine Valley, she continued to volunteer for 25 years, 18 of which were on the center’s board.

Enrolling in creative writing classes at Moraine Valley over the years has been something she really enjoys. “I continue to write my memoirs. Doing that makes me appreciate everything in my life,” she said. Coming back onto campus was exciting for Politano. “The expansion is very impressive. It’s wonderful to look at, but more so because it means the college can offer more educational opportunities,” she said. “This college was always a special place, and thanks to Moraine Valley, I learned how to use a computer.”


Editor’s note: The Returning Women’s Program was created by Dr. Diane Horwitz in 1975. Dr. Horwitz recently presented the Moraine Valley Library with many original documents and photos about the program to be housed in the Library’s Archives. For more information, contact Katie Cheever, Archives Librarian, at (708) 608-3239 or