Jennifer DaneJennifer Dane was raised in a small town in West Texas, where she attended public school her entire childhood. She always dreamed of going to college, but with a lack of funds, she went into the workforce instead.

At 23 years old, Jennifer joined the United States Air Force and was assigned as an Intelligence Analyst. She had the opportunity to work with United State Air Forces Southern Command focusing on Latin America and also working with the A-10's and Middle Eastern Intelligence. While serving in the United States Air Force, Jennifer, a first-generation college student, obtained an associates degree in Intelligence Studies from the Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Bethel University, and a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice from Arizona State University.

After fulfilling her military commitment, she decided to pursue her life-long passion, education. Jennifer was admitted into The Ohio State's Educational Studies Ph.D. program and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Education Policy with an emphasis on U.S. history both in early America and in modern America. Jennifer is currently working on a research project that looks at territorial Arizona (1863-1912) and the foundations of the first successful private and public schools established by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. She also currently works as an assistant kindergarten teacher at a private school in San Mateo, California.

Jennifer continually strives to change the world through learning, engaging with other, and honoring her commitment to leaving the world a better place than it was before she was born.

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Dane: My name is Jennifer Dane and I am a third year Education Policy PhD student at The Ohio State University. My dissertation is focused on the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the establishment of early schools in territorial Arizona from 1870 – 1912.

What made you interested in studying the Sisters of St. Joseph?

During the 2017 winter break, I went to an art installation at the Tucson Museum of Art. As I was roaming the galleries, I discovered an exhibit that featured some of the earliest schools in Arizona and it piqued my interest. When I returned home that evening, I started researching more about schools during Territorial Arizona and the Sisters found me. The diary of Sister Monica Corrigan read like a movie script and I was pulled in from page one. The treacherous conditions that these women faced on their trek to Arizona fascinated me. As I uncovered more and more information about these women and their accomplishments in Arizona, I could not help but wonder why their history was never told. I moved to Arizona in 2010, lived down the street from St. Mary’s Hospital [a Tucson, AZ hospital founded in 1880 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet], and drove past the remnants of the first schools in Arizona, but I was never told about the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Although I am not Catholic myself, I feel that it was my duty to shed light on the accomplishments of religious women and reveal the hidden story of the first successful school in Territorial Arizona.   

How have you studied the early Sisters in Arizona?

Besides perusing the archives in Los Angeles, reading books associated with the history of the CSJs, and reading many other publications, I was fortunate enough to be invited to join Sister Mary Murphy and a group of Sisters as they embarked on the annual trek to Arizona that commemorated the lives of the early CSJs. Also, this summer, I had the pleasure of spending time with many Sisters at the Carondelet Center in Los Angeles and getting a glimpse into what life is like for modern Sisters and why the history is so important to them.

After completing your dissertation, do you have future research plans or goals associated with your work on the Sisters of St. Joseph?

Yes! I would like to eventually turn my dissertation into a book. I feel that it is important to honor the legacies and memories of those who have come before us, especially those who were left out of the narrative for so many years.

Anything else you would like to share?   

I never imaged myself researching parochial education, the Catholic faith, the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph, or connecting with modern Sisters, but it has been a fruitful journey. Every day, I am more in awe of the community of Sisters and the impact that they have made and are still making. I am also honored and thankful that many have opened their hearts and ears and answered my countless questions and random inquiries, especially archivist Sister Patricia Rose Shanahan and Sister Maureen Petrone.

To find the most up to date information on Jennifer's research, you can go to her website, www.jenniferldane.com.