10 things you didn't know about Kathleen Hetherington, Howard Community College president

Kathleen Hetherington is the president of Howard Community College.
Kathleen Hetherington is the president of Howard Community College. (Courtesy of Howard Community College)

Kathleen "Kate" C. Hetherington just embarked on her 10th year as the fourth president of Howard Community College in Columbia. The Philadelphia native has been honored for her leadership by the Association of Community College Trustees, among other organizations, but she still finds time to pursue her hobbies and passions.

She recently shared some interesting facts about herself, such as her appreciation for jazz and devotion to an iconic quiz show.

1. The Community College of Philadelphia played a big role in her life.

A Spanish 101 professor at the college paired Hetherington, then Kathleen Carey, with a student named John so they could share a textbook. They soon became a couple, and will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary in November. Hetherington eventually returned to the school as a staff member and spent 22 years there before leaving in 1999 to become vice president of student services at HCC.

2. She’s a baseball fanatic.

Hetherington is a diehard Phillies fan but also has room in her heart for the Baltimore Orioles. During baseball season, she scours Major League stats daily in The Baltimore Sun.

3. She ran in the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006.

She runs on a high school track near her Columbia home and mostly competes in half-marathons and 5K and 10K races nowadays. She isn’t fast, she says, but still manages to regularly place in competitions since there are few women racing in her age bracket.

4. She has a large extended family.

While she and her husband have no children, Hetherington has five younger siblings, 17 nieces and nephews, and 20 great-nieces and great-nephews. The close-knit clan is spread across Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia but gets together frequently.

5. She co-owned an ice cream shop.

Before they were married, Hetherington and her future husband scooped Haagen-Dazs for a year in South Philly. She spent her days as a financial aid officer at the Community College of Philadelphia and her nights at the store. When the owner of their building decided to sell, the couple closed up shop and used their profits to elope.
Her favorite ice cream flavor? Chocolate.

6. She sewed her own clothes for years.

From high school through her 30s, she made almost everything for her wardrobe and even tackled challenging projects like wool suits. She once sewed a wedding gown and veil from a Vogue pattern for one of her two sisters.

7. She records ‘Jeopardy!’ episodes to watch later.

She’s learned a lot of valuable and trivial facts from the long-running quiz show and hates to miss it, she says. Geography is her most challenging category when she plays along at home.

8. She was a radio disc jockey at Penn State.

Hetherington hardly ever spoke on the air since “it wasn’t cool to be gabbing away on a jazz show,” she recalls. The station manager even had to remind her to announce the call letters. John Coltrane’s version of “My Favorite Things” was one of her go-to songs since, at nearly 14 minutes long, it gave her time to do homework.

9. She’s an art lover.

Visual arts, performing arts, literature, music — she enjoys it all. She prefers plays to movies, has no wall space left to display art at home (but is making room for her growing pottery collection) and attends the Cape May Jazz Festival in New Jersey twice a year. Her favorite authors include Ann Tyler, Richard Russo and Jhumpa Lahiri.

10. She loves Maryland seafood.

She often orders Maryland crab cakes when dining out, sampling them in New Jersey, Florida and many other places. But only Maryland restaurants serve up a crab cake that is worthy of the name, she says; the others skimp on lump crabmeat and add too much filler for her taste.