Finding Home: Amy Keller
In the midst of the pandemic, Amy Keller ’07 found herself considering the importance of her home. As we all were confined to our houses during quarantine, she began wondering “What is home and how do we get there?” This simple question led her to research the refugee experience.
Years before anyone had even heard of COVID-19, Amy was a model Mercy Monarch. She got involved in an array of activities from theater to pep club. “You try new things, and you can do that in an environment where you’re allowed to fail,” Amy said of her time at Mercy.
Amy also developed a passion for social justice thanks to the influence of Sr. Jeanne O’Rourke. “My locker was right by her office,” Amy said, “and our friendship just grew from there.” Between Sr. Jeanne and Mercy’s Theology classes, Amy began learning all about the ways we can make the world a better, more just place for all. She carried this focus on justice with her through college.
“Because of my Mercy education, I was always thinking about Mercy,” Amy remembered. “I kept thinking, ‘How can I use that information I gathered for another year?’” In an effort to stay connected to the Mercy community after she graduated, Amy signed up for every Mercy-related email list she could think of. She joined Mercy Volunteer Corps in 2011, and by 2013 joined Mercy Association.
In January of 2019, Amy saw an email in her inbox from Mercy International Association, an organization inspired by the Sisters of Mercy to foster the mission of Catherine McAuley in the modern day. The email mentioned that the Association was forming the Mercy Global Action Emerging Leaders Fellowship (MELF) to create a space for women who were interested in addressing social concerns on a global scale. Amy was intrigued by the opportunity and applied. After rounds of interviews, she was selected as part of the first cohort.
Amy found herself grouped with women from around the globe including Papua New Guinea, Australia, Ireland, and Peru. The group communicated every month about different topics related to social justice and the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns. Additionally, she was assigned a Mercy mentor, Sr. Marie Micheletto ’57, who Amy describes as “a dear, close friend.” Throughout these conversations, Amy found herself becoming more concerned with the situation of refugees in the United States.
In an effort to learn more about refugees living in Omaha, Amy began volunteering with Restoring Dignity. This nonprofit was founded by another Mercy alumna, Hannah Wyble ’05, with the goal of advocating for the refugee population.
In August of 2019, Amy and the rest of her volunteer cohort went to Cambodia to meet as a group and continue discussing the ways that the lay community could further the social justice causes of the Sisters of Mercy. In March of 2020, they were set to meet again in New York City to attend the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. As the pandemic became increasingly prevalent, this trip was shortened to allow for everyone’s safety.
Stuck at home, Amy began musing on the idea of “home” and how it relates to the refugee experience. This became the basis of her Fellowship research project. Amy began by asking her friends and the refugees she met to complete the sentence “Home is…” Based on their responses, she noticed that the answers fell within Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Amy began researching how to address those lower-level needs. She put together a set of resources that include opportunities for employment and local organizations that will provide refugees with the assistance they need to begin to establish their own homes in the United States.
In February of 2021, Amy presented her final research project, “What Is Home and How Do We Get There?” to members of the Mercy community throughout the world. As a ‘graduate’ of the first cohort of the Mercy Emerging Leaders Fellowship, Amy is now working with the 9 other graduates to determine next steps. “We want to keep that spirit alive,” Amy said.
To learn more about Restoring Dignity’s Mission and to volunteer with our newest neighbors, please check them out at https://rdomaha.org/
To see all the research collected by the fellows, including Amy’s work, click here.
Delaney Fisher ’15 has many passions. Since the age of four she played soccer and danced. She continued those activities at Mercy and also discovered another passion, photography, while taking a class there. That passion has turned into a thriving business.
Her decision to attend Mercy was a natural one. Her older sister, Natalie ’11, is an alumna. Delaney grew up hearing about all the school’s special moments and traditions.
“I could not wait to make my own memories at Mercy,” she said.
To say Delaney was active in sports during high school might be an understatement. Even before school started, her first activity at Mercy was summer conditioning. She kept in great shape and had an opportunity to meet her fellow students before school started. Because freshmen could not be on the dance team, she tried out for cheerleading and made the junior varsity squad.
“Cheer gave me a lot of confidence and a great work ethic. I had to be prepared not only for tryouts but for pep rallies and eventually while performing at games,” she said.
She also tried out for soccer her freshmen year. Delaney was a junior varsity soccer player from freshmen to junior year and then made the Varsity Soccer Team during her senior year.
“Soccer holds some of my favorite memories at Mercy. One of them was the Skutt Tournament my sophomore year on Junior Varsity. The game ended up in a shoot-out against Skutt. I remember our team holding hands on the sideline saying a prayer after each shot. Our amazing goalie, Nina Theiler ‘15, blocked every single one from Skutt. We stormed the field cheering, filled with pure joy that our hard work paid off with a win,” she said.
Her other favorite soccer memory was going to state in 2015.
“The love and support we received from our families, the school and the other athletes at Mercy was incredible. Our student section was always filled and cheering at the top of their lungs, even the teachers. To have that experience, win or lose, as a team but also as a school, was a perfect end to my senior year,” she said.
Delaney also pursued another passion during her sophomore year: dance.
“I decided to do dance instead of continuing with cheer, which was a difficult decision. Dance team definitely brought me out of my comfort zone even more. I got to try choreographing for the first time with my lifelong friend and teammate, Allie Barnhart ‘15. To be given that chance by our coach, Miss Howe (now Mrs. Burkey), reinforced my work ethic as an athlete and my ability as a leader. Those abilities stayed with me for years to come. I was also nominated for junior captain the next year and eventually became a captain my senior year,” she said.
She also took a photography class at Mercy and found the passion she is pursuing today, photography. Delaney joined the yearbook staff her senior year. She also began taking pictures of seniors, engagements, events and weddings. Delaney credits Mercy with giving her the confidence to take chances, to fail and get back up, to not take time for granted and to enjoy the little things.
After graduating from Mercy, she attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating in 2019 with a major in Graphic Design and a minor in Art History.
As she is building her photography business, she does free-lance design, bartends and nannies.
“Keeping busy with all these endeavors has kept me active and used to scheduling. It also has given me free time to pursue photography,” she said.
Mercy has benefitted from her photography skills at FIESTA for the last few years as she has attended the school’s major fundraiser with her family and taken pictures. She also has taken numerous senior portraits.
“What I would say to others to help motivate them to get involved with Mercy is to just give back. It sounds simple because it is simple. When you give, good things happen,” she said.
Photo by Delaney Fisher.