Dog’s best friend: Kathryn (Jurewicz) Puishys ’81
Alumna chooses alternative to traditional business career and finds fulfillment with family life and community service.
When Kathi (Jurewicz) Puishys ’81 was a high school senior looking at colleges, she had just a couple of requirements. First, she wanted to attend a good business school; and second, the Wayne, New Jersey, native wanted the opportunity to experience a new community and meet new people.
“Bryant was perfect,” she says. “It had a great business reputation, and it was far enough away that I’d meet a more diverse crowd, but still close enough to go home for holidays. It felt right to all of us when we walked on campus for the first time.”
Small campus, big opportunities
Kathi threw herself into college life with gusto. She focused on academics and getting to know her classmates at first and then began exploring other interests, such as the campus radio station, WJMF.
“We had so much fun at WJMF,” says Kathi. “I hosted a program where I played all kinds of music and talked about anything that popped into my mind. In my senior year, I became the music director.”
To meet more people, she pledged Sigma Lambda Theta in her freshman year, and during the time when all the sororities and fraternities were initiating new members, she met Joe Puishys ’80, who was pledging Delta Sigma Chi.
“We kind of noticed each other at campus gatherings,” says Kathi. “But he waited until his senior year to actually ask me out!”
Once he asked her out, however, Joe pulled out all the stops. Shortly after graduating, Kathi and Joe got married and moved to Seekonk, Mass. At the time, she was working as a buyer for Butler Shoes, but that didn’t last long. “Joe got a promotion at AlliedSignal that we couldn’t pass up, and we ended up moving to Troy, Ohio,” she says. “Shortly after that, our daughter was born, and I decided I wanted to be home to take care of my family. Joe’s position in his company made it possible.” Joe is currently the president of environmental and combustion controls at Honeywell, Inc.
Finding a way to make a difference
Kathi spent the next 14 years in the fulfilling role of mom and homemaker, but, in 2001, while living in Huntington Beach, California, she realized that her children, in middle and high school at the time, were becoming much more self-sufficient.
“Shortly after 9/11, I was in a waiting room with my children, and I saw a magazine ad seeking puppy raiser families in southern California for Guide Dogs of America,” she says. “At the time I was, as most Americans were, looking for a way to make a difference, and because I love animals, I thought this was the perfect way for me to do so.”
Although Kathi’s first guide dog puppy, Waverly, had a tragically short life because of a congenital defect, her second dog, Autumn, wowed the Guide Dogs of America formal trainers with her focus, temperament, and intelligence. “The organization decided that instead of using her skills to assist one person, Autumn should be used to breed more puppies with her special talents,” says Kathi. Now that Autumn has produced three litters of pups, she’s become a permanent member of the Puishys family.
Autumn joins daughter Katelyn, a 2009 graduate of Tufts University, now a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, and son Joseph III, who just finished his freshman year at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. When not training dogs, Kathi enjoys traveling around the world. In fall 2008, she spent a couple of weeks exploring Turkey and Greece with her husband and headed to Italy with a girlfriend in late May 2009 for three weeks.
When she returns home to Huntington Beach, California, from her trip, she plans to continue in the puppy raising program for Guide Dogs of America. “You don’t have to work in an office to be successful and have a positive life,” says Kathi. “No matter what you choose to do with your time, you can still help the world and your community.”
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