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Alumni Spotlight

Marcus Montisano ’23

Marcus Montisano

A full-circle moment

By Lillian Snortland

When Marcus Montisano ’23 took pictures at graduation in May 2023 with his mother, the celebratory moment was heartwarming; the moment also brought his family’s story with Goucher College full circle. “Thirty-six years after my mother protested Goucher’s admittance of men to the school, I graduated from her alma mater,” Marcus says cheekily.

His mother, Denise Fellin Montisano ’87, attended Goucher in 1986 and witnessed the college’s transition to coeducation after 101 years. Her passionate protesting of the co-ed transition has become an ironic joke shared between the two of them.

There was more context to the protests than many people realize, Denise says. “What is not often considered in the history of Goucher’s conversion to a co-ed institution is what happened the year before,” she explains. “1985 was the Goucher centennial. During the centennial, a lot of time, energy, and money were spent celebrating the education of women. We felt empowered and proud of our education at an institution that valued us and our education.”

Now, Denise has had the pleasure of watching her son take great advantage of a liberal arts education. At Goucher, Marcus swam as a student athlete while completing the 3+2 dual bachelor’s degree program, spending three years studying physics at Goucher and two years studying mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He also followed in his mother’s footsteps when he was elected to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society during his fourth year. When signing his name in the ledger book during a society ceremony, Marcus found his mother’s signature from all those years ago.

Denise, who became a doctor, asserts that Goucher was the perfect fit for them both. “Goucher set my foundation. When I arrived at Goucher, I knew I wanted to go to medical school. … Being at a liberal arts college gave me the education I needed to reach that goal and also broadened my horizons. One of my favorite classes was art history. I delved into the world of Jane Austen and became a decent writer. I worked in the Health Center and babysat for Sally Baum. I am the person I am because of Goucher. Even today, when I step on campus, I feel at home. A professor remembered me after 30 years,” says Denise. “Goucher is where my path in life became clear, and I think the same is true for Marcus.”

With physics and engineering degrees, Marcus now works at Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc., a contractor with the Department of Energy supporting the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. And while Denise has seen phases of Goucher’s history pass, and multiple iterations of the Goucher Gopher arise (Mortimer is her favorite), the core of what makes Goucher special to the Montisanos remains unchanged.

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