Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2022

From classroom to community, these three Mercyhurst alumnae have spent a lifetime giving back. From left are Barbara Chambers ’60, Noel Jaeger Burgoyne ’57, and Barbara Brairton ’65.

Barb Brairton ’65, below right, with members of dorm council, from left, Margaret Ann Denial ‘65, Ann Marie McCarthy ‘65, and Judith Figaski ‘65.

‘Throwing Back’ “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You ned to be able to throw something back.” - Maya Angelou

By Deborah W. Morton

They weren’t raised together. They didn’t share classes or activities. They weren’t even friends. But hteir Mercy DNA is a perfect match. Mercyhurst alumnae Noel Jaeger Burgoyne ’57, Barbara Chambers ’ 60, and Barbara Brairton ’65 were taught by the Sisters of Mercy during their years on the Hill, an experience that each believes changed her life in many ways, but one profoundly: the desire to “throw something back.” Barbara Brairton ’65 No such thing as ‘no’ Barbara Brairton was an English major at Mercyhurst when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, when President John .FKennedy was assassinated, when the Vietnam War was raging, and when Congress was working on the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “Although we were a small, all-girls school, we were not sheltered from what was going on,” Brairton said. “The Sisters at the college in the ‘60s were strong, extremely intelligent women who kept pace with the world around them. Their example grounded me and allowed me to sink my roots deeply in my surroundings through service, but they also inspired me to question my faith, deepen it, and feel the responsibility to try to live it every day.” Sister Rita Brocke encouraged many of Brairton’s service endeavors during her years at Mercyhurst, including a trip to inner-city Chicago to gather census data. “I recall going from one tenement building to another, ” Brairto n said. “I vividl y remembe r one apartmen t I visite d where 14 people were living in two rooms. That experience had a profound ef ect on me.” Brairton went on to teach at Mercyhurst Preparatory School in the late ‘60s and, under the mentorship of Sister Gabriel Koch, became the f i rst

f nancial aid director at Mercyhurst University from 1969 to 1974. She earned her master’s degree in school counseling from John Carroll University and later served as a counselor at Villa Maria Academy and the North East School District. Throughout h erl ife, s hes ervedonn umerousb oards, h eadedm any committees and has yet to call it quits. In fact, she longs to do the work – not simply advise or make policy. That’s why, as board president of Meals on Wheels, she continues to deliver meals to seniors and the disabled even today. Whether lending her skills on a grand scale – serving three terms on the Board of Directors for Mercyhurst Prep, for instance – or more intimately, transporting Sisters at the Mercy Motherhouse to medical appointments, saying “no” has never been part of her vocabulary. NoelJaegerBurgoyne ’57 ‘Ageless Remarkable Erieite’ For Noel Jaeger Burgoyne, who majored in history and English at Mercyhurst, and later earned her master’s in English literature from Case Western Reserve University, her commitment to service is not unlike Brairton’s. She, too, held teaching jobs, including at Case Western, Mercyhurst, and Academy and McDowell high schools, the latter where her late husband, Charles, also taught for many years. She supplemented her employment with volunteer experiences, just as she had done throughout h ere ducation. In college, she was president of the Press Club, which she said did all the college’s publicity. She can remember wrapping presents at Christmas


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