Leyden Alumni “20th Wall of Fame” Notes
by Beverly (Kedzierski Heart) D’Urso, Ph.D.
May 10, 2007
Copyright (c) Beverly D’Urso 2007
Good afternoon everyone. I feel very pleased to have the opportunity to speak you today. Let me start with my background.
My parents, both of Polish decent and culture, got married while my father served in World War II. They bought a new house in River Grove on Fullerton Avenue, just before my birth. I lived there, until I went to college, and sold it in 2002 after my parents had died. I view their deaths as the most brutal experiences of my life. I know they would have attended today, if they could.
I had a loving childhood, but a rough time when my alcoholic grandfather came to live with us, and we didn’t have room for him. I wish I would have expressed my feelings to my parents, and not kept them to myself.
I attended Rhodes School, a few blocks from our house, until I started high school at East Leyden in 1967. In many ways, the school seems similar to the way it did when I attended.
I took mostly college-prep classes, but I also enjoyed art and playing contrabass clarinet in the concert band. I became president of the French club and a student leader, which helped me qualify for my first real job at the Franklin Park Park District.
In high school, I seemed rather shy, and I think this may have made other people see me as unfriendly. I never felt a part of the really popular crowd. I had boyfriends, but remained celibate in order to make sure I could achieve my many goals before becoming a mother.
One of my favorite memories of high school occurred when, one day, the majority of the girls decided to wear pants to school, not allowed at the time. The school could not send hundreds of girls home, and we permanently changed the school dress code.
The summer of my junior year, I helped form a group to study in Europe. I learned that teenagers around the world have much in common.
I ended up as valedictorian of my class, and, even though no one in my family had gone to college, I went to Augustana, in Rock Island, IL. My Leyden math teacher, Anton Toft told me about it. We still communicate as of this year, when he turned 90 years old.
Thankfully, I also stayed friends with my closest friend from Leyden. We make it a point to see each other often, even though we live on opposite coasts.
I had lots of fun in college and, in my senior year, I studied in the Far East. I only appreciated my classes in philosophy and religion years later, because at the time, I viewed Mathematics as the soul of the universe.
Back then, computers seemed almost unheard of, except in a certain businesses, so my college did not offer computer classes when I first started.
So, I decided to go to graduate school in computer science because I saw it as a new area, and a direction that not many people were taking. I remember my college adviser asking me where I would most like to live. I told him that I despised the cold and snow of Chicago winters. He suggested a university in Louisiana, where I joined a Ph.D. program in 1975.
I recall how I couldn’t cash my first teaching assistant check at a local grocery store without the signature of a husband, which I did not have at the time. I feel pleased that times have since changed for women.
I soon discovered that the summers in Louisiana felt worse than the winters in Chicago, so I took a summer job out West and fell in love with California. While there, I searched for a Stanford professor who would work with me in Artificial Intelligence, and I completed my master’s degree with a Stanford Cognitive Psychology professor.
This led me to my alternate career with lucid dreaming, and opened me to the paranormal. Briefly, lucid dreaming means to know you dream while you dream. We call you “lucid” when you see a monster and say, “This can’t be real. I must be dreaming!”
I completed my Ph.D. in computer science in 1983, and after some government research, I helped form a startup company, where I oversaw ten million dollars a year to do work for Boeing, based upon my dissertation. I learned so much about business and got the travel the world!
Because I had saved money, I bought a house on my own just before the real estate in California went sky-high. Other than for education or buying a home, I don’t believe in going into debt. I always pay off any credit card balances in full every month, and I often buy things used and ignore fashion.
By this time, I realized how my lifestyle did not leave me room for a family. I took a tenure-track position as a professor at a local college so I’d have a stable life and more time off. I also taught workshops on what I call “lucid living.”
In retrospect, having had relationship problems, I wish I had listened to my mother when she told me to consider the background and family of the guys I dated, along with how they dealt with their issues.
I finally did find the love of my life in 1992. My husband, Chris, and I, married for over thirteen years, share the same values, and he comes from a wonderful family who live near us. We had our son, Adrian in 1995. However, I don’t advise waiting so long to have children.
I decided to become a full-time mother, which I see as extremely valuable. In the past twelve years, I have written many papers and presentations on my dream work, but I have had the good fortune to focus mostly on having a healthy and balanced family.
I learned to cook wholesome meals, I exercise, do yoga, and meditate regularly. Our family enjoys time at our cabin in the Sierra Mountains swimming and snow skiing. Every three months, I take a three-night retreat to camp by myself and rejuvenate.
I know that processed foods, such as refined sugar, can cause many problems. I ask you to beware of drugs, including prescriptions, and, if you do only one thing: AVOID ALL SODA completely!
In conclusion, I feel grateful that I worked hard, had such an exciting career, invested wisely, and married a very smart, loving, and successful man.
I regard having and raising our son as the highlight of my life, and giving to the people I love as definitely most important.
You can read more about me and my work on my web site: http://beverly.durso.org. Thank you.