How did your Sacred Heart Academy education prepare you for college & beyond?
Sacred Heart helped me to be very well-prepared for the challenges of college, and attending the J.B. Speed School of Engineering. SHA helped me develop the confidence needed to go into a male-dominated field of study (along with at least 3 others from the class of 1987!) and feel self-assured in my abilities. The Speed School is still a male-dominated program, but the numbers have continued to grow in terms of female students – from about 16% when I was on-campus, to nearly 22% today.
I like to remind the students when I come back for Career Day at SHA, to really consider a degree in math or science, as these fields are so valuable and translatable to a variety of careers – medicine, engineering, architecture, etc. Sacred Heart gives its students a great foundation in math & science!
Is there a teacher at Sacred Heart who influenced you the most?
Yes! Sister Lorna Weiler. She inspired me to move in the direction that I did. I give Sister Lorna all the credit for helping me make that decision, and I ended up being the first college student/graduate in my family.
What is one thing from your time at SHA that you still carry with you today?
A key experience that was monumental for my personal growth was my Senior Retreat. It allowed me the opportunity to learn about myself, as well as other classmates I’d not known as well during my time at SHA.
How do you stay connected to your Valkyrie classmates and Sacred Heart Academy, in general?
Part of the beauty of a Catholic school education is the tradition that comes along with it. I think that is something that is priceless in life. It provides young women with that a grounded sense of who they are, and SHA helps them establish roots at a time when they are in a discovery phase of life; growing up, figuring out who they are going to be, experimenting and questioning many things. I feel that I have always had SHA girls around me, as do many of us; whether we leave Louisville permanently, stay here, or go elsewhere and return, you always have that common ground with your Sacred Heart Academy classmates. You can always come back to one another.
Fill in the blank: “If it were not for SHA, I…”
I would not be where I am today. It may seem like a boring answer, but when I really stop and think about it, it provided the structure, the grounding and the focus, so that I didn’t get lost. One way I’d tell the story is that if you’ve never lived in a small town, what you learn is that it is easy to be a big fish in a small pond. But, because of being a big fish in a small pond, you can have a greater impact. I think the size of SHA allows young women to explore the possibilities of what you can be, and build up that confidence. I have worked throughout the years with women of all walks of life and personal situations and what I often find in those that are struggling, is that they absolutely do not have the self-esteem and confidence that so many young women are blessed to develop during their time at Sacred Heart. I see them working so hard to pull themselves out of a difficult situation because they haven’t been blessed with the same opportunity to develop their self-esteem. Of course, all of us will experience barriers or have setbacks in life, but rather than quitting you say “Ok, I have to find a different way”. If not for Sacred Heart, I would not know how to surmount some of those challenges and barriers in life. SHA provided a safe environment to try and fail, and with your teachers and classmates, you tried again and picked yourself back up. That’s how you build up that confidence…failing, and trying a new path!
How do you live out the Sacred Heart Schools core values of Community, Leadership, Reverence and Service?
I have a philosophical take on this. I receive my interactions with other humans based on the premise that we are all wired to need three things: a safe environment in which to develop self-esteem and confidence, respect (reverence) and connection (faith). Connection can come in many ways, including faith and leadership. The idea is that as you have success, you bring someone else along with to share that success or show them the way. They’ll have to achieve success within themselves, but so many people in our community don’t have the resources to grow so I ask myself, “As a leader, what can I do to help others make connections and have learning opportunities so that they can be successful and self-reliant themselves?” This overall, is my belief in how we create a better community. Providing people with safe places, respect (give it AND earn it from others), and creating connections for other people.
Service is another way of living out the core values, and I am reminded of the Habitat for Humanity project with the Ursuline Sisters, and Sister Judith Rice, to raise money to fund and build a home in Smoketown, as the Ursulines celebrated 150 years in Louisville. This was a great example of bringing people together toward a common goal that seemed insurmountable at the time, but was achieved!
What does the word leadership mean to you?Leadership to me, embodies the ability to inspire people to be better than they imagine they can be, and to achieve more than they ever imagined possible. And, it’s important that leaders not talk about it, but show others how it can be done. We need to develop more leaders in this world, and often that means making tough decisions in life. We frequently get wrapped up in trying to please everyone and we don’t always provide the leadership necessary to get things done and i