Kathleen Brennan: Building Strong, Independent Women of Mercy

Michelle H. Daino
Since 1999, Kathleen Brennan has been empowering, encouraging, and helping to shape the successful journeys of young women at the Mount. As she prepares to retire, she remembers her career at the Academy which began as a math teacher and then transitioned the Mathematics Department Chairperson after two years.
“When I first started, we didn’t have classes in Statistics, Computer Science, Financial Math, or Economics.  I’m proud that I was able to expand the math department’s offerings with courses that are relevant. In addition, both our SAT and AP scores improved during my tenure, but that says more about the teachers in my department than me,” said Ms. Brennan.
“I also thought it was extremely important for our students to get off the hill and use what they were learning in the classroom to tackle real world problems,” she added. “I’ve been fortunate to mentor students in Euro Challenge, Fed Challenge, Quality of Life Innovations Competition, and the Wharton Investment Competition.”
“We have an amazing group of students who have done quite well in these competitions. For some of them, the experiences have piqued an interest in economics, finance, or business. But more than that they have developed their critical thinking and public speaking skills and gained confidence in the process,” said Ms. Brennan.
“I also believe that young women need to be financially literate and I’m very happy that we incorporated financial literacy as a graduation requirement. Women need to know how to manage their money and not rely on a man to make financial decisions for them,” she stated.
“I also think it’s important for girls to have female role models in areas that have historically been dominated by men. (It’s particularly important to me since I worked in a very male dominated field before I came to the Mount.),” she said. “Research suggests that traditional gender roles can have a significant impact on job choice, and I’ve been able to introduce our girls to women who work in finance, business, and economics.”
Ms. Brennan’s favorite Mount traditions occur in September and June: “Young freshmen who are trepidatious and unsure of themselves are welcomed into the Mount by their peers, and then four years later, the faculty celebrate them as they graduate as accomplished young women. I love to see the transformation and proud that I have had some part in it.”
When she considers the legacy she will leave behind at the Mount, she said, “Building strong, confident, independent women of Mercy who recognize they have value regardless of their GPA.”
Retirement Plans: “Traveling across the country to visit the National Parks, spending time with my husband and grandchildren, working to increase financial literacy among the youth in my community, and getting up later than 6 am!”
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