08/15/2023 3:33 pm
By Sara Myers, Digital Media & Communications Specialist
This year celebrates fifty years since the class of 1973 graduated from Rockford College (now Rockford University). Graduates from this golden grad class shared stories with us on why they are proud to call Rockford their alma mater.
High school sweethearts Dave Tanaglia and Barb Ragnar (now Tanaglia) met at Auburn High School in Rockford. For their first year of college, they chose separate schools.
Dave received an athletic scholarship for swimming at RC, which secured his decision to stay in Rockford, he said.
Barb originally went to Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois during her freshman year, but said she quickly realized a big campus was not for her. So, she decided to join her boyfriend —now husband — and other friends from Auburn at Rockford College.
“Besides David, there were a number of other people from our class in high school (at Rockford College),” Barb said. “It was almost like going to high school. It was a familiar environment.”
Aside from the social experience, Barb said she appreciated the visiting professors.
“As an economics major, I took a lot of history and English classes,” she said. “I remember one year we had one from France and he had lived through World War II. One of my economics professors was very bright, had a photographic memory.”
After getting her economics degree, Barb said she moved on to pursue a career in banking. Later she would get her Master of Library Science and switch careers.
While Barb progressed in her career, Dave used his Biology degree to become a veterinarian.
The couple later married after their time at Rockford College and eventually had two daughters.
“We both have had successful lives,” Barb said. “We want to give back to the university because we really feel that this is a place that has a lot to give people. We want to make sure that it stays successful in the future.”
Barry Smith said he chose Rockford College after being influenced by his mother, an alumna from the class of 1939.
Some of his fondest memories from the Rockford College days include special people like his academic advisor Dr. Victor Crawford. He said he also remembers the day he discovered that his sociology professor was actually his mother’s roommate during her time at RC.
He even remembers getting to sing in the U.S. Presidential Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C. in January 1973 with RC’s Regent Singers.
Smith graduated with his Bachelor of Arts in Biology in 1973. He would later receive his doctoral degree in Plant Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
Although he studied biology, Smith said he spent his entire career working in the Chicago advertising market through retirement.
“I have valued my original liberal arts education, it has allowed me to do different things without having to be specifically trained in something,” Smith said.
Now, Smith lives with his husband John Hobbs in North Carolina, where they live close to Hobbs’ grandchildren.
This story was featured in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of Catalyst.
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