Alumnae Notes

Published in the Fall 2022 issue of Inscape

Alumnae Spotlights

During our Black History Month celebration, we celebrated our Black alumnae who have been the voices and change-makers in our community. The Alumnae Department teamed up with McAuley students from the Black Student Union to conduct interviews via Zoom with our inspiring and successful alumnae.

Pam Ingersol Saindon ‘80

Pam Ingersol Saindon graduated from Mother McAuley in 1980 and went on to study Sociology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In an interview with Michelle-Marie Nimo ‘23, a junior and member of the Black Student Union, Pam shared the tangible skills she learned from McAuley that prepared her for her professional life, including both writing and social skills. “McAuley laid the foundation for me to be a good writer because they taught us how to write actively, rather than passively.” Pam’s writing skills aided her during her time at DePaul University - College of Law, where she graduated in 1995.

During her second year of law school, she was working full time, going to school at nights, and gave birth to her son. With her full schedule, she recognized that her grades would not meet the requirements for clerkships. But because of her superb writing sample, she was able to receive a prestigious clerkship for former Justice William Cousins of the Illinois Appellate Court and then later for Justice Charles Freeman of the Illinois Supreme Court. The social skills she gained at McAuley were very influential in her life. As one of the few Black students in her classes, she shared, “It helped me learn that we all have different skill levels, different intelligence levels. No race is smarter than another. You belong there just like anybody else in that classroom. There are people in class that are smarter than you and some (people) you are smarter than. Everybody has their challenges.” Prior to law school, Pam lived in Japan and worked as a conversational English teacher, a kindergarten teacher at her alma mater Saint Helena of the Cross, and a Mental Health Specialist for adolescents and teens in Englewood.

Each past experience in Pam’s life and the support of her family have played pivotal roles in who she is today. Working as a teacher in Japan and Chicago gave her a love for teaching and led her to be an adjunct professor at University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. Her work as a Mental Health Specialist sparked her interest in the interplay between mental health and the court system, and thus beginning her career in law and as a mental health advocate in her everyday life. Pam is currently a Principal Attorney for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. She practices in the District’s User Charge and Enforcement Division, she spent five years in the Real Estate, Environ-mental, and Employment Divisions. Prior to her practice with the District, she spent 14 years as a contract, litigation, and housing policy attorney for the Chicago Housing Authority. Pam is also the Second Vice-President of the NAACP-Chicago South Side Branch and has been a member of the Cook County Bar, Black Women Lawyers Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Asian American Bar, and The Decalogue Society of Lawyers.

Watch part of Pam’s interview with Michelle-Marie Nimo ‘23

Paige Travis '10

“When you say lifetime advantage, it really resonates with me.” Paige Travis, class of 2010, is a prime example of the lifetime advantage gained at McAuley in action. Paige served as the Student Council President and guided McAuley with her leadership and spirit. During her senior year, she was awarded the Catherine McAuley Award because of her dedication and service to McAuley and the community. This award is the highest honor for McAuley students, faculty, and staff because the awardees embody the life and legacy of our foundress, Catherine McAuley.

After graduating from McAuley, she went on to study Journalism at the University of Missouri. Paige shared, “I (currently) work in communications and politics, and I just fell in love with writing and communications while in English classes at McAuley…McAuley had a lot to do with my career field, and I didn’t realize it until after graduating college.” Immediately after college, Paige started her career working for NBC News. She has since helped launch and manage media outreach for the Obama administration’s rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the grand opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and 51 for 51 DC Statehood Coalition. During the 2020 presidential election, Paige served as an Ad Writer for the Biden-Harris campaign. She has also served as Senior Communications Manager during the 2018 midterm elections with Color of Change PAC. Paige resides in New York City and works as a political campaign strategist and publicist.

Watch part of Paige’s interview with Treazure Edwards ‘23

Kayla Caffey '16

Kayla Caffey ‘16 made her mark at Mother McAuley as one of the best middle hitters and blockers the volleyball program has ever seen. She started on varsity as a sophomore and off the bat, played a pivotal role averaging kills 2.5 per set. In her first season on varsity, the Mighty Macs won the 2013 IHSA State Championship against Benet Academy, where Kayla con-tributed 8 kills. In 2015, her senior season, she won the Daily Southtown Player of the Year and averaged 3.5 kills per set. In her three seasons, she had an impressive 632 career kills and 200 career blocks. In a past interview with Tony Baranek from the Chicago Tribune, Coach Jen DeJarld said, “Kayla was, in my opinion, the top middle blocker in the state. I didn’t see anyone else who rivaled her power and dominance of the game.”

After graduating from Mother McAuley, she went on to play NCAA Division 1 Women’s Volleyball at the University of Missouri (Mizzou). She made the SEC All Freshman Team in 2017 and was on the Dean’s List for three semesters. She graduated from Mizzou with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. For her graduate season, she went on to continue her volleyball career at the University of Nebraska. This past season, Kayla and the #10 Huskers had an exciting showing at the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Tournament, with wins over #2 Texas and #3 Pittsburgh. They made it to the prestigious championship game, and won runner up against #4 Wisconsin. Kayla won a number of accolades including AVCA All-America Second Team (2021), AVCA North All-Region (2021), Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 6, 2021), Big Ten Sportsmanship Award (2021), Academic All-Big Ten (2021), and Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Fall 2020; Spring 2021). She graduated with her M.A in Teacher Learning & Teacher Education with a certificate in Early Literacy this past December. She is currently working on her second Masters Degree in Higher Education and Educational Administration. Kayla is continuing her academic and athletic journey at the University of Texas for her final season.

Watch part of Kayla’s interview with Peyton Brokemond ‘22

Maya Nunn '16

Maya Nunn graduated from Mother McAuley in 2016. At McAuley, she was a member of National Honors Society, National English Honors Society, Spanish Honors Society, and cheered for St. Rita High School. She was also a member of the first Upperclasswomen Advisory Board at Mother McAuley under the direction of Meg Gardner, Vice Principal of Student Culture. Since her days at McAuley, Maya has always stood out as a leader with her ability to think critically and communicate effectively. Those qualities and attributes have followed her throughout college and her professional career.

After her graduation at McAuley, Maya studied at the University of Missouri, where she earned her Bachelor’s in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. At Mizzou, she was involved in the National Association of Black Journalists and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., where she served as her chapter’s President. After graduation, she received her Master’s in Sports and Entertainment Promotion from the University of Houston, and currently works as an Account Executive for a public relations firm,  while working as a part time freelancer.

In the summer of 2020, Mother McAuley had the unique opportunity to have ongoing discussions about the challenges our students of color face not only in our world, but as a student. Through the leadership and vision of Maya and her former classmate and friend Cydney Walls ‘16, Mother McAuley established the Young Alumnae Diversity Council (YADC). The council is made up of 12 members who represent various races or ethnicities. These young women continue to work towards goals to advance diversity, equity, and belonging within the academic curriculum, student life, and extracurricular programs. In strong collaboration with the YADC, the administration of Mother McAuley was able to facilitate discussions, resulting in action steps for the school years to follow. Maya has been an instrumental leader in the YADC at Mother McAuley, and we are so grateful for her guidance, action, and support in our DEB efforts.

Watch part of Maya’s interview with Julissa Rojas ‘22

Mother McAuley’s Black Student Union

The Black Student Union’s primary objective is to empower and support our Black students. Our goal is to be a safe space to educate and inspire others about our race and culture. The Black Student Union supports the mission of Mother McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy because we will be one band, one sound as we unite in solidarity with all of our peers toward tackling the issue of racism, one of our Mercy Critical Concerns. One of the most important hallmarks of our club is inclusion - we want ALL students to join to promote positive racial relations and to enhance cultural awareness. By joining the BSU, you will form strong relationships with diverse peers, learn more about the Black race and culture, and work to empower our students and communities of color.   

Hon. Gloria G. Coco, Ret. ‘68

Hon. Gloria G. Coco, Ret. ‘68 will be appointed as the First Woman President of the Justinian Society of Lawyers at the Annual Installation and Awards Dinner on Thursday, September 22, 2022. Gloria is also the recipient of the Justinian Award of Excellence!

  • 1960s
  • 1968
Constance Bastian Lawlor ‘73

After 44+ years in the financial institution industry, working for International, National, and Regional Banks in Accounting and Finance, Constance Bastian Lawlor ‘73 retired in January 2022. Connie reflected on her time, “It was a great career and I have no regrets. Thank you Mother McAuley for such a solid foundation.”

  • 1970s
  • 1973
Margaret Mann '75

Margaret Mann ‘75,  U.S. Bankruptcy Judge in San Diego, has been appointed as the Bankruptcy Judge Observer to the United States Judicial Conference.

  • 1970s
  • 1975
Dr. Susan Rowan ‘76

Dr. Susan Rowan ‘76, DDS, MS, FACD, FICD, was named as the Interim Dean of the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry. 

  • 1970s
  • 1976
Mariyana Spyropoulos ‘82

UIC School of Law honors MWRD Commissioner Mariyana Spyropoulos ‘82 with Alumni Public Service Award based on her ability to exemplify the mission and ideals of her alma mater.

  • 1980s
  • 1982
Nancy O’Brien Kane ‘84

On June 1st, Nancy O’Brien Kane ‘84 was inducted into the Illinois Water Polo Hall of Fame and will be honored at the All-State and Hall of Fame Banquet! During her time at Mother McAuley, Nancy, with the help of her mother and former coach Scott White, started McAuley’s swimming and water polo programs. She competed in both swimming and waterpolo from 1981-1984 and she won the state water polo championship before water polo became an official IHSA sport.

Coaching water polo came as a natural progression. She returned back to Mother McAuley as a coach from 2000-2003 and again from 2019-2021. In 2001, she coached her team to the finish as Runners-up in the IHSA State Championship. Then, she led her team to win two consecutive state championships in 2002 and 2003, and was named Coach of the Year in both years. Nancy also refereed water polo for two years and was a member of the IHSA Advisory Board for water polo. To say Nancy is a McAuley legend is an under-statement! 

  • 1980s
  • 1984
Sofia Hernandez ‘95

Sofia Hernandez ‘95 was featured in the Forbes article “How TikTok’s Global Head of Business Marketing Is Weaving Inclusivity Into The Platform.”

  • 1990s
  • 1995
Gina Riberto Kaktis ‘96

Gina Riberto Kaktis ‘96 has recently joined Central Contractors in Alsip as a sales representative. Gina has 7 years of experience in the construction industry.

  • 1990s
  • 1996
Katie Schumacher Cawley ‘97

Congratulations to Katie Schumacher Cawley ‘97 on being named the next head coach of the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team!

On January 10, 2022, Katie Schumacher Cawley ‘97 was named as the third ever Head Coach in Penn State History. Katie previously held the  position as Assistant Coach under the leadership of Russ Rose.

Katie was a student-athlete at Mother McAuley from 1993-97. She was a star player on both the basketball and volley-ball teams. During her time as a Mighty Mac, Katie was regarded as one of the top two-sport athletes in the country. In four basketball seasons, her teams went to state three times. In four volleyball seasons, her teams went to state all four times, and were state champions in Class AA in 1994 and National Champions in 1995.

After her immensely impressive high school athletic career, Schumacher attended Penn State to play volleyball and led the Nittany Lions to an NCAA title in 1999. Katie has a deep connection with the Penn State program as both an All-American and National Champion student-athlete and assistant coach. Schumacher was inducted into the Girls Catholic Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2003 and the prestigious Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

In 2014 Schumacher was inducted into our McAuley Hall and in 2019 she returned to address the Class of 2019 at their Commencement Ceremony.

MacNation is MIGHTY proud to have Katie as a role model. We cannot wait to watch what lies ahead for the Penn State Team under her guidance! 

  • 1990s
  • 1997
Nancy Bell Dorsey ‘97

Nancy Bell Dorsey ‘97 was inducted into the Kansas Volleyball Association Hall of Fame. In her 16 years of coaching, she has 9 state titles, 6 runner ups, 2 All American team honors, Coach of the Year, and #1 ranked team in the Nation.

  • 1990s
  • 1997
Amelia Gamboa Garcia ‘00

Congratulations, Amelia Gamboa Garcia ‘00, on receiving the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Amelia was one of 10 teacher recipients in Illinois, and the only teacher from a Catholic high school.

  • 2000
  • 2000s
Mary Eileen Marren ‘00

Mary Eileen Marren ‘00 is a paraprofessional at Kolmar Avenue Elementary!

  • 2000
  • 2000s
Marvet Sweis ‘00

Attorney Marvet Sweis ‘00 received the DSF Award on December 1, 2021. Marvet Sweis was presented with the prestigious 2021 Advocate for Diversity Award at the 19th Annual Unity Gala & Awards Ceremony. 

  • 2000
  • 2000s
Eileen Earley Ziesemer ‘01

Eileen Earley Ziesemer ‘01, Vice President of Public Relations at Ulta  Beauty, was included in the PRWeek’s Women to Watch Class of 2022. Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment!

  • 2000s
  • 2001
Maggie Wood Bax ‘07

Maggie Wood Bax ‘07 and her friend Maddie Raspe were featured on NBC for their story, “Rainbow babies bring joy after loss”!

Watch her inspiring interview

  • 2000s
  • 2007
Vicki Simmons ‘08

Vicki Simmons ‘08 completed her residency in general surgery and graduated in June 2022! She completed 5 years of training at Ascension St. John in Detroit, MI. At graduation she was honored with the Anthony B. Chambers Award, which is presented to the chief surgical resident for the best performance during their residency, as voted by the faculty. Next she will pursue further training in vascular surgery at Michigan Vascular Center in Flint, MI. 

  • 2000s
  • 2008
Shannon Zofkie ‘13

Shannon Zofkie ‘13 is currently working as a therapist in Oak Brook. She just retired as an Irish dancer after 23 years of dancing. She is halfway through with her TCRG (Irish Dance Teaching credentials), and is also using her two Masters Degrees to help athletes to build mental skills that will help them be more successful. 

  • 2010s
  • 2013
Erica Wieczorek ‘14

Erica Wieczorek ‘14 joins The Toy Foundation as a Development Associate, where she provides administrative, development, and  marketing / communications support to the foundation management team. Erica is also responsible for assisting with development and fundraising initiatives, program coordination, toy donation / solicitations, vendor and event management, and Foundation data collection, management, and review. 

  • 2010s
  • 2014
Jesalyn Bull ‘15

Jesalyn Bull ‘15 is a Registered Nurse at Advocate Children’s Hospital. 

  • 2010s
  • 2015
Chanell Newsome ‘15

Chanell Newsome ‘15 is a Senior On-Air Coordinator at Fox Broadcasting Company. “From Chicago to Arizona! I branched into my career after graduate school doing what I love! Working in television this past year has been a great experience at Fox and working with some of the cool shows that you all may love. Masked Singer, 9-1-1, 9-1-1 Lonestar, Name That Tune, Don’t Forget The Lyrics, Fantasy Island, etc. With that being said; to my fellow McAuley girls, never give up on your dreams and have fun doing what you love!” 

  • 2010s
  • 2015
Molly Moran ‘16

Molly Moran ‘16, Customer Engagement Specialist at Motorola Solutions, was awarded the North America Inside Sales Achievement Award. Molly was the Quarter 1 2022 MVP! 

  • 2010s
  • 2016
Faith Carey ‘18

Faith Carey ‘18 received the Student Activities and Service Award from Marquette University. This award was selected by senior students and is given to a senior who has shown enthusiasm for nursing, who has worked diligently for the success of student activities and service projects, and who has been enrolled as a full-time student in the pre-licensure program at the College of Nursing. 

  • 2010s
  • 2018
Lauren Plesha ‘18

Lauren Plesha ‘18 made the Dean’s List at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN! Lauren just celebrated her graduation.

  • 2010s
  • 2018
Abbey Murphy ‘20

Mother McAuley’s First Olympian, Abbey Murphy ‘20, made her mark at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as a forward on the US Women’s Ice Hockey Team. After a terrific Olympic run, Abbey and TEAM USA brought home a silver medal!

Abbey’s fierce competitive nature has impressed the McAuley community for years, and now the world! In the preliminary game against Canada, former Olympian and commentator, Angela Ruggiero said, “It’s the little things that set the tone for Team USA and make a difference in the game… Abbey Murphy is definitely the spark plug for USA Hockey at the young age of 19”. We think so too! Abbey’s former Dean, Meg Gardner said, “Abbey’s ability to always be at her best in the toughest of moments and on the biggest stages is what makes her such a special player.” 

Theresa LeCompte, Abbey’s sophomore and senior Theology teacher, shared, “It is challenging to think of a word that would describe Abbey. Thinking of her brings a smile to my face and heart. She is one of the most enthusiastic young people I have ever met. Her radiant and somewhat mischievous smile mirrors her tenacious spirit and infectious personality.”

At only 19 years old, Abbey has left quite the impression. Watching Abbey take on the Olympics has been a unifying experience for the entire McAuley community. The pride of seeing a Mighty Mac representing the United States is unlike any other! Abbey is Mother McAuley’s first Olympian and current faculty and staff, students and alumnae rallied together to cheer her on in all sorts of ways. Teachers celebrated Abbey by decorating her old desk and chairs in their rooms, students posed with Abbey’s cardboard cutout  and decorated the school, and watch parties popped up all over the neighborhood. We are so proud of everything Abbey has  accomplished in her collegiate and Olympic career thus far and we are looking forward to seeing her shine in the years to come! 

  • 2020
  • 2020s