Psychology professor shares appreciation of New Orleans school

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By Regis L. Roberts

The life and academic experience psychology Professor Pat Crane gained from her two years at Ursuline Academy in New Orleans made her who she is today.

She has shared her gratitude of the oldest women’s school in America through a three-part essay featured on the academy’s Web site, “Spotlight on Alumnae.”

Ursuline Academy, a college preparatory school and convent founded by the Sisters of the Order of Saint Ursula in 1727, was well-known as a difficult school to be accepted into, Crane said.

Just to keep up, she said, she had to study four hours each day.

“When you went in, the assumption was made you were going to college,” she said, which helped her achieve academic success when she went to Louisiana State University  from fall 1966 to  spring 1970 after graduating from Ursuline in 1966.

Crane said she kept up her study habits of four hours of daily study at LSU and maintained a 4.0 grade-point average. When she cut it to two hours of study, she was still able to earn a 3.9, leaving her with two extra hours of time on her hands.

That time, however, was not spent worrying about how to get into the “in crowd,” a value she learned at Ursuline.

Crane, unlike her fellow students, was not well off, but the uniforms worn by the girls and the value of modesty in not flaunting wealth made for an environment at Ursuline that was not like clique-driven public schools.

The  first question asked for the “Spotlight on Alumnae” essay asks how the academy prepared her for the work she is doing now. Living in the segregated South all of her life — she was born in Memphis, Tenn., and lived in Florida from the ages of 7 to 14 — she said in the essay and in an interview Wednesday that she was very grateful that Ursuline was integrated; three of the girls in her graduating class were black.

Not only that, many of her classmates were from places like Honduras and Mexico. Being exposed to different cultures helped her when she began working in San Antonio with its highly diverse population.


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