When you think about your time at Sacred Heart and the time that has passed since you graduated in 1960, what are some of the memories that come to mind as you look back?
Being back here today has been phenomenal, not having seen the campus in many years. It does not look as it did back then! I think the new is where it should be in keeping with the times, and the Motherhouse chapel is very much the same as I remember. We had May Day processions there, I remember the garden and the very special memories that were made here! I did go to the Model School too, so it’s interesting to see it again!
Do you recall teachers or administrators from your time here that were influential?
Our gym teacher, Ms. Catherine Caswell, was one that I remember so well – she was down to earth, and when she coached, she really got you to believe in yourself. Our Spanish teacher, Sister George was also down to earth, worldly and she was able to bring the culture to life in her classroom so that we really had a deeper understanding than just the language itself.
An important thing I would like to mention is that even though I enjoyed my time at Sacred Heart, I did struggle too and that’s a key lesson for young women to keep in mind. You CAN still be successful even if you have challenges during your young life. It’s part of evolving and growing! It isn’t all about your classroom education, it’s about finding your talent whether in the classroom or outside of it and finding those that can nurture that growth.
What advice might you give to our alumnae and current students about developing leadership characteristics?
Take leadership seminars! I went through the Dale Carnegie Training program and it changed my life. It gave me a tremendous amount of confidence in myself. If gave me the tips on how to meet people, how to create a conversation, how to interact and create connections with people.
How have you stayed connected with your SHA classmates since you have lived away for such a long time?
Mostly through our reunions and especially since our 50th (Maribeth will celebrate her 60th in 2020!). Even though we may not talk all of the time, those women are still dear within my heart and in my prayers, and I think of them all often.
As the founder and leader of BAG MAKERS, Inc., I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the responsibilities of being a female entrepreneur…
It was very hard back then to start a company, in 1980. I had the idea for the business, but I needed the press (which was very expensive) and I had no funding. I went to banks, and none would lend me money except for one in a small town in Union, Illinois. My Dad also helped me by giving me a small loan that, in conjunction with the bank loan, enabled me to put the down payment on the press. To get anyone to believe in a women starting a business of this kind 40 years ago was a big deal!
We now have 400 people in our Illinois operation, and my son Paul oversees a Chinese manufacturing facility that also employs 400 people.
When you consider what you have built with BAG MAKERS, Inc., what do you cherish the most?
The BAG MAKERS family. They are as much a part of my family as my biological family. I have a very strong personal bond with them that makes them family; I care about them, their children and grandchildren, and together, we celebrate the milestones in one another’s lives.
Both my son and daughter work for the business; my son oversees our operations in China and my daughter does a variety of things for the company, even though she presently lives in Colorado with her family.
At Sacred Heart Schools, our core values are Community, Leadership, Service and Reverence. Is there a particular value that speaks to you most?
Reverence. I am so blessed with what I have, and I have had many hard times but the teaching there is that through prayer, you can get through it. You have your bad days and your good days, but having that faith in God is the key to it all.