A love of Mercy High School’s mission and a dedication to giving others an opportunity for that education are the inspiration behind Nicole Hahn Jesse ’80 and John Jesse’s long-term commitment to the school. The couple has lent their considerable talents to Mercy as leadership volunteers, Donors of Distinction, parents, and business advisors. In honor of their dedication, Mercy High School will recognize the couple at its 2019 FIESTA on February 16, 2019 with its highest award: the Cor Misericordiae Award. The award reflects the Heart of Mercy: the core values of faith, knowledge, and service that shape each Mercy student.
Their Mercy story began with Nicole who attended Mercy and was active in Student Council, theatre, music, speech, and debate. In fact, she credits Mercy with helping to define who she is.
“When I entered Mercy, I was not very confident. The school helped me find myself. I truly believe students become confident women there. My husband and I are committed to making sure other young girls have the opportunity for a Mercy education,” said Nicole.
Powerful women were an integral part of Nicole’s formative years both at school and in her personal life. Her family founded La Casa Pizzaria, where she now serves as General Manager and Co-Owner. Her mother and aunt operated the business for many years until they retired. Nicole has worked at the business all her life and met her husband, John, there when she was a junior and he was a sophomore at Creighton Prep. They dated throughout college, wed in 1986, and both earned MBAs at the University of Nebraska Omaha. They have three children.
Nicole was asked to serve on the Mercy's Alumnae Council shortly after she graduated from college. She also sent her daughters, Madeleine ’12 and Genevieve ’14, to Mercy. The couple were active parents while their daughters were in school, running FIESTA’s live auction for four years, chairing the 2010 fundraising campaign, and endowing two student scholarships. Those scholarships honor two former teachers: Sr. Rosemary Floersch RSM, SM ’52 and Sr. Catherine Marie Franey RSM, Mount St. Mary '29.
John, who is the Associate Vice President for Finance at Creighton University, has also served as an Endowment Trustee at Mercy for the past ten years. Nicole joined the Board of Trustees in 2015 and currently serves as its Chair.
“My wife and daughters, as graduates, are examples of what Mercy brings to the table: an excellent, faith-based education that gives students the opportunity to reach their full potential and make a difference in the world,” said John.
“The Jesses are a remarkable example of members of the Mercy family who give of themselves. They truly deserve this award,” said Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM, President, Mercy High School.
Mercy High School has named Carrie Potter ’95, alumna and president of The Carrie Potter Group, LLC, Houston, Texas, the Master of Ceremonies for its largest, annual fundraiser, FIESTA (Friends In Earnest Supporting Tuition Assistance). The event, February 16, 2019 at the Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District, features a dinner, silent and live auction and other activities to benefit the school’s Negotiated Tuition Program. Potter is an award-winning executive who provides business consulting and financial planning services to professional athletes and small businesses. Previously she was Vice President at PMG Sports in Washington, D.C. She also serves as an Adjunct Lecturer with the Rice University Department of Sport Management.
No stranger to the limelight, Potter serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Houston Area Women’s Center Board of Directors and has served on the Board for ten years; President of Women in Sports & Events (WISE) Houston; and President-Elect of Texas Executive Women. She earned two degrees in business, B.B.A.’ 99 and M.B.A.’01, from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and serves on the Executive Committee of the School of Business Board of Advisors, chairing the Student Experience Committee. Carrie is a Senior Fellow from Class XXXIV of the American Leadership Forum and after participating in Class 34 of the Center for Houston’s Future, co-chaired its 2018 Leadership Campaign. She was named a 2016 Women on the Move by Texas Executive Women, a part of the Houston Business Journal’s 2017 40 Under 40 class and honored as a STEAM Role Model by the Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce in 2018.
Carrie was also valedictorian of her class at Mercy, the first female president at The George Washington University and a writing assistant for The Babe Book: Baseball’s Greatest Legend Remembered. Her three sisters, Katie Potter Peterson’99, Julie Potter Richt ’01 and Mary Jo Potter ’04, also attended the school.
“This year’s FIESTA theme is Destined to Shine and Carrie is a shining example of an accomplished alumna with amazing talents and skills. Her understanding of Mercy’s mission and how the teachings of Catherine McAuley have affected her approach to business, are very inspirational,” said Sr. Delores Hannon, RSM, President, Mercy High School.
Registration for FIESTA will be open soon on Mercy’s website, www.mercyhigh.org/fiesta/.
To learn more about Carrie’s inspirational story click on https://www.mercyhigh.org/alumnae/acting-with-courage/.
Mercy High School honored donors and dedicated two renovated science laboratories on October 23. More than 150 supporters generously donated over $800,000 to this project. Lead donors included the Mammel Family Foundation, Dr. C. C. and Mabel Criss Memorial Foundation, and The Lozier Foundation. In addition, Mercy received a $40,000 federal grant to purchase science equipment.
The renovated labs are designed to facilitate interactive experimentation and collaboration and are packed with technology to best complement the transfer of information.
Specific enhancements include updated workspace islands, integrated projection systems for sharing of knowledge, upgraded gas, water and electrical infrastructure, digital analysis enhancements and improved lighting and ventilation.
These labs are critical to the delivery of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum. As part of its Strategic Plan, Mercy continues to embrace and enhance its STEAM programming that integrates these areas of study, leverages the school’s educational expertise, instills critical thinking through the practical applications of knowledge and raises awareness of career choices in these fields.
Mercy offers a variety of science, chemistry and physics courses including Biology, Honors and AP Biology, Chemistry, Honors and AP Chemistry, Human Anatomy and Physiology and Physics as well as Foundations of STEAM in the renovated spaces.
Mercy has embraced the commitment to STEAM and its principles, reinforcing to its students the job opportunities that are available to women in these fast-growing fields. Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U. S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEAM-related jobs.
“These donors understand how their generous investments in these laboratories will help our students reach their full potential, helping us build leaders to make a difference in our community,” said Delores Hannon, RSM, President, Mercy High School.
Malinda Frevert ’07, currently works in our nation’s capital and witnesses first-hand the importance of women in leadership roles. Attending Mercy gave her the perspective that women can and should lead and work together to make things happen.
As Deputy Digital Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, she oversees the email program, the organization’s social media strategy, and other digital efforts.
D.C. might be a long way from Omaha but her love for politics and our nation’s capital, actually began during her years at Mercy.
“I remember in U. S. History, we watched episodes of The West Wing, where I saw Allison Janney playing Press Secretary CJ Cregg. She was smart, unafraid to speak her mind, and had a major impact on her coworkers but also the country. I wanted to be her,“ she said.
Malinda decided to go to Mercy because she wanted to be academically challenged and her parents wanted her to attend a Catholic School.
“When I shadowed I recall how everyone was welcoming and friendly. I also talked with Ms. Jaworski, and she said although the classwork wouldn’t be easy, it would also be at a place where the teachers and my classmates would help me grow, “she added.
While at Mercy she was involved in theatre, served as president of the International Thespian Society her senior year, participated in speech and even received a 6th place in Nebraska State Speech. She was also a member of National Honor Society and credits the school for teaching her how to write – whether it’s research papers for English class, fundraising emails, and tweets.
“I believe one of the most important skills Mercy taught me was to be a good writer. Initially, I wanted to be a press secretary, but throughout my career effectively telling stories has been one of my keys to success,” she said.
Malinda graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan in 2011 with a degree in Political Communication. Part of that course of study was an internship in D. C. with CNN. In 2013, she moved to the D.C. without a job. She eventually joined a women’s rights group called UltraViolet where she organized to raise awareness and hold universities accountable for sexual assaults on campus. She also worked on a gubernatorial campaign in Ohio and served as email director focused on electing Democratic women to all levels of office.
“At Mercy I also gained my passion for activism and social justice,” she said.
She still regularly visits her family and friends in Nebraska and remains close with many of her classmates.
“I try to live up to Mother McAuley’s example. I am committed to empowering women to make a difference in the world, whether that’s casting their votes, marching in the streets, or putting their name on the ballot themselves. Women are powerful, we look out for each other, and we can change the world – Mercy taught me that,” she said.
Mercy High School has many traditions, from Mercy Day to May Crowning. One of its newest traditions is Day of Discovery, which began about 20 years ago. On October 15, the day designed by Student Council and made possible by faculty, features activities and trips that leverage opportunities for students to learn outside the traditional classroom setting.
The list of activities ranges from and includes experiences such as exploring the culinary treasures of the Old Market, traveling to Oklahoma City to experience the memorial dedicated to the lives lost in the domestic terrorist bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, visiting local farming and cheese operations, discovering Fontanelle Forest, and meeting with artists and theatre professionals.
Day of Discovery is not merely recreational; all trips have a clear learning objective. That being said, all offered experiences are fun, too!