Althoff has enjoyed a long affiliation with both HCC and Mount Holyoke. Back in 1959, she left her studies at Ohio State University to start a family. In 1980, after moving to western Massachusetts, she enrolled in HCC's Women in Transition program. She graduated with a liberal arts degree in 1982 and transferred to Mount Holyoke as one of its first Frances Perkins Scholars, earning a degree in English in 1984. After graduating she worked for several years in MHC's development and admission offices; in 1988, she became director of the Frances Perkins Program. Bestowing the award, HCC noted that under Althoff's stewardship, Mount Holyoke received $780,000 from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to support programs, including HCC's Pathways, that help promising community college students from underrepresented backgrounds earn their undergraduate degrees.
In recognition of Althoff's commitment to furthering educational opportunity in the community, HCC presented her with a clock. "Even more gratifying than the clock," Althoff said, "is having two of HCC's top graduates coming to Mount Holyoke as FPs in the fall."