Jane (Bujanauskas) Pogoda ’74

Jane (Bujanauskas) Pogoda ’74

Jane (Bujanauskas) Pogoda ’74, the first in her family to attend a four-year college, was a part of Fairfield’s first foray into the coeducational world and all that came with it.

“Not everyone was happy that we were on campus,” Pogoda said about the 223 women who matriculated in the fall of 1970 fitting into the culture. “Students from older classes and Jesuits were reticent about women on campus.”

But after an adjustment, Pogoda, a chemistry major and a member of the American Chemical Society Club as a student, said she enjoyed her studies and liked having many Jesuits for professors.

“I had opportunities to grow as a person and the Jesuits were a big part of that,” she said.

Pogoda grew up in the Connecticut valley town of Ansonia and was raised by a first-generation Lithuanian father and a Polish mother who strongly encouraged higher education. She found her way to Fairfield based on its reputation.

“My sister studied nursing through the program at St. Vincent’s and knew some Fairfield professors. Even then, Fairfield was highly regarded, especially for challenging academics,” Pogoda said.

At the time, Bannow Science Center had just opened on campus and lab classes were an important part of the chemistry curriculum. Likewise there were core courses, and Pogoda remembers one particular Spanish course especially well because it’s where she met her husband of nearly 40 years, Don Pogoda ’73.

“Don wanted to find out my name because in Spanish class we all went by Spanish names. So after an exam, he came up to hand it in at the same time as me to see my name on the front of the blue book,” Pogoda said with a laugh.

The pair went to lunch, attended basketball games and would hang out with friends in Loyola. Then Don asked her on a date, borrowing a friend’s car to take Jane to a Valentine’s Day dinner on the town in 1971. They’ve been together ever since.

After excelling through several semesters of mathematics and science courses, Pogoda graduated from Fairfield and went on for her master’s degree in chemistry from Wesleyan University.

She found she was well prepared for the male-dominated world of chemistry.

Post-master’s, Pogoda’s first job as a “bench chemist” was at Allied Chemical where she performed experiments in a lab as a part of the research and development division. But when she and Don started a family, the world of toxic compounds wasn’t the best place for an expectant mother. So, Pogoda took on raising her children full-time — she and Don have two sons, Donald and Daniel, who both went to Fairfield Prep and grew up around the corner from campus.

“We returned to the town of Fairfield to buy our first home,” Pogoda said. “By taking our sons to the women’s and men’s basketball games, we stayed in touch with the University.”

Now, Pogoda maintains her University ties by attending Mass in the Egan Chapel, traveling abroad with the Alumni Association and staying in touch with friends through events and reunions.

“I’m especially close with my roommates from Fairfield. It’s really just such a special bond that we have,” Pogoda said.

Currently, Jane partners with Don, a dentist in Old Greenwich, and helps to run his office.

On working with her husband and keeping their marriage strong, Pogoda said: “We have our past with Fairfield and we are both practicing Catholics. Religion and faith are important. He’s one of my best friends.”

To the Fairfield women Stags of today, Pogoda offers a bit of advice: “They have so many opportunities — take advantage of them! The world is your oyster. Go out there and enjoy what you do. Keep an open mind and hard work always pays off. Enjoy all that awaits.”