There are "women of Mercy" from coast-to-coast and in many foreign countries contributing in big and small ways to our society every day. Mercy alumna volunteer at their children's schools and work at the local bank or hospital; Mercy alumna also minister to orphans in Africa and work for peace in Baghdad. Every alumnae in the Circle of Mercy helps fulfill the school's missions! Mercy is a major contributor of highly qualified and principles alumnae to the Cincinnati and world community.
Do you have a suggestion for an alumna who could be "in the spotlight?" Contact the Alumnae Office by email at email@example.com
or call Lisa Mahon Fluegeman '78, Alumnae Coordinator at 513-61-2740 ext. 304 with details.
Past Alumnae Spotlights
These Mercy women have been featured in past issues of BLUEprint.
This past spring, Mercy was pleased to announce that Sr. Greta Schmidlin RSM ‘59
had been selected as the 2012 Circle of Mercy Award Recipient. Sr. Greta has been a Sister of Mercy for 53 years. She has also been the school secretary/administrative assistant at Our Lady of Lourdes School since 1987.
The Circle of Mercy Award is presented annually to a Mother of Mercy alumna who best reflects the Mercy values of Faith, Compassion, Service, Leadership and Excellence. Nominated by her colleagues at Our Lady of Lourdes, Sr. Greta was acknowledged for her service in the field of education, which spans decades. Her commitment to excellence is evident in the everyday tasks she performs at Lourdes, all with a smile on her face and ever so patient, despite juggling multiple visitors, phone calls and requests.
One of Sr. Greta’s most notable characteristics is her compassion and unlimited kindness for others. It is her compassion, along with her strong faith, that makes Sr. Greta “the glue that holds our school together,” wrote Wanda Grawe Schoenfeld ‘73, Our Lady of Lourdes faculty member. “Her faith and relationship with Jesus is witnessed in the many prayers that are answered and in all her interactions with God. Sr. Greta is a strong, visible sign of What Would Jesus Do.”
Those who nominated Sr. Greta noted how she lives simply and humbly. “To see her is to be reminded of Mother Teresa’s statement, ‘We cannot do all great things, but we can do small things with great love’.”
Sr. Greta was honored at Mercy’s Commencement Ceremony where she briefly addressed the Class of 2012 and all in
Seven Mother of Mercy graduates graduated from the University of Cinicnnati’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy with their Doctor of Pharmacy Degrees this past June. We proudly congratulate Sara Sagers ‘02, Jessica Gottman ‘04, Sarah Schaefer ‘06, Jackie Helmes ‘06, Emma Chermely ‘06, Annie Alexander ‘06 and Mindy Stanton ‘06
You might recall a similar photo in a 2008 issue of Memos & Memories which showed the girls gathered together after their white coat ceremony. “These women loved science,” recalled Science teacher Mrs. Carolyn Rost, “in fact the joy they brought to our classroom was precious. I ran into Jessica on UC’s campus a few years ago and the two of us were immediately transported to that more youthful space and shared stories of continuing our quest to know the unknowable. What an incredible gift these scientists are to our community!”
Several of the graduates will embark on one year residencies in hospitals while others will serve in community pharmacies.
Mercy caught Colleen Herman ‘03
on a break from a staging rehearsal at the Moscow Kremlin, where she is part of the magic of Cirque Du Soleil's international tour Zarkana through Easter of this year. Just a few weeks ago, the show (and Colleen!) packed up and flew from Madrid, Spain, where it had been from late October through New Year’s Eve. After a stay in Moscow, Cirque heads back to Radio City Music Hall in NYC for the second consecutive summer. This is life in show business! Colleen is the Makeup and Hair Supervisor, maintaining all of the hairstyles, wigs, and the aesthetic integrity of the makeup on each of Zarkana’s 79 artists. Each performer does their own makeup each day, but Colleen teaches new artists their looks and follows up to make sure our other artists are keeping the designs intact.
Colleen relates “I've had an interesting journey with Cirque Du Soleil, with my first contract working on Zaia in Macau, China in 2008-2009, and my current contract with Zarkana! Life is anything but boring as we move (countries) every few months, work with some of the best athletes in their craft, and call whichever hotel room we are staying in at the time "home". It still baffles my mind -- and I am grateful for -- how unconventional this job is, sometimes.
Through it all, though, I think of the Mercy family often. As I work with people from every background imaginable, I am thankful for my solid foundation of community, faith, and being connected to my spirit. I recognize how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to be surrounded by light and support in some of the most formative and influential years. And even after traversing the continents, my best friends from Mercy remain. That is an incredible gift I am not soon to forget. I will cherish my memories there always (and I'm always daydreaming about coming back to GIVE BACK in person. Hope to come and see everyone soon!"
Julie Kroner Sullivan ‘71
is also a world traveler, having visited Ghana, Panama, Kenya, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Egypt, Morocco, Haiti and Ethiopia with Operation Smile International, a medical volunteer organization that provides surgery for children with facial deformities. The most common of these surgeries are cleft lips and palates. From her first mission to Ghana, Julie found Operation Smile to be a life changing experience. “The mission experience is exciting, challenging, overwhelming, moving and rewarding.”
Julie, who began her nursing career in 1973 as an LPN at Children’s Hospital, followed her passion of working with children. She obtained her RN and became assistant manager of the OR and Recovery Room within plastic surgery service. At press time, Julie has just returned from her 24th Operation Smile mission, this time to Nicaragua. Julie says “I have learned so much about and from people of other cultures and realize that we share many common values. This commonality is the basis of world peace.”
“The challenges of these missions are enormous. We are going into some rural areas where resources are scarce. There is little in these hospitals in comparison to what we have here. At times it is like going backwards in a time machine. I have seen equipment that is from a bygone era. The excitement of coming together with a new group of people and rising to the challenge of providing safe, quality surgery that will change a child's life is beyond words. Some of these children would be abandoned, hidden away, shunned. We can give these children a chance to be loved, accepted and as one teenager said, to be kissed.”
“We are able to provide approximately 130 surgeries with a full team over five days. I give my time and talent to this organization because I am supported by family and friends. What I give is little compared to what I have gotten back. Volunteering is a way to meet people of like mind while doing good work. My life took on a new direction when I took this path. I never, in my wildest imagination, thought I would have travelled the world and had the adventures I have had through my involvement with Operation Smile. My passion for children and nursing have served me well.”
Maureen Boeing ‘85
, an insurance professional, was recently elected chair of ASCnet – the Applied Systems Client Network, an international insurance industry association. Maureen is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR). Maureen was elected to serve as Vice Chair of ASCnet in 2011, and Chair in 2012. In assuming her new role, Maureen reflected, “I’ve always believed in servant leadership. As I have grown in leadership responsibilities throughout my career – both professionally and in a volunteer capacity – I realized how my desire to lead is based on serving. Serving my employees as Vice President of Landmark Insurance Agency, I realized that leading by example, by showing them, by living it, I also realize my authentic self as well.”
Maureen adds, “Looking forward to 2012 and serving ASCnet as Chair, I know I will continue to grow and develop as a leader (even as I am doing the leading). All of this brings me back to my years at Mother of Mercy and even earlier school years at St. Martin of Tours. The focus on serving others has been a part of my schooling as well as a focus from my mother and other family members. It’s a heritage worthy of bragging about because serving others is an amazing way to live your life.”
Joyce Kasee ‘03
has been promoted recently to the position of US Institute for Peace Representative in Iraq, responsible for the programs and operations management of USIP's mission in Iraq. With this promotion, Joyce will spend another year in Iraq implementing programs aimed at promoting reconciliation and moderation, strengthening governance and civil society, and giving the next generation of youth a stake in peace and stability. “With the withdrawal of US troops at the end of December, Iraq is at a crucial point in its post-conflict transition - and I am excited to be just a small part of it. The Circle of Mercy extends all the way to Iraq as well- my church family here keeps my spirits up and my faith strong during the toughest times.”
Debbie Leesman Koenke ‘78
has been a registered nurse for almost 30 years and has seen technology change rapidly in the medical field. Debbie earned her BSN from the University of Cincinnati and has pursued her specialized career in ICU/CCU hospital nursing. For many years, she satisfied her love of travel and her love of medicine as a traveling nurse, with job assignments from Anchorage, Alaska to an Indian reservation in Arizona, Cleveland to Los Angeles. Debbie and husband Robert eventually moved back to Cincinnati and Debbie began working for The Christ Hospital in the ICU/CCU unit. Since 2009, Debbie has been part of the e-ICU, the first of its kind in Greater Cincinnati. The eICU Program, combines early warning software and remote monitoring to connect off-site critical care physicians and nurses to ICU patients around the clock, supplementing existing ICU bedside care. Debbie is part of a team of experienced critical care nurses and health care assistants, who continuously monitor ICU patients, using the latest technology to monitor vital signs, medications, X-rays, and other information from bedside monitors. To make her life even busier, Debbie is currently pursuing her master’s degree, her goal being a nursing practitioner in critical care.
Allegra Tenkman ‘00
is a brand-new family practice physician, joining Mercy Medical Associates-Dent Crossing Family Medicine in August 2011. Allegra received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 2008 and completed her residency in family medicine at Good Samaritan Hospital. She says that she “has a passion for family medicine” since it allows her to treat the whole person. The long-ago family doctor’s ‘little black bag’ has definitely been replaced by a computer and Allegra can appreciate easy access to patient records and test results, allowing her to coordinate care efficiently. Utilizing the latest technology, Dr. Tenkman can provide the personal care that is the hallmark of family medicine.
Rachel Niederhausen '08
and Katie Burger '08
returned to their Mercy roots and accompanied the ARISE mission trip to South Texas this summer. During the trip Rachel and Katie, along with Mercy students, served the communities of South Tower and Muniz, Texas, visiting shelters and working with the local youth at a day camp for 250 children. Rachel said, “Going on ARISE for the third time (previously after my sophomore and junior years) as an alum was an amazing experience. It was the same service and cultural experience that I had cherished and remembered so well.”
The difference, of course, was in being the adults on the trip, rather than the students. The friendships and bonding that occurs for the Mercy girls on these trips is an important part of the experience for the students. On this trip, Rachel, for one, “was more aware of why I was in Texas this time around, and it allowed me to make deeper connections with the children and women of the ARISE community.”
Pat Schell Furlong ‘64
graced the halls of Mercy when she served as commencement speaker for the Class of 2011 graduation. She was invited to address the students after being selected as the 2011 Circle of Mercy Award recipient. The award is presented to a Mercy alumna who best reflects the Mercy values of excellence, compassion, faith, leadership and service. Pat is the Founder and CEO of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy which is the largest non-profit organization in the US solely focused on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
“I can think of no other alumna who has been more dedicated and achieved more success advocating for an international cause,” wrote Catherine Collins Johnson ‘64
, who nominated Pat for the award. Pat’s crusade began when her own two sons died from Duchenne during their teenage years. “For over 25 years she has fought relentlessly in her sons’ honor and for all families affected by Duchenne.”
In 1995, Pat set up the first Research Center for Duchenne at the University of Pittsburgh. By 1999, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital became the leading clinical treatment center for Duchenne. In 2001 she helped lobby Congress to pass legislation that has allocated more than $400 million dollars for research into muscular dystrophy and, in December 2010, she was the cover story of The New Yorker Magazine. Pat also travels around the world regularly to help set up Parent Project Affiliates in numerous different countries.
While speaking to the graduates, Pat shared memories of her own Mercy days and her fight against Duchenne. She reminded the seniors that their opportunities are limitless and what they “do now and everyday after will serve as blunt objects in a world that is malleable” - a world they can change anyway they want and make a difference.