11 August 2022 Toward Compassionate Global Citizenship, Hertzfeld Endows Study Abroad Fund By Natalia St. Lawrence' 15

Patricia Hertzfeld has established an endowed fund for study abroad opportunities.

In fond memory of Kurt M. Hertzfeld Jr. ’66, Kathleen Higgins Hertzfeld and Mamie Higgins, Patricia Hertzfeld has endowed a scholarship that will provide financial assistance for students studying abroad. The “Hertzfeld-Higgins Memorial Scholarship” is a tribute to Patricia’s happy, blended family.

An educator, Patricia trusts in the transformative power of global education. “I believe that exposing people to other cultures firsthand can be a life-changing experience. If someone can empathize with others who are different, peace and compromise may ensue. Ignorance leads to fear and the inability to solve problems that meet everyone’s needs,” she says.

“I don’t expect the program at Hobart and William Smith to lead to world peace, but I know that experience will make participants better world citizens. It is a start.”

The endowed fund allows students to study at prestigious world universities or embark on HWS faculty-led programs. It is also important to Patricia to provide students with resources to fully enjoy the cultural and historic offerings of another country, including the time before and after the study abroad term.

Patricia’s late husband Kurt studied economics at the Colleges. On campus, Kurt held a work study position at the Post Office, where he met his future wife, Kathleen Higgins, who worked at HWS Dining Services. 

Kurt Hertzfeld, Kathleen Hertzfeld, Paul Siga and Mamie Higgins in 1967

Kurt M. Hertzfeld Jr. ’66, Kathleen Higgins Hertzfeld, Paul J. Sigas ’66 and Mamie Higgins in 1967.

The Higgins family connection to Geneva, N.Y. can be traced across two generations; starting with Nancy and Molly Higgins, who emigrated to the city from Ireland. When the pair became settled in the community, Molly (who married Joe McDonough) brought their nieces, first Mamie, then Kathleen, to live with them.

Kurt and Kathleen married in 1966. Shortly after, Kurt was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968.

After having two beautiful children, Mary and Elon, Kathleen passed away following a battle with cancer. Patricia and Kurt married later in life. After Kathleen’s death, the Higgins family and Geneva, N.Y. remained an important part of their lives, and the lives of their children, who Patricia later adopted. 

A beloved sister and aunt, Maime also held the title of Mary’s godmother. Patricia and Kurt remained close to Maime throughout her life.

When Kurt died in 2002, Patricia decided a scholarship was the perfect way to honor his memory.  

“Kurt loved his time at Hobart. He established friendships that lasted his whole life and with whom I still correspond. The Colleges provided work opportunities for many people who emigrated from Ireland to Geneva (like Kathleen) and the impact of the Colleges on the economic health of the area must have been felt by all,” Patricia says.

Patricia received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. There, after she held an internship in institutional studies, she joined the office staff. She met Kurt during his time working in the university’s budget office after he received his MBA from University of Massachusetts.  Though retired from teaching at the college level, Patricia remains a teacher at heart. When people ask if she misses being in the classroom, she usually jokes, “I usually get an opportunity to teach something to someone every day. However, I don’t have to prepare lectures or grade exams anymore.”