Our alumnae are making significant impact on the world today. From lawyers, to savvy business women, to scientists and techies, to civic minded community members and more, Women of Mercy are prepared to face the challenges of today.
To highlight their stories, we will be developing features on some of our interesting alumna. Their stories will be told on these pages.
A Desire to Help People
Her nonprofit may have been created by accident, but after six years that organization, Restoring Dignity, was recently given 501(c)3 status. Hannah Wyble ’05 is the company’s only full-time employee but there are thousands of volunteers who support its mission to provide support to refugees.
The Plan All Along
Working for social justice was always part of the plan according to Emily Staley ’14, who is a part of Mercy Volunteer Corps in Philadelphia.
Service Guides Her Life
Catherine McAuley once said, "We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us." When Kimberly Bujarski Prenzlow ’98 was at Mercy she took those words to heart.
Changing Chicago Communities
One voice, or person taking action can make a difference. Just spend a few minutes talking to Caitlin Botsios ’08 and her energy and commitment to that premise comes through loud and clear.
Best Years of My Life
“The first five words that come from my mouth when I talk about Mercy are ‘the best years of my life,’” said Megan O’Hara Hayes ’09. The Digital and National Sales Assistant in the Advertising and Sales Department at WOWT is grateful to Mercy for helping her find the best version of herself.
Wieberg Named Mercy Alumna Award Recipient
A famous author once said, “The family is God’s greatest masterpiece.” Ann Bendon Wieberg ’57 has been working on that masterpiece all her life. Motivated by faith and devoting her time and energy to family, she has led a life as a Woman of Mercy. For Ann, that family has not only included her immediate family, but her Mercy family and her community. She has been named the 2019 Distinguished Woman of Mercy Alumna, an award given by the Mercy High School Alumnae Association.
Teachers Helped Her to Succeed
Work brought Sarita Schroeder Hollander ’97 Visual Media Manager, HDR, back to Mercy High School in February. She coordinated photography for the firm, showcasing the recent renovations that have been made in the school’s science laboratories.
Mercy Saved Her
Dara Green ’94 described herself as a scared and fragile teen when she came to Mercy, who felt misunderstood, threatened, and often challenged authority. She left knowing who she was, confident, and ready for the journey ahead of her.
Foster Care Aligns with Mercy Values
Helping to bring together families in crisis is a shared mission for Amanda Fulton ‘98 and Paul Tschudin, Technology Director. Foster care helps to provide a safe and stable environment for a child who cannot be with his or her parents for some reason. The need for foster care has reached epidemic proportions as almost a million children are currently in foster care but the number is growing.
Mercy Education Shaped Engineer
“Our education lies at the heart of how we approach the world. Mercy played a large part in shaping me into the person I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Angela Jacobson Weiss ’99. Angela, a Senior Project Engineer, has been at Thermal Energy System Specialists (TESS) for eight years.
Alumna Studying STEM
Sarah Austin ’18 is putting her Mercy education to good use. The first-year Biological Systems Engineering student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln built a night train bobsled for a class project and the efforts were captured on Facebook.
3 Women of Mercy Work on Play
As three Women of Mercy, they learned empowerment, the importance of team work, and the value of collaboration. At the same time, they discovered that if you have a great idea, you can make it happen. Shayne Kennedy, playwright, Amy Harmon Lane ’86, Creighton Coordinator of Theatre & Dance and Viv Parr ’16, Creighton drama student, saw the fruits of their efforts appear on stage during the play, “Handled,” from October 31 - November 4 at Creighton University’s Lied Education Center for the Arts.
Moving Forward Despite Challenges
Perseverance and a thirst for knowledge are two traits that have been a consistent part of Sarah Ruff’s ‘15 young life. Despite severe epilepsy that started in the 8th grade, she graduated from Mercy and is finishing her degree in Journalism/Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
From Omaha to the World
As a Public Diplomacy Foreign Service Officer, she works with embassies in the Middle East and North Africa to ensure that U. S. policy, programs, and values are shared with people in those countries. Mary Lou Johnson-Pizarro ’74 has traveled extensively throughout her career and feels Mercy was very influential in shaping who she is and the career path she chose.
Nursing Character in Action
There is a famous quote about nurses that describes alumna Ann M. Franco Laughlin ’ 72: "The character of the nurse is as important as the knowledge she possesses." —Carolyn Jarvis.
Ann, a Professor at Creighton University’s School of Nursing, learned the value of using her skills for the good of others while attending Mercy.
Discovering Who I Am at Mercy
“Just having the sense that you were welcome to try and be part of anything at Mercy, I began to discover my gifts and develop more deeply my values and who I wanted to be,” said Jeni Jaworski Martinez ’88.
Alumna Message: Give Back
“With my knowledge of fundraising, I know the importance of giving back,” said Alyssa Danze Norman ’02 whose currently serves as a Prospect Research Manager at Creighton University. As the Secretary of Mercy’s Alumnae Council, she also encourages her fellow alumnae to help support current Mercy Girls.
Service Abroad Calling Her
She feels her true calling is rooted in the Mercy value of service. That is why, Meghan Petersen ’14 will be serving with the Mercy Volunteer Corps in Georgetown, Guyana, South America.
Mercy Fueled a Passion for Justice
Claudia Brock ’12 talks about how Mercy nurtured her leadership potential, fostered her personal spirituality and interest in social justice.
Passion for Education Leads to Authorship
As sisters, they share many bonds-- family, faith, and fondness for Mercy, and a thirst for education that led each of them to write and have books published. In fact, according to Omahan Carol Smola Dargy ’56 and Mary Pat Smola McCormick ’58 of Denver and Carmel, California, education is the thread that is interwoven in both of their lives resulting in passions for lifelong learning, reading and writing.
Thriving Despite Stereotypes
Empowering young women of Mercy High School is our school’s mission. Alumna Anna Berg ’09 knows firsthand the importance of that confidence as the Information Technology (IT) Helpdesk Manager at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
Mercy Spirit Present Every Day
Faith is a cornerstone of the Mercy High School community. One way it manifests itself is through the students’ passion, drive, and for- others centered character. Alumna Ashley Shrader Miller ’04 continues to make faith her cornerstone and allows the spirituality of the Sisters of Mercy to motivate her each day as she works as the school’s Campus Minister of Mercy.
Sauerman Receives Alumna Award
Pat O’Neill Sauerman of Scottsdale, AZ has been named the Distinguished Woman of Mercy Alumna, an award given by the Mercy High School Alumnae Association. Sauerman, a 1965 graduate, has spent her adult life dedicated to Catholic endeavors including parish work and a long-term commitment to the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS). CGS is a Montessori-based approach to children’s formation and the adults who work with them.
Not 4 Years, For Life
Mercy High School has a long-lasting impact on each girl that sets foot through the door their freshman year. That influence does not end after four years; Mercy makes an impression over the span of a lifetime. One alumna, Maureen Becka Falcon ’85, is living proof of that impact as her entire life keeps pointing back to Mercy.
Showing Love Through Coaching
Coaching is a profession of love. You can’t coach people unless you love them.” Eddy Robinson. Those words summarize why seven Mercy alumnae are using their skills to help coach sports teams at the school.
Finding & Sharing Her Passion
She may have been the only girl cut from the freshmen basketball team; but it’s okay because she found her passion in journalism, which lead to her career as a judge. Now Francie Riedmann Weis ‘81 is also sharing her talents with other Mercy girls by being one of the coaches of Mercy’s Mock Trial Team.
Mercy Gave Her Sisters
Mercy gave her the sisters she never had and also an extended family. Although Siryeya’ Belton ‘ 09 is not Catholic she attended Holy Name. She wanted to go to an all-girls school but her mom was worried about the expense. The family learned about Mercy’s tuition assistance and after Siryeya went on a shadow visit she realized Mercy was where she belonged.
The Trip was Worth It
She took two city buses to get Mercy but she found the trip worth the effort. In looking back Chris Zenk Rix '73 felt that speech and debate at Mercy was the strongest influence in her career success. She had a career in the financial services industry for 26 years.
Igniting the Passion for Newspaper Reporting
“Mercy ignited the spark that got me into newspapers,” said Mary Jo Pitzl ’75, current senior reporter at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona.
Helping the Vulnerable in the Spirit of Catherine
Molly Elston ‘07 lives across the world in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and is using her talents to support Catholic Relief Services.
Making her Mark
Roz Parr ’09 graduated with a strong sense of self and the confidence to go out into the world and make her mark, thanks to Mercy teachers who were positive, supportive influences.
Relationships Built at Mercy
Not only is she a Mercy grad, she is a former parent who values the relationships she built and the worthwhile activities she was involved in to support the school. Read about Mary Lou Nemec Gunia ’67 who recently celebrated her 50th graduation anniversary.
Poetry Helps Her Practice Mercy
She is the first women, the first person of color, and the youngest individual to be named Associate Poet Laureate in Winona County, Minn. Her name is Nicholle Ramsey ’13 and she is a 2013 Mercy graduate.
Mercy Grad Wins Taiwan Scholarship
Amber Loon Johnson '14 has only gone to 12 countries since she has graduated from Mercy in 2014, and now has her eyes set in Taiwan with the Ambassador Scholarship.
Engineer, Coach and Mercy Grad
An environmental engineer, a basketball coach and a Mercy graduate—are all elements of the interesting and unique resume of Nicole Lenczowski’06.
Sharing Her Mercy Gifts
During her years at Mercy, performing arts and social justice took a strong hold and led to her current career. Margie Walsh Haik ’88 is the Director of Communications for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province. She is also the music director for Theatre at Vis, a ministry of Visitation Catholic Church in Kansas City, Missouri.
Mercy Alumna Shares Performance Passion
Kathy Mulcahy Mittan ’83 and her husband are award winning, short film movie producers who used Mercy High School’s chapel recently for a new movie project. Students were invited to attend, watch the action, and work behind the scenes in the making of the film. Performance, especially on the stage, has always been Kathy’s passion and it was nurtured during her years at Mercy.
Her Mercy Grounding Has Helped Her Soar
She has been all over the world thanks in part to the “grounding” she received from Mercy High School. Leanne Prewitt ’97 is now a Creative Director at Ervin & Smith and has been using her Mercy experiences to help her along the way.
Pride and Drive
Tondeleya Newson ’03 wants donors to know that the opportunity she had to go to Mercy s has truly been life altering. She is confident the same will be true for her 15-year-old daughter, Ta’Vaisya, who is a freshman this year.
Six Sisters Succeeding on Their Own Journeys
The six Dunn sisters are all Women of Mercy. Their journeys span decades. They are as different as night and day, but all have at least one thing in common---their love of Mercy High School and the impact the institution has had on their lives.
Molded by Mercy
Teacher, health care advocate, clinician, cancer specialist, and active alumna--- all these words and phrases describe Kelly K. Nystrom ’86. Kelly is an Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Creighton University
During Hard Times She Comes Back to Mercy
Mckayla Roberts ‘15 is studying Medical Molecular Biology with a double minor in Psychology and Biochemistry at Oral Roberts, while running track and field.
Mercy Opened Her Mind to the World
She lives on the other side of the world, teaching at a middle school and university in South Korea. And she feels such an adventure would not of have been possible without her years at Mercy. Elizabeth Ferrante ‘08 participated in an exchange program with a sister school in Argentina during her time at Mercy and it changed her life.
Additional stories are available in our story index.