Who is the real Rondeau?

Caroline Broderick, Features Editor


In many ways, Ann Rondeau’s life began when her father’s ended.


Coming from a “small, intact family,” Rondeau grew up with her sister, who now resides in Wisconsin, her mother and her father. When Rondeau was in high school, her father passed away at the age of 43. Since then, her mother has remarried.


“My sister was diligent. She studied. She was in honors society and had straight A’s,” said Rondeau. “She was the disciplined student. I was the free-spirited student in our family. My first draft was my last draft.”


Though different from her sister, her free spirit was supported strongly by her parents and was allowed to grow in any direction she liked. “My mother and father and my mother and [step-dad] were people who respected us as two young women and did everything they could to support us.”


The intact family did not always experience blissful glee and joy together. On and off illness struck the family, but Rondeau’s resilience shined through. “Some illness in the family over my lifetime. Not by me, but others in my family. But you work with that, you grow from that, you learn about resilience from that.”


As she grew older, Rondeau attended Eisenhower College, a small liberal arts school, which she described as “experimental and fabulous.” Different from typical schools at the time, the college had a cross-disciplinary curriculum that enabled Rondeau and her peers to gain a well-rounded education.

“After that, I couldn’t find a job,” said Rondeau. “My sister was on a full scholarship for the Navy to become a Navy nurse. She suggested I think about the Navy. I said, ‘Well, I don’t know.’ Then one day I took a trip over to the Air Force recruiter and took their test and I just bombed it.”


“The next day, I went and took the Navy test and aced it. Got the highest score for a woman in the state of New York. I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I’m getting closer.’ Then the recruiter had my mother’s maiden name and I thought, ‘Hey! Maybe I’m getting closer.’ They offered me commission. I got the chance to lead and do great things in the Navy. I grew and had a good Navy career. The Navy sent me to Georgetown for my Master’s, then I went to Northern Illinois University myself. I made flag, made one star, then made two, then was a three-star longer than usual.”


After school, Rondeau’s step-father died and she took the responsibility of caring for her mother. The idea and value of their intact family never died. “We merged households,” said Rondeau. “She was terrific, just wonderful. I miss her a lot. She was cognitively brilliant up until the day she died. She was diagnosed with cancer in her spinal cord and died 12 weeks after that.”


Her story then catches up with her and brings her to College of DuPage. Initially, Rondeau had little knowledge of the college. She found herself a little hesitant after researching, but decided to forge ahead regardless.


“I said, ‘I don’t know about this,’” said Rondeau. “So I called a mentor of mine, a retired four-star who has known me for a long, long time. He said, ‘Ann, you’ve done this five times.’ I have relieved people five times before this. He said, ‘You’ve done this, this is what you do. This is God’s calling for you.’”


From that discussion, Rondeau embraced her abilities and agreed to be considered for the position as COD’s next president.


“And now we’re here today. I like to kayak. I like to go to baseball games. I like to hike. I hate to run, which was a problem in the Navy. I like being around young folks. I am intellectually curious. I’m a liberal arts major in my heart but spent a lot of time with STEM. I love music of all kinds. I like the fusion stuff. I like to travel a bit.”