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A Minute with Friends: Don and Judy Collins

A Q&A with Don and Judy Collins, Caltech Y Board Members

What is your hometown?

Judy was born in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Tucson, Arizona when she was in grade school. Don was born in Tucson and lived there off and on through college. They met when they were sophomores at Tucson High School and married after Don graduated from the University of Arizona. Judy received her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy at the same time that Don received his MS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Arizona. Caltech was the next stop.

Do you support any sports teams?

Our favorite team will always be the 2014 Polytechnic High School Girls Tennis team; CIF Southern Section Champions, and CIF Southern Section Individual Singles and Doubles Champions.

What are your interests and hobbies?

We enjoy gardening, golf, reading, long walks, and hanging out with family and friends in Mammoth.

What is/was your line of work?

Judy is a retired clinical pharmacist having spent most of her career at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena specializing in pulmonology and oncology. Don spent his professional career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena focusing on fluid dynamics, biological oceanography and data management.

How did you get involved with the Caltech Y?

Judy met Athena through the Caltech Women’s Club. We both knew long-time Caltech Y Friends, Peter and Doreen Mason, through an early association with the Caltech Women’s Club baby-sitting pool during our time in graduate school and later at JPL, and through serving on the Athenaeum House Committee with Doreen. Our relationship with the Y was cemented at a Caltech Y Friends dinner in which John Dabiri was the speaker.

What’s your favorite Caltech Y program or event and why?

I believe that our favorite program must be the tutoring because of the continuing impact on the local community and the nation in general. This has been most effective in propagating the values of STEM and education in general. Our favorite events are the Friends Dinners because of the opportunity to interact with students and members of the Caltech community.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Don spent many early years traveling from place to place following his father’s Air Force career, but his formative years were spent on a farm in southern Arizona. He attended second and third grade in a one-room school near the Mexican border where he also taught the first grade. He spent the fourth grade in a two-room school in what is now a ghost town in rural southern Arizona with his mother as both his and his brother’s teacher. Judy grew up as a city girl.

If you could invite anyone (living of dead) to a Friends Dinner, who would it be?

Caltech Students


The Friends are the primary supporters of the Caltech Y. It is through generous contributions of our Friends that the Y is able to continue its long-standing mission of reaching out to the Caltech community with fresh ideas, student programming and active community service. To find out more please visit or contact us at

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