Josie Beres

Catholic Memorial High School, Class of 2018

Working toward master’s degree

My exposure to engineering at CMH uncovered a passion for me. I liked math, science and problem solving, and heard about the Project Lead the Way program and thought it would be a good fit. I loved it from the first engineering class freshman year and completed the full program. With the PLTW, IB and AP classes I took at CMH, it set me up for success and direct admission into the college of Engineering. I am pursuing a master’s degree in industrial engineering.

My foundation in faith and involvement in campus ministry at CMH continued at the University of Wisconsin as I was active at St. Paul Catholic Student Center. I led many retreats and even went on a mission trip this past January to Corpus Christi, Texas.

Faith is a huge part of my life and during this mission trip it was so surprising how open people were to talk with us about our faith and pray together. That experience really pushed me outside of my comfort zone, but seeing the sense of community we built was inspiring. My experience at St. Paul’s was a light for me during college that grounded and supported me.

My active involvement at CMH in clubs and extracurriculars were a foundation and guide to my leadership roles in college. I am so grateful for the general education classes and college level courses from high school that prepared me, as well as the exposure to engineering that uncovered my passion. If it wasn’t for COVID and my interest in studying abroad, I could have graduated in three years.

Eric Blaufuss

St. Thomas More High School, Class of 2004

Fifth grade teacher, St. Eugene School

My Catholic high school education inspired me to continue my lifelong journey through Catholic schools. After St. Thomas More, I went to Marquette University, then grad school through Mount Mary and Alverno. I’ve now taught in Catholic elementary schools for more than 10 years (St. Anthony and St. Eugene). I also worked at St. Thomas More in recruitment for a year and a half.

The thing that hooks me about Catholic education is the connection between faith and community. During class, we learn facts while gaining skills. Schools give us opportunities to use the knowledge and skills to impact our communities positively. Concerts, sporting events and service opportunities are the main examples that come to mind. Those opportunities are incredibly essential so that kids learn to positively engage their communities. We need to avoid the contradiction of learning Jesus’ teachings and then treating each other disrespectfully or like enemies.

Karisa Bogdan

St. Joan Antida High School, Class of 1988

Learning specialist, Children’s Wisconsin

My experience at St. Joan Antida High School has helped shape the person I have become and the work that I do.

I have been a learning specialist at Children’s Wisconsin for more than 6 years. I work with leaders and subject matter experts throughout our organization to develop training for our employees. The work they do is incredibly important to a child’s well-being, and I love that I can support them with my skill and expertise in learning and development. A good number of the jobs I have held over the years have been for non-profit organizations.

As students at SJA, we were taught about the value of service to others. This is where I first realized the importance of helping people with whatever gifts I have, not just as a job, but also through volunteerism. I have been a volunteer for a number of organizations and events.

I was also taught about valuing people from various cultures and backgrounds at St. Joan Antida High School. If I had gone to a public school close to home, I believe my experience with people who were not like me would have been limited. Even if it had not been, I think I would not have been taught this important lesson by the staff at another school.

Dr. Allison (Smith) DeLorme

Catholic Central High School, Class of 2007

Doctor of dental surgery

I appreciate the value of my education at Catholic Central now more than ever, as I look to the future for my young children. Catholic Central continues to grow and make improvements while maintaining the faith-centered, family community that generations of graduates have experienced. I am grateful for the role Catholic Central has played in my life, and I am excited for the school’s bright future.

Karlodia Martita Finnie

St. Joan Antida High School, Class of 1988

St. Joan Antida High School showed me how to spread love and happiness, and how to care for people, no matter what ethnic background that they came from, and how to overcome things in your life by being positive and to put God first.

Aidan Hager

St. Lawrence Seminary, Class of 2021

Sophomore at Lakeland University

Throughout my career at St. Lawrence Seminary, leadership and service have been common themes that have stuck both in my time on the hill and beyond graduation. My favorite memory of leadership involves the mentorship of freshmen by the seniors. As one of their last responsibilities as students at St. Lawrence, each senior is charged with the responsibility of taking a freshman under his wing and guiding him through his first year of high school. This becomes especially important as St. Lawrence has the unique trait of being a full-time boarding school, where most freshmen face the challenge of being away from home for the first time. During my time at St. Lawrence, I learned the importance of independence and perseverance. Not everything in life is handed to you, and I learned that as we gained more responsibilities in leadership of the school. Perseverance has been important as I have grown in my faith both inside and outside of high school, as it is important to align your career goals with your vocation, whether you think you know it or are still discerning. St. Lawrence taught me the importance of a balance between your faith and the rest of your life through their strong emphasis on raising men of God. Although COVID-19 had a strong impact on our abilities on campus, St. Lawrence did a great job keeping their operations as close to the same as possible while following guidelines. This helped my classmates and I as we transitioned from high school students to Catholic men.

Deborah Haywood

St. Joan Antida, Class of 1988

Client services

I was able to celebrate my faith in a multicultural setting, which was very important to me. I learned by the examples of our teachers, especially, that we all are the hands and feet of Christ. I learned that I mattered and that my faith mattered, and that there were so many ways to worship the same God. We were taught values and morals that I have instilled in my children as a mother. These lessons I also bring to work every day help me to contribute not only as an employee, but as a member of a vast Christian body.

Kelly A. Martyka

St. Joan Antida High School, Class of 2004

Associate director of gift planning, Greater Milwaukee Foundation; attorney; judge

Attending St. Joan Antida High School prepared me for my work and the world in ways that I couldn’t totally recognize until now. It prepared me to be understanding and empathetic to all kinds of people, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status. It also prepared me to be more culturally competent and comfortable in learning and growing, evolving and changing.

I also wouldn’t be doing the work I am, or have had success in my career, without the support and love that I still get from SJA. It means so much that teachers, alumnae, students, administration, and staff bring me a lot of joy, guidance and love all the time.

Beatrice Meganck

Chesterton Academy, Class of 2022

Freshman at Ave Maria University

At Chesterton Academy, I was given the chance to learn to live joyfully. Academics were purposefully challenging yet not impossible, and the teachers’ love was profound. I was blessed with a high school experience where not only would I be taught the truth, but I was in such an environment where I could ask questions and come to an understanding that went beyond the classroom. One class stands out in which we learned about fidelity and the Blessed Sacrament as the true aspiration of our hearts from a letter J. R. R. Tolkien wrote to his son. I was also encouraged to grow spiritually through access to the sacraments and priests who care so deeply for us. I am incredibly grateful for the cultivation of the practices of daily Mass and Adoration in high school, which now keep me grounded throughout the new challenges of life. Friendships flourished there like a garden under expert care, for indeed, the Lord was tending to us. Aristotle claims a good man needs friends in order to live an excellent life, and I believe the friends I made in high school are indeed the “sturdy shelter” Sirach speaks of. I learned what it means to “be a human being” and how “to be good friends with Jesus with the greatest enthusiasm.”

Dcn. Anton Nickolai

Catholic Central High School, Class of 2002

Attorney; Parish director

As a high school student, I was unaware of the blessing and impact my time at Catholic Central High School would have on my life and my vocations. The education I received permeated through every area of my life to help form me into a well-rounded adult. The faculty and staff at CCHS laid the groundwork for a life that incorporated prayer, faith in action and the Sacraments into my secular profession. An education rooted in faith helps to develop more than just a student’s mind. It enriches the mind, body and soul. This foundation in my faith fostered my discernment in my vocations as a husband, an attorney, a father and a permanent deacon. CCHS helped instill a deep love for the Church, and a desire to serve my Church and my community. I bring my time at CCHS into my homilies and ministry as a deacon. My wife, Suzanne (Class of 2002), and I both felt strongly about the importance of a Catholic education and have continued the tradition by sending our six children to Catholic schools.

J. R. Petnkeu

Dominican High School, Class of 2013

Ford Motor Company

My parents always taught me strong values would carry me through both the good and the challenging times in life. That is why they chose to send me to Dominican. At the school, we learned that service, commitment, respect and emotional intelligence would be necessary to excel in all aspects of our future lives. These values would be necessary at home, at work and in our communities.

We lived out these values through our Kairos retreat, on the soccer field, in the classroom and through our annual Knight Walk fundraiser.

These values have led me to meet the love of my life and they have given me the strength to move hundreds of miles away from home in pursuit of my own dreams.

Daniel Schreiber

Chesterton Academy, Class of 2018

Drama and dance teacher, and academic aid, Chesterton Academy

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that every child is asked from a young age. It is a question that fills a child’s imagination with dreams of heroic deeds as a fireman or dangerous missions as a spy. With age, however, these questions slowly evolve into more practical thoughts. At Chesterton however, they change the question. They ask “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” By changing the what to a who, they are asking, “What sort of person do you want to be?” To do this, they spend four years teaching you how to think and how to understand not only how some people think and act but how people from every walk of life think and act from the ancient world to the present. They push their students to try new things and step out of their comfort zones through the arts, giving their students a better understanding of human nature as a whole, which in turn gives students a better understanding of themselves. Teachers went out of their way to help me and give me guidance in how to choose a school that would push me further on the road to the man I want to become. In my time at Chesterton, the teachers gave me a model by the way they themselves both lived and taught, which changed the course of my life and led me back to teach at the same school beginning this fall. That person who Chesterton strives to produce is one strong physically, morally and intellectually so that they might best serve God and live a happy life. That is why I have come back to teach at Chesterton: to help young men and women become saints.

Jessica (Wolff) Sippel

Catholic Central High School, Class of 2005

Family law attorney

I feel very grateful to the CCHS community and the lifelong friendships I made while there. CCHS provided a priceless learning environment for me. Most importantly, CCHS provided a strong base in academics and furthered my commitment to faith, service, excellence and education.

Dr. Addison Stone

Catholic Central High School, Class of 1993

Orthopedic spine surgeon

Catholic Central is an exceptional school that prepares students well for the road ahead. The small class size provides ample opportunities in academics, leadership and athletics. I am grateful for the support I received and the values instilled, which have proven invaluable for my career in medicine.

Daniela Vaca

St. Joan Antida High School, Class of 2020

Development database and administrative coordinator

Going to a Catholic high school has allowed me to find my passion. Knowing that I have power to make a change that can help a community has encouraged me to work at a nonprofit once I graduate from Marquette University.

I was a shy freshman student, but I knew that I needed to put myself out there and gain confidence. I started volunteering with admissions, and soon after, gained a role in helping development with student needs. St. Joan Antida High School heard what I had to say and did the impossible to make things happen.

St. Joan Antida High School encouraged me to use my voice and tell my story to encourage other students and staff. They told me that my story of being a first-generation student was one that needed to be told because my story was worthy, my story was important. I hope to be able to help other students find their passion and confidence.

Patrick Waddell

Chesterton Academy, Class of 2022

Freshman at Franciscan University in Steubenville

Chesterton Academy is one of the few schools that requires daily Mass — a thing that, when I first came to Chesterton, I think I would rather not have had required. However, I came to realize that sometimes, fallen creatures as we are, one’s faith must be fostered through requirements. As I’ve begun college, this knowledge and the faith that Chesterton taught and fostered has been invaluable to me as I navigate this new environment while staying close to Christ.

Some of my fond memories of Chesterton include playing football during lunches with our headmaster, the daily grind of homework and classes, but mostly the joking around and joy that was shared between my incredible classmates and the faculty and staff.

There is so much I learned during my time in high school at Chesterton Academy, but the three things that are definitely staying with me come from our headmaster’s commencement speech. He told us to first, be faithful, for our true freedom lies in fidelity to our “yes.” Second, he told us to be resigned to Christ totally, for Christ has already resigned himself to us in the Eucharist. And finally, he said to be grateful, for gratitude is the medicine which heals despair, which all too much exists in our modern age. Be faithful, be resigned, be grateful. I know this advice will sustain me as I continue my journey through college and beyond.

Dana Williamson

St. Joan Antida High School, Class of 1989

Business and lifestyle counselor, speaker and author; ministry leader

I continue to tell people my first introduction to Jesus, that I can remember, happened in Catholic elementary school. My transition from the shy girl in elementary to the vibrant, outspoken entrepreneurial woman happened at St. Joan Antida High School.

It was the fall of 1985 when I walked through the doors of St. Joan Antida looking for familiar faces. I didn’t want to be at an all-girl school; how would I develop an acceptance of being around boys at an all-girl school? I was a confused 14-year-old. It was hard for me because I was always that picked-on young girl. I wanted to attend the public high school my family attended. That was a no-go with my mom, yet little did I know, this first year at SJA would catapult me into greater things.

Throughout my years at SJA, I had many ups and downs in my education, as most students do. I made friends, lost friends, shared in family losses with close friends and more. Yet, the most monumental for me was when I found my voice and started to grow into the woman I am today. My relationship with God, right now, is due, in part, to my experiences as a teenager in the 80s.

As a writer, speaker and coach, I help women of faith get past the fork in the road of their lives to excel and build their businesses. I never leave God out.

I attribute all of who I am from my experiences in Catholic school. I wouldn’t change my life for anything or anyone in the world.