Mount Mary Magazine Spring 2024

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Celebrating creative community




FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2024



SHOWS: 1 P.M. | 5 P.M. | 7:30 P.M.


MAY 2024 |

CREO is Latin for “to make, create, produce.” CREO is an annual celebration of visual art & design at Mount Mary University. Events showcase the work of students who will be the next generation of leadership in creative professions representing studio art, interior architecture & design, graphic design, user experience design and fashion.

Also please join us for ART + DESIGN SENIOR EXHIBITIONS




STAY UP TO DATE WITH Mount Mary events Check these pages and stay informed of events, visit opportunities and webinars! EVENTS FOR ALUMNI: events UNIVERSITY EVENTS: AT YOUR FINGERTIPS To access this information on the web, simply activate your phone camera and hold it over one of the QR codes above. The link to the web page will appear. Click on the link and you will be taken directly to the web page! SPRING 2024 | 1 TABLE CONTENTS 4 STITCHING SCIENCE 6 SPOTLIGHT ON INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN 8 A FEAST FOR THE EYES 10 FASHION FORWARD 18 "WHY MMU" 22 DIVERSITY IN DESIGN 2 From the President 12 Living our Catholic Identity 14 Alumni Spotlight 16 Center for Women's Leadership 17 MMU Serves 20 Donor Spotlight 21 Advancement 23 Campus News 26 Achievements & Accolades 31 Class Notes 35 In Memoriam 36 Reflection © 2024 Mount Mary University Compiled by Mount Mary University Marketing and Communications, Jennifer Janviere, Editor Designed by Joan Hartin, Senior Graphic Designer Contributors: Ted Ishler, Allie W. Deloge, Advancement Office, Andrea Stapleton Mount Mary University is sponsored by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
commencement ceremony
Mount Mary students during winter


Isabelle Cherney, Ph.D., Mount Mary University

Dear Mount Mary Alumni and Friends,

Willkommen to the spring edition of Mount Mary Magazine!

Spring is a season of renewal and growth. These ideas are visible in the creative, innovative initiatives seen throughout our curriculum and across our campus. Reflecting on both the fall semester behind us and the remaining year ahead, I am struck by the abundance of compassion, time and service that our community continues to invest in our mission – and in each other. MMU is truly a place with a vibrant soul!

We are building a bright future together. In spring we saw strong enrollment, while our new strategic plan continues to unfold. Despite the challenges that we – and all institutions of higher education – continue to face in a rapidly changing educational landscape, we are hopeful that the recruitment season will continue to build momentum.

We continue to demonstrate the value of a university degree by offering exciting and future-focused programs that will attract new students to Mount Mary. We are poised to launch a new master’s in social work (MSW) program this fall, as well as working on new undergraduate degrees in Cyber Security, Business Analytics and new courses in Digital Marketing. We also will continue removing barriers to learning by adopting eCampus, an online bookstore which offers an in-tuition model, providing all students with their required course materials each semester.

Our students are involved in unique educational opportunities that also provide value to our community. From displaying their fashion designs at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (see story on page 4) to studying conflict resolution abroad (see story on page 12), students gain valuable professional experience well before graduation. This winter, the Dietetics graduate program invited the community to participate in a Winter Wellness Challenge and free nutritional consultations, and our Counseling and Wellness Center continues to provide free mental health services on campus. Mount Mary will once again offer free housing and reduced tuition to students enrolled in summer courses.

Commitment to Student Success

Current and first year students completed the HEDS (Higher Education Data Sharing) Student Satisfaction survey this past fall showing that they value Mount Mary’s educational opportunities. Ninety-five percent of our returning students are satisfied or very satisfied with their undergraduate education. Ninety-seven percent of the respondents said that they would choose to attend MMU if they had it to do it all over again. At the same time, the survey also showed us the challenges that many face: 38% of returning students and 37% of new students worry about having enough food each day and 29% of the returning students and 32% of new students worry about having a safe, secure place to sleep. These statistics are heartbreaking. We continue to address these needs

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I am struck by the abundance of compassion, time and service that our community continues to invest in our mission – and in each other.

through raising grants, donations, scholarships and emergency funds.

I am encouraged as our retention continues to grow, reaching 88% overall from last fall through this spring. In fall, we also witnessed an invigorated interest in events sponsored by Student Engagement. There was a sizable increase in the attendance of our December hooding, mass, light of learning and commencement ceremonies. It is such a blessing to feel this energy and see how these traditions continue to bring our community together.

Recently, MMU has attracted the attention of some national and global organizations that are working with our faculty and students to develop innovative projects. In January, MMU was awarded one of Amazon Web Services’ Health Equity Initiative funds. This award enables students and faculty to leverage the cloud as they work on research to help create better health outcomes. This year several departments are also working with Target Corporation on projects to promote multicultural perspectives and visibility.

A Vision for the Future

The new Institute for the Advancement of Women and Children and its four Centers of Excellence (Advancement of Women in Technology; Women’s Wellness and Health; Children’s Rights and Women’s Leadership) will be a catalyst for innovation (see story on page 17). The Institute will serve as a resource for MMU to innovate beyond the boundaries of the traditional campus and enhance our mission as we test ideas in a dynamic, creative environment. Through this educational think tank, we continue to connect with corporate, government, non-profit and community partners, nurture real-world mentoring and learning opportunities, seed interdisciplinary initiatives and support faculty in their teaching and research.

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to our new board members, Jeffrey Hembrock, Becky Pinter, Marjorie Rucker ’00 and S. Sharon Slear. I look forward to their shared insight as we continue to shape the direction of the university.

As we look ahead to the future, Mount Mary will continue to broaden our role as a catalyst for transformation. To achieve this vision, MMU is proactively creating space to foster innovative, entrepreneurial efforts among students and faculty, enhance research capacity and make MMU a destination for creative endeavors.

I am so very grateful for this community that is rooted in the School Sisters of Notre Dame mission and values, and remain deeply appreciative of everyone’s service to our students – and each other. n

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Mount Mary students continue to live our "4Cs" – competence, commitment, compassion and community.



In a recent art exhibit, Mount Mary Fashion students explored inspiration from an unlikely source

What is the connection between math, science, art and fashion? At f irst glance it may seem as though these disciplines don’t have much in common. But this winter, a group of Mount Mary Fashion students challenged that perception with a pop-up gallery show at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA).

This gallery show, Fashion Focus | Imaginary i, was part of the larger Imaginary i show at the museum, which featured pieces inspired by scientif ic concepts such as radial geometry, astronomy, sound waves and the Fibonacci sequence. The collaboration between Mount Mary and MMoCA was born from a conversation in 2022 between then museum director Christina Brungardt and Fashion department faculty. Brungardt was inspired by students’ designs that evoked concepts of home and belonging, inviting them to participate in a show at the museum with the same theme. After a successful initial experience, MMoCA staff once again contacted the university about taking part in a similar event. Fashion department chair Ashley Brooks shared her elation over the continued collaboration between the two institutions.

“When the museum approached us, we were very excited,” Brooks shared, admitting that the theme seemed both inspiring and daunting. “The more we started thinking


about it, the more we all began to realize that everything ties back to math,” she added. “Especially in fashion design, which involves fractions, grids, drafting and construction – math is such a big part of what we do.”

Mount Mary Fashion faculty met with the Mathematics department, exploring ways to make these concepts approachable and applicable to the participating classes. “Math is everywhere, and art is people’s way of creatively interpreting the world,” said assistant professor of Math Dr. Caitlyn Booms. “Numbers are everywhere in nature – I think they’re actually a more common source of inspiration than people realize,” she added, noting that patterns and symmetry underlie many design concepts.

Students from the Fashion Design I, Draping Fundamentals and Senior Capstone classes were all involved in the project, as well as several recent alumni. Although the students were initially hesitant about the theme, this uncertainty transformed into excitement as the classes explored different historical and contemporary creators embracing similar concepts in their own work. The possibilities quickly began to unfold.

Sophomore Aniana Robertson saw the prompt as a chance to connect back to nature, referencing the organic patterns found in plants.

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(1) Garment designs by Mount Mary Fashion Design students.


(2) MMoCA director of education Bob Sylvester leads tour with Mount Mary group.

(3) Alumna Patricia Golden '23 stands in front of her work, on display at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

(4) Students Jessica Rodriguez (left) and Mileisis Romero (right) view digital designs in the Fashion Focus | Imaginary i show.

(5) Ashley Brooks views work by Leann Wolf (left) and Ro Storrs (right).

(6) Students Aniana Robertson (left) and Samantha Schultz (right) view designs at the Fashion Focus | Imaginary i show.

(7) Mount Mary faculty and students at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

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Spotlight on Interior Architecture and Design

Building a Better World from the Ground Up

At f irst glance – and to those unfamiliar with the f ield –interior design is about surface level aesthetics. But in Mount Mary’s Interior Architecture and Design (IA&D) program, this discipline goes far beyond simply pairing paint colors and fabric swatches. Design can also serve as a catalyst for social change. This principle proves foundational to Mount Mary’s IA&D program.

“Design empowers people through space,” shares Genevieve (“Gigi”) Szeklinski, associate professor and program chair. “We’re not just making interiors pretty; we’re transforming lives. If a space can help someone learn, heal or create an overall positive outcome, it can make a real difference.”

“Students need to understand the users we’re creating for; that we’re creating a supportive environment for

the people we serve,” adds assistant professor Katherine Seno, echoing Szeklinski’s sentiments.

Creating Safe, Sustainable Living

To these faculty members, interior architecture and design is interconnected with everyday life in a way that is often invisible, yet deeply inf luential. Szeklinski points to the psychological impact that spaces exert on our ability to work, live and play, citing the effects of lighting, colors and textures on the wellbeing of their inhabitants. Smart use of materials and considerations for ergonomic design can also make life safer and more sustainable, ranging from spaces that promote community building to those helping residents age in place.

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Mount Mary student Katia Arce creating design for 2023 Voices of Leadership event.
We’re not just making interiors pretty; we’re transforming lives. If a space can help someone learn better, heal better – or create an overall positive outcome – it can make a real difference.

Mount Mary’s IA&D program connects psychology and science to every carefully considered detail, while also ensuring that students have a solid understanding of construction principles such as plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.

“There’s a rigor to this education that never existed years ago,” says Szeklinski. “Our f irst job is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

Szeklinski and Seno believe in the importance of educating both students and the public that the role of designers transcends simply decorating. This passion for the profession is also evident in the department’s advocacy for laws impacting their industry and elevating the profession. Szeklinski has been a tireless advocate for legislation to bring more credibility and autonomy to the profession. In 2022, Wisconsin became the second state in the nation to allow licensed designers to stamp and seal their own drawings for non-structural commercial projects, previously the realm of traditionally male dominated architectural f irms. This was thanks in part to Mount Mary professors, administrators and students, who met directly with state representatives to urge progressive policy changes. The result was a more self-reliant industry that uplifts design f irms, the majority of which are women-owned, according to Szeklinski. Other states have since used the framework of these efforts to enact similar legal changes.

Understanding All Aspects

In addition to focusing on social impact, IA&D students gain a robust understanding of all aspects of the building process. Clad in hard hats and safety gear, the classes visit active construction sites to observe work in progress and write case studies. They explore different areas of commercial design including food and beverage, retail, senior living and lodging. Students learn to solve

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Mount Mary student Anahi Lopez (middle) with Henry Schein employees Renee Susami and Laura Seefeldt. Senior capstone classes create sociallyfocused designs.

A FEAST FOR THE EYES S tudents explore the art of food styling

Food is more than just a source of nourishment: it can also be a form of expression and creativity. One class of student interns in the Mount Mary Dietetics program learned this f irsthand during a food styling and photography workshop that shared ways to make food look as good as it tastes.

Dietetics assistant professor Meagan Maritato led the fall 2023 class, which covered topics such as camera angles, lighting, use of props and ways to accentuate colors and textures. The students learned how to enhance the appearance of their subject matter, creating vibrant, magazine-worthy shots in the process. The class honed their skills through practice, styling and photographing a diverse array of food – from vegetable trays and charcuterie boards to heaping plates of pasta.

need to be attractive.” Maritato has built her extensive knowledge of food styling through online marketing of her catering business, featuring her mouth-watering and meticulously styled dishes on Instagram.

The art of food styling has become more in-demand than ever, as social media sharing creates a need for compelling, high quality visual content. Equipped with this skillset, students can explore career options with magazines and recipe sharing websites, or even launch their own online platforms to showcase their recipes.

“People eat with their eyes,” said Maritato. “Visual content has to be appealing – especially to encourage eating healthy foods. The presentation of colors, shapes and sizes all

Students Makayla Genck and Samantha Pearson ref lected on the positive experience that they showcase during the workshop. The two were invited to share their skills during an on-air broadcast by CBS 58 last fall, and both have been able to put their new skills into action through internships with Children’s Hospital. Genck works with children with diabetes, helping f ind meal plans to suit their dietary needs and preferences, while Pearson assists patients with feeding tubes to get necessary nutrients each day. The students describe how helpful this skillset has been, especially as they work to make food more approachable for children.

“If you make food look appetizing to kids –especially fruits and vegetables – it triggers something that makes them want to eat it,” said Genck.

“I feel like making food visually interesting and including kids in the process of plating food makes it more fun,” added Pearson. “By putting in a little extra work making food look pretty and colorful, the kids really get excited to eat healthy.” n

For more information about the dietetics program please visit

Students Samantha Pearson (left) and Makayla Genck (right) with their food styling presentation.



Dietetics students share their advice and expertise here:

Use natural light :

Natural light is the best source of lighting when photographing food, helping to accentuate the true colors and textures. Avoid using flash or artificial light if possible, as these can create harsh shadows and glare. When possible, try using indirect light from a nearby window.

I nclude props :

Food styling does not have to be expensive! You can use many things you already have at home, such as brightly colored plates, bowls, napkins and utensils, to showcase your food. Unique textures, such as wood grain or fabrics, can create a backdrop that makes the subject more appealing.

Look for vibrant , contrasting colors :

Bright foods are more eye-catching and appetizing than those with dull colors. Use fresh and colorful ingredients, such as fruits, vegetables and herbs to add visual appeal to your food photos. When selecting herbs as an accent, make sure to pick selections that highlight the dish you are preparing (such as cilantro on Latin-inspired cuisine).

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Fashion Forward

Leadership for Social Justice students help dress for success

What is the connection between sustainability, social equity and success? For one group of Mount Mary students, the answer arrived in an unexpected form: fashion.

It all began during the fall 2023 semester, when instructor Sharon Heilman’s Leadership for Social Justice class met to discuss ideas for a group project. As the students suggested ideas, a chance mention of the campus career closet sparked excitement and plans for developing a pop-up shop. Most students had never heard of the career closet, a resource that provides students with free professional attire. These donations assist students who may not otherwise have access to a professional wardrobe for job interviews. Yet, because of its lack of a permanent location on campus, many students are unaware that this resource exists.

“A lot of my students are interested in style, but don’t have access to business clothing – nor have they seen many examples of what to wear in a workplace setting,” said Heilman. A self-described “lifelong thrifter,” the instructor described a sense of excitement as she watched the class brainstorm ways to reinvigorate this resource.

Style Meets Sustainability

Students visited area secondhand retailers, including St. Mary’s in Elm Grove (located near the former School Sisters of Notre Dame Mother House) where they sourced items and networked with store managers. Students conducted data analysis on clothing, comparing what they paid for recycled f inds with that of similar items at full retail price. Heilman shares that the class acquired 117 pieces during the semester at an average price of $3.87 per item.

In many cases we were getting clothes that were almost brand new for less than the price of a cup of coffee.

“In many cases we were getting clothes that were almost brand new for less than the price of a cup of coffee,” she says.

Heilman describes the of series “A-ha” moments in which she saw students begin to make connections between fashion, the environment and social justice. The instructor encouraged students to examine their own buying habits and consider how those choices make an impact on the planet.

“Fast fashion is one of the largest polluters in the world,” she says, suggesting that many people never consider the true cost of seemingly inexpensive online purchases that contribute to landf ill waste and exploitative labor practices. “Many students were unaware that a lot of the fashion they’re ordering online isn’t sustainable for the future.”

Heilman’s own eye-opening moment happened when watching the group try on garments and model for each other. She realized that for many in her class, this was the f irst experience of its kind.

“A lot of young people are used to buying things online and putting them on for the f irst time while alone in their dorm room or at home,” she shares. Heilman describes watching

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the students transition from initial shyness to conf idence as peers provided words of encouragement, even cheering on their classmates at times.

Momentum continued to build as the semester progressed, and the sense of shared purpose also grew. The project culminated in a pop-up boutique at the end of the semester, held in the hallway outside of the Alumnae Dining Hall. The group’s creativity was on display along the carefully curated garments, as they incorporated recycled resources – such as salvaged hangers from the campus bookstore –to create an eye-catching display The Mount Mary community was invited to view and try on pieces, free to take what they liked. The results exceeded Heilman’s expectations.

Setting the Stage for Success


The Mount Mary Fashion archive is home to so many pieces – each with its own unique story. Curator Amanda Cacich shared the history of a few of these incredible pieces with us, which have been donated across several decades:

Pineapple Hat, Bes-Ben, l ate 1950s/ early 1960s

Donated in 2007, this hat was created by milliner Benjamin B. Green-Field for his hat label Bes-Ben. Known as the “Mad Hatter of Chicago,” Green-Field's hats were colorful, whimsical and full of humor. Designs like this are inspirational for students, showing them how far they can go in their designs by using imagination. The wearer of a hat like this would need a healthy dose of confidence to pull it off!

“The excitement was so apparent,” she says of the campus reception to the project. The Leadership for Social Justice group was on hand to make suggestions as fellow students walked up to leaf through the lovingly organized racks. Students disappeared to try on armfuls of clothes, reemerging to cheers and applause from the others in attendance. One student even brought her sewing kit, offering on-the spot alterations.

Protest Clothing, 1968

In the 1960s clothing was heavily used by young people, especially on college campuses, to express their political and social beliefs. This was especially true of the anti-Vietnam War movement. Rebelling against authority and societal norms, protesters took existing clothing and altered it with patches, tears, and dye. It was an expression of creativity as well as a rejection of what was viewed as an unjust society. The protest clothing represents a subculture that used clothing to convey a strong message. This piece was donated to the collection in 1993,

“Our class really came together as a community,” shared student Jennifer Marquez Lopez of the experience.

“There was such an amazing sense of empowerment,” adds Heilman. “The students gained so much conf idence throughout the entire process.”

To the Leadership for Social Justice students and those in attendance, the boutique was a reminder that making a difference for others can sometimes happen in small and unexpected ways.

As the future of the campus career closet unfolds, Heilman hopes that this sense of momentum will continue, and that others will be inspired to donate.

Blue Silk Taffeta Dress, 1870s

Many people think of the Victorian Era as a somber time for clothing, in large part because photography of the period was black and white. In truth, Victorian clothing was bursting with color! The reason for this was the discovery of synthetic dye in 1856, which allowed clothing to be colored in bright hues not achieved with natural dyes. The vivid blue of this Victorian dress is a testament to the scientific ingenuity of the Industrial Revolution – as well as a celebration of color. Donated to the collection in 1971.

See more pieces from the Mount Mary fashion archive at our online digital collection:

“I can’t wait to see the future of this resource,” she says. “This is just the beginning.” n

Students explore connections to home, histor y and culture in
Students learn so much through immersion in another culture that they would not learn by simply reading about it. — DR. LAUREL END

What is our relationship to the world, and how do the events of past and present relate within the context of our own lives?

These questions lay at the heart of a study abroad experience in Ireland and Northern Ireland this January, when two classes set out to explore the themes of conf lict resolution and human connection.

Faculty Joshua Anderson and Dr. Laurel End led the J-Term study abroad trip, an experience that participants described as profoundly inspiring. Anderson’s class, Time, Place and Memory, encouraged students to explore a personal connection to past and present events through art and literature, while End’s Psychology of Peace course examined the impact of bias, stereotypes, dehumanization and generational trauma on culture.

The group traveled together across the two countries, covering a broad range of locations and gathering a diverse array of perspectives along the way. Students visited historical and cultural sites throughout Galway, Derry and Belfast, ranging from picturesque medieval towns to contemporary political murals colorfully commemorating the region’s recent history.

Each location offered a unique glimpse into “the Troubles,” a term often used to describe the longstanding civil unrest prompted by political, economic and social inequality throughout the region. Students connected with guides who shared f irst-hand accounts of Bloody Sunday in Derry and bombings in Belfast as the group walked through former sites of violence and unrest. The classes met with a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) member, who shared his own journey from protester to peace activist. In Belfast, they visited the art-laden Peace Wall that historically divided the city into segregated neighborhoods. “Ireland has always been politically active; the people watch our civil rights movements, and they’ve paid close attention to our response – from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo – as a catalyst for change around the world,” says Anderson of the inf luence of American activism on Irish culture.

The professors emphasized the importance of considering multiple points of view and approaching the experience with open hearts and minds.

“We learned that there’s trauma on both sides of the conf lict; there are shared experiences that those close to the events aren’t always able to see,” shared Anderson, reminding that while there is currently peace in the region, tension still exists and occasionally threatens to erupt.

The art class projects centered around journal entries and landscape drawing. Students created throughout the day, gathering at night to share and ref lect as a group.

“Students learn so much through immersion in another culture that they would not learn by simply reading about it,” shares End, whose class will record stories gathered from the trip using technology in the Haggerty Library. These projects will eventually be shared on the library’s website.

Despite the somber subject matter, the classes also shared many lighthearted moments. Peppered across the experience were trips to Giant’s Causeway, with spectacular coastal views of towering basalt rocks, and a Viking settlement, where they learned about the birth of Irish language and culture. The group ended with a visit to the kitchen of Irish celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio, where they prepared and ate a traditional Irish meal together.

Participants arrived home with an expanded perspective of their own history and humanity, and a renewed understanding of the interconnected impact of their actions. Seeing students make these broader connections to their own lives is what inspires Anderson.

“The trip – as well as studying abroad in general – helps promote empathy and understanding of other cultures,” he shares. “We’re reminded to be thoughtful and considerate in the decisions we make, knowing that the eyes of the world are on us. I think that’s what makes it so worthwhile.” n

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Tour of murals in the Bogside, Derry, Northern Ireland. Group at Tony Johnston’s home with harpist and Jon McCourt. (Bottom left) Group in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Students outside of the Titanic Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Students Paris Throne (left) and Anastasia Paulino (right) at the Ballyknocken Cookery School.

Inclusive Eleg ance

From an early age, Sasha Walton ’13 knew that she wanted to make her mark in fashion. As a teenager, Walton hoped to model but experienced frustration at the lack of opportunities for plus-sized women. But where others may have seen only obstacles, this enterprising designer saw opportunity.

“As a teenager I wanted to look good but didn’t have lots of clothing options,” she shares. “I took inspiration from the runway and applied it to make designs that work on different body sizes. I wanted to have a positive inf luence and make clothes that look good on us plus sized women, instead of just the frumpy styles we often only have available.”

After teaching herself to sew and construct her own garments, Walton discovered and applied to the fashion program at Mount Mary. The program turned out to be a launchpad for a future fashion career, exposing her to invaluable information and opening doors to new possibilities.

Walton took every chance to perfect her craft as a student. She became prof icient at sewing, but also learned the importance of patience and perseverance. Determined to carve out a niche in an underrepresented area of fashion, Walton f irst modeled her designs in the student fashion show during her sophomore year.

The ambitious fashionista describes a study abroad trip to Paris – considered by many the fashion capital of the world – as one of the most inf luential and game changing experiences in her academic career.

“It was my f irst time away from home and I loved it. I learned something new every day,” says Walton, who took classes at the Paris American Academy during her trip. There, she studied techniques in beading, embroidery and feather embellishments that continued to inf luence her work a decade later.

Sasha Walton '13 surrounded by her garment designs. Models wearing Walton's runway fashions.

For designer Sasha Walton ’13, fashion is about

embracing beauty,

inclusivity and empowerment

Since graduating, Walton has shown designs on runways around the world. Her Goddesses of Power collection was featured in London’s African Fashion Week, and her work has appeared on runways from the Midwest to Milan. While the designer draws inspiration from sources ranging from 1950s Hollywood glamour to multicultural patterns and color palettes, she cites her grandmother as the primary inf luence in both life and work. “She raised me to be a strong woman and taught me that we can be resilient and own our power by embracing our femininity,” ref lects Walton.

The designer recently worked with the online fashion retailer Shein to develop a mass-produced line of clothing, opening the door to affordable and accessible fashions for women. She describes the learning curve of working with a large company as challenging, but also educational and rewarding.

“Going through the mass production process was def initely a new experience,” she says, adding that it equipped her with technical knowledge and a new understanding of the industry.

Walton continues to create boutique pieces through her line, House of Solana. The one-of-a-kind pieces include both evening and everyday wear, bringing glamour within the reach of local fashionistas. Select pieces from several of her original collections were also included in the designer’s runway show held this February on the Mount Mary campus.

For Walton, fashion design is about having fun and embracing a spirit of celebration. She believes in shattering the conf ining industry standards and redef ining beauty as open and inclusive.

“I want women to feel beautiful in clothes that are f lattering within a range of ages and body shapes; to remember their own sense of self-worth,” she says.

When asked what advice she would offer to students aspiring to break into the fashion industry, Walton ref lects on the importance of lessons learned both in and outside the classroom.

“Learn from your mistakes, incorporate everything you’re taught in school. And most of all, never lose sight of who you truly are.” n

Listen to an interview with Sasha Walton at



The Mount Mary University Voices of Leadership event has been inviting inspirational women leaders to campus since 2014. Speakers at the event share their experiences, stories and best practices, and provide engaging conversations, as well as resources and tools students need to pursue their own leadership potential.

This annual event connects approximately 300 local and national business leaders and alumni. The Mount Mary student experience is enhanced by incorporating the themes of the keynote address into student projects that align with course learning objectives.

Voices of Leadership Through the Years

In 2014, Mount Mary began the Voices of Leadership Studio and Stage series. Each event in the series revolved around a central topic inviting women to converse with leaders whose experiences relate to the topic, such as entrepreneurship, innovation, or social change. In 2017, Voices of Leadership was re-imagined to feature a singular annual event. While the format of the event has changed, a variety of trailblazing women from across the professional spectrum have continued to share their personal and career challenges and triumphs. Audiences leave encouraged and motivated with tangible action items to help them continue to develop their own leadership objectives.

Voices of Leadership Announces 2024 Keynote Speaker

Mount Mary is thrilled to announce Kat Esser as the Voices of Leadership 2024 keynote speaker. Esser is a principal in the Health Equity Innovation, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a special advisor to MMU on strategic transformation. Esser works with corporate leaders who are willing to look at their organizations and commit to transforming them.

Esser has held strategic innovation leadership roles for over two decades across public and private sector companies including Calvin Klein, Martha Stewart, Kaiser Permanente, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Anthem, Pf izer, CVS Health, Center for Disease Control, Health & Human Services and the National Institutes of Health, among many others. Esser shared, “It’s an honor to ref lect on my purposedriven path with women leaders across all ages and stages of their journey, particularly the next generation of women at Mount Mary University.” n

IMPACT Join us Thursday, November 14 for the 2024 Voices of Leadership event. Find up to date details about our November keynote featuring Kat Esser and learn more about past events at CENTER FOR WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP 16 | SPRING 2024
Kat Esser, Voices of Leadership 2024 keynote speaker.

Leading the Way for Women and Children

The idea came to Mount Mary president Dr. Isabelle Cherney in a moment of quiet ref lection. Now its implementation could be one of the most profound ventures in the university’s 111 year history.

First announced in 2023, the Institute for the Advancement of Women and Children is beginning to take shape. The new initiative stands as a testament to the university’s commitment to gender equity and empowerment.

“Since our earliest days, our mission has always been to help elevate the lives of our students through knowledge,” says Cherney, who sees the Institute as a continuation of the mission begun by the School Sisters of Notre Dame over a century ago.

Through four pillars, the Institute will provide women with the tools, resources and support they need to thrive personally, academically and professionally

Through our partnerships, the Institute will foster a career connection, and provide Mount Mary students with many exciting opportunities.

Provide leadership, job shadowing and college readiness for high school students.

Develop new tech-themed summer camps for K-12 partners.

Address the racial divide in access to technology.

“The Institute will be an incubator for thought and action, where we can innovate and engage the larger community,” said Cherney. “It has always been Mount Mary’s mission to educate the vulnerable and marginalized. With the Institute, we can do more systematic research around some of the barriers these women face and f ind ways to close those gaps.”


The Four Pillars:


Foster relationships with the technology industry to create culturally responsive healthcare.

The Institute for the Advancement of Women and Children will house four distinct branches: The Center for Women’s Health and Wellness, The Center for the Advancement of Women in Technology, The Center for Women and Children’s Rights and The Center for Women’s Leadership.

“The Institute will push beyond the boundaries of Mount Mary University by providing students with meaningful experiences to increase their social mobility and explore root causes of injustice,” Cherney aid. “We will seek out partnerships with industries, nonprof its, corporations and organizations to help further the mission and create unparalleled collaborations.”

And those collaborations are already forming. Mount Mary has begun developing strategic relationships with corporations and non-prof its whose organizational missions are similarly aligned with that of the university. Through these connections, students will benef it from cutting-edge learning technology and valuable resumebuilding experience, while participating organizations will gain access to the talent and vision of the next generation of leaders. The university has secured creative projects with the Target Corporation and Amazon Web Services that have begun this year, allowing students to work hand in hand with industry leaders.

Convene conferences that discuss and research on issues that deepen MMU’s commitment to social justice.



Establish a research center on issues related to the UN Convention and the Rights of the Child.

Address gaps in the quality of healthcare across ethnic and socio-economic groups.

“Through our partnerships, the Institute will foster a career connection, and provide Mount Mary students with many exciting opportunities,” Cherney said. “This holistic workforce development will empower our students and ultimately enhance the entire community.” n


“ I am so grateful to be at Mount Mary University. All the teachers and staff are friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere is comfortable and joyful. The weather is cold, but people are so warm here – I love MMU! ”

“ Twenty years ago when I enrolled in college, I never would have dreamed that I would go from a student at an all-women's institution studying business to becoming an assistant professor teaching women in the classroom. I'm elated, honored, and excited to continue to support women and excellence in education! ”

“ Why MMU”

Our community of students, faculty, staff, administration and alumni reflect on why they chose to study, teach and work at Mount Mary – and the defining qualities that make our campus such an incredible place to call home!

“ It wasn’t until I was working that I understood the ideas of servant leadership and social justice. Mount Mary’s focus on ethics, leadership and sense of community ties back to my Catholic education from an early age. I came here as an MBA student and now I teach international business at the university.. in my class, we explore the real and impactful implications of ethics in the business world ”

“ I came to Mount Mary for athletics –I play basketball. The campus feels like a community; the people I’ve met are always ready to help ”

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“ I love the close-knit and family –oriented community at Mount Mary. I know I can always reach out for help anytime I need it ”

“ Mount Mary is a special place where myriad perspectives, experiences and passions are shared amongst faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members. Mount Mary is a special place where this sharing is encouraged, ongoing, and characteristic of a mission-focused institution working towards social justice for our world. Why Mount Mary? Quite simply, we are in a special place where I continue to grow with others, for others ”

“ MMU offers a distinctive educational experience marked by its commitment to empowering women, fostering leadership, and promoting social justice. Choosing Mount Mary means joining a community dedicated to academic excellence, personal growth, and social responsibility ”

“ As a Latina faculty member and specialist for multilingual learners, MMU provides me with a supportive environment where I can nurture culturally responsive pedagogies and encourage a spirit of HSI service among our faculty and staff, all aimed at better supporting our diverse population. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of underrepresented young females in a Hispanic Serving Institution ”

“ As a mom who was working full time – raising two little humans – it was not easy at all. However, having the professors and faculty that I had in my life just being able to motivate and empower me to keep going, and having the support system that I had was a blessing. Having my kids see me walk across the stage twice – for my undergrad and master's degree – brings a sense of pride, admiration and joy! ”

“ Every time I sit down with a student, I see, hear and feel a fire set ablaze, a drive so remarkably intense. The determination is gravitational. So why MMU? The answer’s easy –because I always see students giving their all and trying their best to live a life they desire! ”

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Paying it Forward


Mary Ann Snedic Wunderlin ’63 credits Mount Mary with teaching her to see. “The eyes are art,” Snedic Wunderlin said. “In order to draw, sculpt, paint, you have to notice things that others don’t. And my training at Mount Mary opened my eyes to this creative world.”

After graduating with an art degree from Mount Mary in 1963, the aspiring creative set off on a whirlwind artistic career. She worked as an art teacher for seven years before deciding to devote all of her time to her craft. Breaking from tradition, she built a name for herself crafting realistic farm scenes using weathered boards and other scraps from deteriorating barns near her home in Minnesota. Those works have won her awards and accolades nationwide, but she traces it all back to her foundation at her alma mater.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Mount Mary,” she shares. “I had no formal training when I came to the campus, and I was petrif ied that I was going to f lunk because all the other students had been creating art for years. But the nuns took me under their wings and taught me to see differently and think creatively To this day I can still see their faces as they encouraged me to expand my thinking.”

And now the 83-year old is paying it forward by establishing the Mary Ann Snedic Wunderlin Art Scholarship to help current Mount Mary art students reach their goals so that f inancial needs won’t stif le their creativity. So far, her scholarship has helped dozens of students complete their Mount Mary art education, and she has witnessed the impact f irsthand.

“I’ve met many of the young scholarship recipients –they are such a joy,” she shares. “I’m surrounded by these beautiful young women who will see the world differently.”

Snedic Wunderlin believes that providing the scholarship has added dimension to her life. Now, in addition to her creative pieces, she is leaving a legacy that will last for years to come. And she urges other Mount Mary graduates to consider doing the same.

“Alums who are blessed should help these women pursue their careers. If I can take some pressure off a student who maybe has two jobs, childcare and other homelife issues, I’m so thankful to play a small role in their success,” Wunderlin said.

Proof that Mount Mary has opened her eyes in so many ways. n

© SIOUX CITY ART CENTER Mary Ann Snedic Wunderlin '63 in her studio.

Giving Day Success

On February 22, Mount Mary commemorated Founders Day by honoring the School Sisters of Notre Dame and their long-held tradition of educating the leaders of tomorrow through competence, community, compassion and commitment.

To celebrate our history and propel the vision of the university forward, we asked you, our community, to come together in support of four Giving Day 2024 initiatives. And you did!

Thank you to the 77 generous donors who gave $36,932 to the Giving Day Campaign!





We are grateful for the many ways you continue to share your blessings with the Mount Mary students and community! Thank you!

GIVING DAY 2025 • FEBRUARY 20-2 1 , 2025


Connecting communities, embracing multicultural identities

For Dominique Mueller, helping people feel seen and welcome is at the heart of her work at the Target Corporation. The company’s senior director of inclusive design and culture visited campus last semester to share her work as an advocate for diversity and inclusion.

During a fall semester presentation at Mount Mary titled The Path to Purposeful Design, Mueller highlighted how her childhood experiences ignited a life-long passion for social justice. A refugee of the Vietnam War, Mueller saw opportunities open while simultaneously feeling exclusion in her new home in the United States, where her family members were viewed as outsiders. These experiences proved pivotal in her desire to open the doors of belonging for others.

Inclusive products aren’t just good for business. They reflect the rapidly growing diversity within the American landscape – and the world.

During her 17-year career with Target, Mueller has helped shape the conversation around the importance of customers being able to see themselves represented in a brand. “When you don’t intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude,” she says.

Building Relationships

To Mueller, a commitment to inclusion is as much an essential strategy for businesses as it is a moral imperative. “Innovation, technology and creating a thriving environment for everyone is the only way for a society to grow and thrive,” she says. “But it has to be more than just checking a box,” she adds, stressing the importance of building relationships based on authenticity and trust, rather than just selling products. To accomplish this, Mueller believes in sparking meaningful conversation between businesses and the customers they serve.

“Inclusive products aren’t just good for business. They ref lect the rapidly growing diversity within the American landscape – and the world,” she says.

Mueller sees her work as a duty to others, a responsibility that she embraces as both a leader in the company and as a mentor to young professionals of color. She encourages those with whom she works to use their voices to effect change, while helping the professionals understand that they hold more power than they may realize.

When asked what message she would impart to Mount Mary students, Mueller didn’t hesitate.

“The actions we take and values we project matter,” she emphasizes. “Taking risks is important and essential. Change happens in small moments. Sometimes it’s over the course of generations; we can’t always see it immediately. But it’s always moving forward.” n

The Target Corporation is sponsoring a course at Mount Mary this spring. The company cites an alignment in mission and values between the two organizations in initiating the collaboration. Both organizations share a commitment to diverse, multicultural perspectives, and will explore a multidisciplinary collaboration. Mount Mary is excited to be a part of this project as it continues to unfold.

Dominique Mueller presented her story during a fall 2023 visit to campus.


Advocacy for Education on Capitol Hill

In February, Dr. Cherney traveled to Washington D.C. with the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU) to meet with state representatives. The group shared concerns with elected officials and advocated for increased Pell Grant funding.

Private higher educational institutions are responsible for creating a large proportion of the workforce, particularly in areas of healthcare such as nursing. This contributes an estimated $651.9 billion to the national economy each year, according to data provided by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Cherney and her group were part of a larger gathering of NAICU and Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) advocates in the nation’s capital.

CBS 58 Hometown Spotlight on Mount Mary

In fall, Mount Mary was the focus for two different news features by CBS 58. On Monday, November 13, reporter Emerson Lehmann profiled highlights around the university, including Biology and the Anatomage table, Interior Architecture and Design in the virtual reality room, the Fashion Archive and the Nursing Skills Lab.

On November 14, reporter Michael Schlesinger visited the Food Lab to speak live on-air with faculty and students from our Dietetics and Food Science programs.

(Left to right) WAICU president Eric W. Fulcomer, Mount Mary University president Isabelle Cherney, Marian University of Wisconsin president Michelle E. Majewski, representative Mark Pocan, Concordia University Wisconsin president Erik Ankerberg, and Mary Czech-Mrochinski, Marquette University Office of Public Affairs senior director.
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Caroline Hall Renovates Space for Community Connection

Campus has a newly refreshed space for all students, staff and faculty to enjoy. Staff and administration volunteered their time over winter break to transform the College Dining Room (which had previously served as a storage space) into a place for dining, programming and building connections. Updates included refreshed paint, new and re-purposed furniture and a piano. Thank you to Keri Alioto, vice president of student affairs, who generously donated $5,000 in honor of her parents, Tom and Eileen Alioto, to fund this project.


Sharon Slear, SSND is a faculty member at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she helped develop graduate programs in education, and spear-headed development of the university's Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for changing populations. During her tenure, S. Sharon led the education department as it sought and received national accreditation (CAEP) for all graduate and undergraduate education programs. S. Sharon was appointed founding dean of the program in 2011.

S. Sharon was voted one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women three times. In 2009 she became a member of the Maryland Circle of Excellence in recognition of her professional achievements, and received the NCEA Educator of the Year award. In 2012, S. Sharon received the President's Medal from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

Jeff Hembrock has an undergraduate degree in Business from Penn State University and a Master of Science degree in Business from Cardinal Stritch University. He had an extended career with Miller Brewing Company spanning 39 years, most recently serving as president of the company. Since retiring, Hembrock has devoted his time to working with startups and smaller companies, contributing to a portfolio of growing and successful companies across a wide range of industries.

He also devotes his time to higher education, recently completing two years as a senior fellow at Harvard in their esteemed Advanced Leadership Initiative. He has served on the boards of Cardinal Stritch University, the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Foundation and Mount Mary University.

Becky Pinter is the president/CEO of Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, Inc. (MACC Fund). In her role, she helps identify potential sponsors, building relationships between the MACC Fund, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the UW Carbone Cancer Center and the Marshfield Clinic.

Pinter received her executive education from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Master of Science in Management from Cardinal Stritch University. In her previous role she served as director of development for the Milwaukee Catholic Home. In 2014, Pinter was recognized as a 40 Under 40 honoree for her leadership.

Marjorie Rucker is the executive director of The Business Council, Inc., an organization that assists ethnically diverse businesses in connecting to supplier diversity initiatives in Wisconsin and abroad. Rucker is also the chair of the Ethnic and Diverse Business Coalition (EDBC), an organization of chambers of commerce and community development financial institutions that help ethnic minority, LGBTQ+ and veteran-owned businesses. She serves on several local and statewide boards all tailored to economic development in Wisconsin.

Rucker earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Mount Mary University in 2000 and a Juris Doctorate from Vermont Law School in 2003. In 2020 she was recognized by the Milwaukee Business Journal as a Women of Influence, and was a 2023 Diversity in Business award winner.

Nicole Biddle (left) and Theresa Utschig (right), along with other staff and faculty volunteers helped renovate the College Dining Room in early 2024.

Celestial Conversations

The work of sculptor Richard Hunt, who died in early 2024, has been a fixture on the Mount Mary campus for nearly a quarter century. Hunt was regarded by many as the foremost AfricanAmerican abstract sculptor and artist of public sculpture. His piece, Celestial Conversations, was installed in 2000 on the Mount Mary campus just outside Caroline Hall, where it still resides. The artwork was commissioned by William Simpson for his wife, Marilyn to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her graduation (Class of 1947). It drew inspiration from the story of St. Anthony of Padua, depicting fish leaping from the water and birds descending from the heavens as he spoke.

MMU Launches

New Peace and Justice Club

The MMU Off ice of Mission and Justice launched a new student organization devoted to exploring non-violence and conf lict resolution. The Peace and Justice Club will feature guest speakers with connections to peace advocacy, covering topics such as racial justice, immigration, human traff icking and environmental justice.


The Black Student Union, together with Student Affairs and the Office of Mission and Justice, held a series of events to mark Black History Month on campus – and beyond. On February 8, a group of students, staff and faculty visited the America's Black Holocaust Museum. The museum has been a staple in Milwaukee's Bronzeville community for decades, but for many in the group it was the first time visiting. “It was such a cool experience,” shared assistant director of Residence Life Jamie Hollins Mast.

Helping Student Parents Reach Academic Excellence

Generation Hope created the FamilyU seal, a national certif ication for higher education institutions and nonprof it organizations making signif icant strides in serving student parents and helping them achieve outstanding educational outcomes.

Mount Mary University was among the inaugural 13 higher education institutions receiving the FamilyU seal for its work with student parents. The Student Affairs team was instrumental in this achievement, thanks to their continued work with our student parents and their children, and to our faculty and staff for their steadfast support for making their educational dreams a reality!

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This section highlights recent noteworthy accomplishments and awards of Mount Mary University faculty, staff and students.


Jordan Acker Anderson, M.F.A., Art, was selected as an ARTservancy artist-in-residence for the 20242025 program with Gallery 224 of Port Washington and the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust-Huiras Lake State Natural Area. Acker Anderson also had paintings selected for display at the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc, Wis. and the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wis.

Joshua Anderson, M.F.A., Art, collaborated and exhibited with artist collective, Paintallica, in the Make Believe in Yourself show at the NE Sculpture Gallery Factory in Minneapolis, Minn. Sept. 29Oct. 21, 2023.

Stephanie Beisbier, PP-OTD, OTR/L, Occupational Therapy, presented a session, Adopting a Workload Approach in Your Everyday Practice, at the Cooperative Education Service Agency (CESA) #1 Occupational Therapy/Physical Therapy Conference, November 3, 2023.

Exploring the Role of AI in Higher Education

In January, faculty were invited to attend Reimagining Teaching and Def ining Academic Integrity in the Age of Generative AI Writing Tools, an on-campus workshop exploring issues around artif icial intelligence in higher education. The event was presented by Torrey Trust, Ph.D., professor of Learning Technology in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Trust’s work explores the relationship between teaching, learning and technology, and has been featured in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, WIRED, Tech & Learning, The Hill, Education Week and New Scientist.

Trust shared ideas for responsible, ethical use of emerging technology, as well as ways in which faculty can adopt AI to promote creativity, communication and critical thinking in the classroom.

Caitlyn Booms, Ph.D., Mathematics, presented her graduate thesis work at the New Experiences in Teaching (NExT) Conference, December 2023.

Kathy Boyle, Ph.D., Biology/Math and Sciences completed her professional certificate in diversity, equity and inclusion through the Center for Professional and Executive Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Business.

Mary Burton, UX Design and Marmy Clason, Ph.D., Communication, were two of a group of several administrators, faculty, staff and students who visited the Amazon Web Services (AWS) headquarters in Arlington, Va. to explore collaborations between AWS and MMU. Burton is also part of the Infuse Project, that will work to create culturally sensitive AI using technology funded through credits from AWS.

Mount Mary students, faculty and administration during a fall 2023 visit to the Amazon Web Services headquarters in Arlington, VA.

26 | SPRING 2024

Jeremy Edison, Ph.D., Mathematics, taught two dual credit courses at the Hmong American Peace Academy: MAT 109 (Math for the Health Professionals) and MAT 251 (Calculus I).

Ethan Harrod, Ph.D., Psychological Science, attended the 2023 Society of Experimental Social Psychology (SESP) conference in Madison, Wis. Harrod also designed and co-facilitated an on-campus workshop for faculty on the use of RStudio as a coding and statistical tool.

Julie Hunley, Ph.D., OT/L, CLT, Occupational Therapy, presented a session, Current Evidence on Patient Precautions for Reducing Lymphedema Manifestation and Exacerbation Risks, at the Forward Momentum: Future Steps in Lymphedema Management Conference. Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. October 7, 2023.

Kari Inda, Ph.D., OTR/L, CEAS, Occupational Therapy, presented a two-part session titled, Constructing Multiple Choice Questions Using Bloom’s Taxonomy, for Mercy University, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., September 13 and 27, 2023.

Rachel Jones Lipinski, Ph.D., Biochemistry, attended a virtual process orientated guided inquiry and learning (POGIL) workshop of designing student lead directed laboratories.

R. Zac Karanovich, Ph.D., Theology, was awarded a fellowship by the Nielsen Center for the Liberal Arts at Eckerd College. This program supports early-career liberal arts college faculty through supportive learning community and national network.

Pat Kempen, M.S., R.D.N., C.D., Dietetics, served as a Project Team Member for the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin (AHW) Community-led Seed Grant project in 2024, Building Skills of WI Dietetic Professionals to Meet Evolving Needs of Nutrition Insecure Clients, for $50,000. She also served with a primary community organization for the Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a community partner with Mount Mary University Dietetics.

Founders Day 2024 Award Winners

Celebrated Feb. 22, 2024


Michelle Smalley, Director of Learning Services Michelle is recognized as an advocate for equity on campus. Those nominating her stated that she is always available to talk with students and staff about whatever concerns they may have, providing a friendly, empathetic manner to those around her.


Carrie King, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, Professor/ Department Chair, Professional Counseling Educating the whole person has been central to Carrie’s mission as she has helped develop and guide the graduate counseling program to its preeminent place of excellence in our local and national academic world.



Theresa Utschig, Director of Campus Ministry Theresa Utschig was nominated for her ability to foster connections across the campus community. According to one nominator, Theresa creates solidarity with others, and promotes a sense of social justice and peace among everyone she encounters. As campus minister, she seeks to include students and employees of all faiths, always acting with respect towards others.

tudent W inners

MOTHER CAROLINE FRIESS AWARD 2024: Megan Frerichs is a junior double majoring in Art Therapy and Theology. She plans to study Clinical Psychology, and earn her Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology. Megan wants to serve underserved populations by providing them with high-quality mental health services including diagnosis, therapy, grant writing and advocating for the rights of marginalized people. Megan grew up in a community of strong women who lead their lives with “fierce compassion.” Her goal is to use her research to change healthcare policies, and to make systematic changes in healthcare so that marginalized populations are better served.

BLESSED THERESA OF JESUS GERHARDINGER AWARD: Jamy McClain is an Human Biology Pre-Dietetics major with a minor in Spanish. Jamy loves serving children, and her career goal is to open a wholistic wellness center connecting people from all zip codes and financial status to resources such as fresh foods, nutrition counseling, movement classes, cooking classes, therapy, art and more. For Jamy, Mount Mary has truly been a blessing, and she is “forever grateful to be a part of this community.”


Louise Kessler, Ph.D., Biology, gave the December commencement address, a longtime Mount Mary tradition for the faculty member who receives the University’s Full-time Teaching Excellence Award.

Trish Kuehnl, M.A., Fashion and Fashion Archive Curator Amanda Cacich presented the talk Barbie and Pink: Influencing the Past, Present and Future of Fashion, at the Menomonee Falls chapter of New Beginnings.

Amy Lauer, Ph.D., Psychological Science, submitted an abstract titled Market-ready Psychology Majors: Resources for Professional Development Across the Curriculum, that was accepted for presentation at the annual Midwestern Psychological Association conference in Chicago, Ill.

Claire Lockard, Ph.D., Philosophy, attended the 40th Anniversary Conference for Hypatia (a journal in feminist philosophy) where she presented her paper, Straight Philosophic Habits and Queer Methodologies: Hermeneutic Purity and Him Q. Hall’s Account of Institutional Philosophy. Lockard also received a mini grant to support her travels to present at the 2024 meeting of the American Philosophical Association, Central Division.

Jewel Scholars Shine a Light on Antibiotic Research

Focus on Water Resources: Guatemala

This January, Mount Mary students traveled to Guatemala to work with Global Partners: Running Waters (GPRW). The non-profit builds relationships through water, food, health and education projects throughout rural Latin America.

Led by Dr. Jason Meyler, the group of students lived with families in the village of Chinique, Quiche. The group also visited the village of Tzununa to see a recent GPRW water project.

Julie Maher, DNP, RN, C-EFM, Nursing, attended the American Association Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Deans Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., meeting AACN Leadership and peers to explore how colleagues from across the nation are addressing issues, trends, and strategic priorities impacting academic nursing. She also discussed how the human side of health care is important to the patients and their families, can heal health care, and restore trust and pave a brighter future for nurses.

Elizabeth Markham, M.S.N., Ph.D., RN, Nursing, has completed her leadership role as president of Wisconsin Nurses Association. She fulfilled this role with an abundance of knowledge, experience and much success.

Five Mount Mary Biology undergraduate students attended the North Central Branch meeting of the American Society

Megan Oertel, Health Sciences

Simulation Lab Manager, presented Modification of an Unused Manikin at Idea. Innovate. Disseminate, Educate. Advocate (IMSH), in San Diego, Calif. She designed this manikin to have vital signs, ability to communicate through technology and the capability to bleed, creating a high-fidelity simulation for nursing education.

Elena Pitts, M.F.A. and Ashley Brooks, Fashion, led Draping Fundamentals and Fashion Design students to develop math-inspired designs for inclusion in the Fashion Program’s second popup exhibit collaboration with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. MMoCA selected works from two ’23 alumni and nine current students for display in Fashion Focus | Imaginary i, on display at the museum this past winter (See full story on page 4).

Rita Quinones de Magalhães, Ph.D., Biology, participated in the Teaching Ecology with Human-Environment Interactions Faculty Mentoring Network (FMN), offered by the Transforming Ecology Education to 4D (TEE) project of the Ecological Society of America, with support from the National Science Foundation.

Congratulations to our 51 junior and senior nursing students, who received their white coats in a ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 17. The event affirmed the students' commitment to both their profession and the mission of service in healthcare.

Mount Mary will recognize its first graduating class from the School of Nursing at the commencement ceremony this May 18.

Paula Reiter, Ph.D., Dr. Julie Tatlock, Ph.D., Sociology, History, and Abbie Joranger, Haggerty Library, created a special collection and bibliography for students in a course on the Salem witch trials.

Lakiesha Russell, M.S., LPC, Psychological Science, was hired as Clinical Director of the campus Counseling & Wellness Center. Russell is an alumna of Mount Mary for both her Bachelor (Psychology) and Master (Community Counseling) degrees.

Dana Scheunemann, Ph.D., M.S., R.D., C.D., Dietetics, was a reviewer for the Food-Medication-Supplement Interactions Pocket Guide (tentative title), in development from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She also started on the board of editors for Nutrition Care Process Terminology.

Gean Swiatko-Klee, M.S.N., R.N., A.C.R.N., R.DH., I-MHE, Nursing, was awarded the WSNA Advisor Award at Wisconsin Student Nurses Association Convention. Swiatko-Klee will present her work, Retrieval Practice for Better Education Outcomes, at conferences in Green Bay, Wis., Minneapolis, Minn., Orlando, Fla. and Park City, Utah.

Caring for Caregivers

Occupational Therapy student Nicole Mueller launched a group called Caring for Caregivers, focused on supporting the wellbeing of those helping family members with illness and advanced age. Based in Elk Mound, Wis., the group will host workshops focused on topics like fall prevention and home safety, maintaining personal wellness and preventing burnout.

SPRING 2024 | 29

Melody Todd, M.S., ATR, Art Therapy, retired after 28 years guiding the undergraduate Art Therapy program. The new program lead is Monique Matic, LPC, LCPC, ATR-BC, formerly of Mount Mary’s Art Therapy graduate program.

Vanessa Varela, M.A.Ed., Education, earned the 2024 Patricia H. Weisberg Scholarship Award in the Graduate School of Education at Marquette University.

Interior Architecture and Design Students Represent at NARI Spring Show

Students and faculty from Mount Mary attended the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) spring trade show.

The MMU team, which consisted of first year, transfer and postbaccalaureate students, tackled this year's design challenge theme, "Grand Millennial." Their project (pictured above) takes a fresh look at vintageinspired decor, pairing retro flourishes with bold, emerald green accents.

Kristin Whyte, Ph.D., Education was an invited visiting teaching professor of Education at the University of Wisconsin School of Education.

Graduate Art Therapy Faculty completed their initial self-study and site visit for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), a new accreditation for graduate Art Therapy programs nationally. The site visit took place in December 2023.


Amara Aguilera, Art Education, exhibited two works with Walker’s Point Center for the Arts during Mexican Fiesta at the Summerfest Grounds, August 25-27, 2023.

Shawna Butler, Biology, was awarded a nationally competitive American Cancer Society (ACS) Diversity in Cancer Research (DICR) post-bacc position, and is working in the laboratory of Gustavo Leone, Ph.D., the director of the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center.

Edith Bautista, Art Therapy interned with Cream City Clay to learn about running a community ceramics studio business and had the opportunity to independently teach a clay workshop while there.

Maggie Bowen, Early Childhood/ Elementary Education, and her son Josiah were featured in an article in late 2023 by U.S. Catholic about colleges supporting student parents.

Micaela Gonzalez, Exercise Science, completed Personal Trainer Certificate Training, and is currently employed at VASA fitness.

Danielle Muhr, Integrated Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, received the Roundy’s Game Changer scholarship.

Learning Diabetes Management

In January, Mount Mary Dietetics graduate students had the opportunity to join the Pharmacy and Physician Assistant students at Concordia University Wisconsin for a diabetes devices workshop. Students attended an excellent learning session and were able to install and wear a Dexcom G7 sensor themselves in order to gain a better understanding of how the devices operate.

Students from the division of Business, Communication and Technology were well represented at the fall 2023 Amazon Web Services visit: Taylor Robinson (Communication), Danielle Weary (Communication and User Experience), Winla Vang (User Experience), and A’Shunti Tillman (Graphic Design and User Experience) contributed their ideas during the fall visit.

Arches students Dolores Martinez and Grace MacKinnon presented speeches honoring inductees to the Milwaukee Media Hall of Fame on October 27, 2023 at the annual celebration held by the Milwaukee Press Club.

Counseling graduate students Chiền

Binh Nho Son and Amanda Long were selected for the 2024 National Board for Certified Counselors Minority Fellowship Program (NBCC MFP).

Counseling graduate students Shada

Richardson and Adam Kinzer were selected for the Wisconsin Well Bee's Consortium for the Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant.

Makayla Genck (left), Alison Rohloff (center), Juan Yunga Tigre (right).



2013 Sasha Walton, founder and CEO of House of Solana, hosted her fashion show at Mount Mary University this February. Walton recently appeared on the I am Mount Mary podcast, discussing inspiration behind her work.

2014 Raja Aossey-Jensen is a board-certified art therapist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. Aossey-Jensen was featured in an article about the benefits of art therapy that appeared in the December 30, 2023 edition of the Toledo Blade titled Art therapy helps young people get in touch with emotions.

Alum Named as Influential Leader

Shakita LaGrant-McClain '09 and '11 was recognized as one of Madison 365’s 51 most inf luential black leaders for 2023, as well as a “Disruptor” by the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee, a “Notable BIPOC Executive” by the BizTimes Milwaukee, and named a “Woman of Inf luence” by The Milwaukee Business Journal. LaGrant-McClain earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Business Administration from Mount Mary University.

2014 Katrina Vrakas visited with Fashion students on campus in April. Vrakas was a Fashion Merchandising Management major who now owns a fine jewelry business in New York City.

2015 Laura Polakowski joined the outpatient therapies team at Aspirus Outpatient Therapies in Houghton and Laurium. Polakowski also specializes in pediatrics, sensory processing, emotional regulation, home health, fine and visual motor skills, and school-based therapy.

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2017 Britt Tillman and her husband Matt welcomed their first child, Oliver, in December.

2017 and 2022 Kinishewa Quinn became director of finance at Penfield Children's Center.

2019 Hannah Blanchard started a new position as instructional aide at the Richardson School.

2019 Essence Curry was promoted to production coordinator in Women’s Sonoma (woven tops, dresses and skirts) at Kohl's.

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Bridal Boutique Blooms

Abby Janiszewski ' 12 visited campus in fall and spoke to Fashion majors about her local businesses, Strike Bridal Bar and Rare Bridal Bar, featuring extended sizes. Through both of her businesses, Janiszewski strives to celebrate diversity and promote body positivity while providing clients with a boutique experience.

Connectingwith FLORIDA ALUMS

Dr. Cherney and senior development officer Lisa Breitsprecker visited Bradenton, Sebring, Naples and West Palm Beach, Fla. this January to connect with a group of Mount Mary alums over several lunch events. The group enjoyed reuniting over fond memories and sharing updates, while learning about the new programs and developments unfolding at their alma mater. Highlights included a couple sharing stories about their travel business, an alumna receiving her Marian Club pin and a rekindled connection with a classmate visiting from Belize.

(Top photo) Karen Kergen Lagerman '73 and Judee Ratzman Johnsen '77 (Bottom photo) Cathy Hawley Heitman '71 and Maureen Borden Utsman '71


2020 Carly Vickerman earned a User Experience (UX) Design certificate from Cornell University.

2021 Chris (Catelyn) Milinski started a new position as mental health technician at Granite Hills Hospital in West Allis, Wis.

2021 Shoua Xiong showed her collection at the Fresh Traditions Fashion show in Minneapolis this past October. The work incorporated Hmong American embroidery into modern evening wear.

2022 Aley Schiessl-Moore is the current special events specialist with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, assisting coordination of fundraising events on benefit of the Zoological Society and the Milwaukee County Zoo. Schiessl-Moore will had her poem, A Scream, included in issue 23 of Wild Roof Journal (November 2023).

2023 Marissa Kohler started a new position as a substance abuse counselor in-training at Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.

2023 Lauren Plantinga accepted a new position as associate liaison, field marketing at Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin.

2023 Nohemi Chavez continued her artist residency at Mitchell Street Arts (MiSA) a new non-profit arts center located on historic Mitchell Street. In December, she had the opportunity to facilitate her first public screen-printing class offering.

2023 Chantel Gates joined the Milwaukee Art Museum as an art conservation intern and enjoyed the experience of working firsthand with artwork in the museum.

Listeners can access the podcast directly from mtmar . New episodes will be added weekly.

LIFE OF LEGACY: Remembering Local Historical Preser vationist

Irene Blau ’83 made a lasting impact on local history as a founding member of the Germantown Historical Society and the organization’s f irst president. Through her drawings and research, Blau helped champion local historical preservation, connecting the past and present and helping list Germantown’s Christ Church building (1862) on the National Register of Historic Places. She also led efforts to purchase the land and buildings that would later become the Dheinsville Historic Park. Blau passed away on Dec. 25 at the age of 94. She is survived by her husband of 73 years, Frank J. Blau, Jr. and their nine children.

An ODE to Mentors

Former Mount Mary student Raejean Kanter and alumni Van Nguyen ’09 and Cheryl Von Asten ’11 published Who Held the Door Open?, a book sharing the stories of five women as they overcame life’s challenges through the guidance and support of mentors. The publication received recognition at the 2023 New York Book Festival and a Five Star review from Readers Choice Books.

Are you an alum entrepreneur? Sign up to be part of the online alumnae-owned business directory. SPRING 2024 | 33 CLASS NOTES

Continued from page 5


She incorporated pleating and draping into her garment design, a dark green gown evoking vines and leaves f lowing across the dress silhouette.

Senior Mileisis Romero, whose mockups were displayed digitally in the gallery, also chose nature as her muse. Romero’s designs referenced both starf ish and icosahedrons (20-sided geometric forms), which inspired her colorful, spikey creations that will appear on the runway during the department’s CREO fashion show this May

Sophomores Brianna Coronado and Monserrat Delgado approached the challenge from different perspectives. Coranado was intrigued by optical illusions, while Delgado connected a myriad of mathematical concepts together. Both students expressed that they learned a lot in the process, describing the sense of pride in seeing their designs on display in the show.

While the design project proved challenging, it also prompted the design classes to break out of their comfort zones, encouraging exploration of different materials and processes. Students expressed delight at seeing their work come to life, and gratitude for the conf idence and professional experience gained along the way

“We hope this experience will help students continue to grow,” said Brooks. “This was a great way to get students thinking about a different way to get inspired by something they may have never considered before.” n

For more information about the Fashion program please visit

Continued from page 7


real-life design problems while exploring different career possibilities. Seeing such projects unfold builds knowledge and understanding in ways that far surpass learning from a textbook.

Themes of awareness and social justice are woven into the f inal capstone class, when students create a design centered around solving contemporary social concerns. Each student is encouraged to explore an issue close to her heart, creating a greater sense of purpose and connection to the f inal product. Examples have ranged from proposals for more humane intake centers at the U.S. border to hubs providing safety from human traff icking.

Above all, Interior Architecture and Design faculty want students to understand their future global impact, and to appreciate their responsibility in making the world a better place from the ground up.

“It’s about understanding who we’re doing this for and creating a supportive environment for those populations we serve,” says Seno. “We’re the human connection.” n

For more information about the Interior Architecture and Design program please visit

34 | SPRING 2024 FRID AY 4 p.m. Hooding Ceremony honoring May 17, 2024 the accomplishments of our graduate students 6 p.m. Baccalaureate Mass 7 p.m. Light of Learning Ceremony S ATURD AY 11 a.m. Commencement May 18, 2024 CELEB R ATING THE C L ASS OF '24 Details at I AM MOUNT MARY


1946 Patricia M. Romano on 1/16/2024

1947 Elizabeth Cahalan on 12/26/2023

1949 Catherine A. Pauly on 8/20/2023

1949 Nancy Steigerwald on 12/24/2021

1951 Anne Woulfe on 2/16/2023

1954 Maripat Berry on 2/16/2022

1957 Margaret A. Goeden-Chapman on 12/17/2023

1960 Elizabeth Hilbert on 11/6/2022

1964 Kathleen Lauer on 1/12/2024

1964 Suzanne Wehner on 10/30/2023

1976 Lois Dale on 10/8/2023

1978 Mary Catherine Tegtmeyer on 2/18/2023

1979 Irene Doege on 1/16/2024

1983 Irene Blau on 12/25/2023

1985 Joan D. Barthel on 7/12/2023

1998 Cynthia Strauss on 1/1/2024

2011 Laura S. Kolbach on 10/21/2023

Former Faculty

Mary Bell Muller on 6/23/2023

List of deaths reported to the office as of February 26, 2024.

Please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at (414) 930-3025 or to notify us of the passing of an alum.

SPRING 2024 | 35



Mount Mary’s mission states that our university “provides an environment for the development of the whole person…[and] commits itself to excellence in teaching and learning with an emphasis on thinking critically and creatively.” This idea is visible in so many aspects of our campus community, from our unique majors that prioritize creativity and expression, to the spirit of the SSNDs in which Mount Mary was founded. Our creative soul lends itself to building a culture of authenticity, expression, spirituality and communion.

Creativity itself has a sacramental function, creating a sense of meaning that connects us to one another. Tapping into our own wellspring of ideas invites connection from the deepest part of each of us to the Divine.

It reaches into the depths of our own search for goodness, truth, beauty and transcendence, connecting us all to a greater universal meaning.

It is said that we may come to experience God through the true, the good and the beautiful. It is human to seek understanding of what is true; to listen to our deepest desires which lead us towards the good. We crave sharing what we love, and this is experienced as the beauty in life.

Virtus et Scientia is foundational to SSND education, calling for the development of the whole person. The act of communion is about being and giving to one another authentically, as we construct and transform our world. Such formation demands ref lection upon what is in our hearts; what we hold as our intrinsic values as it helps to nurture our authenticity.


Creativity elicits the unique beauty in each one of us. It elevates us from participating in the “facts” of living to creating actual meaning in living. Creating involves sharing what is most true about ourselves – what we bring through the lens of our own experiences, emotions, and identities. When shared, we help others to know us and encounter us, and we then know and encounter them.

Creativity itself has a sacramental function, creating a sense of meaning that connects us to one another.

Just as the intellect empowers us to learn about our world and all of existence, human creativity is an exercise in transcendence, leading us to knowledge and experience of what is good and beautiful. n

36 | SPRING 2024


Thank you to our alumni, donors and friends who supported Mount Mary in 2023. Through your generous and varied support, you are nurturing MMU while keeping us rooted in our history and tradition. Our students and our community are better for it!

882 Donors in 2023


$ 2,200,000+

total raised from MMU donors

$ 1,100,000+ raised for the Student Impact Fund to support the greatest needs of the university

$ 1,500,000 awarded to students as a result of scholarship donations LEARN MORE about upcoming alumni events and stay connected. GIVE

$ 611,705 given by 15 donors from legacy gifts that include bequests, life insurance proceeds, trusts, real estate or retirement funds.


Fri day evening, Oc tober 4

All-Classes Reunion & Alumni Awards Celebration Dinner

Special recognition to graduation classes of years ending in 4s and 9s (e.g. 1974, 1999). Everyone is welcome!

S atur day, Oc tober 5

Marian Club Pinning & Champagne Brunch

Celebrating new inductees from the Class of 1974 –all alums from 1974 and prior are welcome!

2900 North Menomonee River Parkway Milwaukee, WI 53222-4597 NONPROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID MILWAUKEE, WI PERMIT NO. 340 • Marian Club Pinning • Alumni Mass • Tours, Class Photos & Swag Shop • Mission & Spirit Presentation • And more!
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