New Radio Show Discusses Social Justice and Equity

Joliet, Ill. – As Joliet’s university, the University of St. Francis (USF) has a rich tradition of being dedicated to the facilitation of healing. The new Pause for Justice Radio Show, which airs every Wednesday on WCSF 88.7 FM and streams worldwide on, discusses social justice and equity through powerful conversations to promote healing.

While the show is still in its infancy, Allison Heard, the show’s host and USF Director of Institutional Diversity and Title IX Coordinator, already has several impressive guests lined up to appear throughout the coming months. Guests include: Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce’s new DEI Council chairs Mike Clark and Kristen Hamilton and Joliet Chamber president Jen Howard; Dr. Vishakha Desai, Senior Advisor for Global Affairs and Senior Research Scholar in Global Studies, Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; David Masciotra, USF adjunct faculty member and author of “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters”; global non-profit One Collective; and the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate Anti-Racism Committee. The show, which is produced by WCSF station manager Anthony Musiala and USF social work intern Jewel Andy, will also feature several USF faculty members and other administrators.

On Wednesday, June 16, 2021, Pause for Justice will feature Stedman Graham, American educator, author, businessman, and speaker. Graham will speak about his book, Identity Leadership. As noted in Graham’s book, “Identity Leadership is self-leadership, based on the philosophy that you cannot lead others until you first lead yourself.” The discussion will explore ways that leadership is cultivated and nurtured as society imagines a world based upon justice and equity.

Heard credits the Healing Illinois grant that USF received earlier this year for helping to support the show’s creation and content.

“The Healing Grant allowed us to work with Anthony Musiala to help us design the outline for the segments and to train Institutional Diversity staff on the best format to present information in a credible format to listeners. Credibility is important which is why we want to work on information that is research-based and accurate. All of our guest speakers have agreed to volunteer their time and knowledge for free and we are so appreciative to them for the information they are willing to share,” she said.

Although the show launched one month ago, Heard said the idea and spirit behind this work actually originated last summer.

“Pause for Justice at USF was developed in June 2020 during COVID-19 when we were working from home due to the pandemic. I remember watching the many images on TV, listening to the news, reading articles online and feeling like I was on information overload. There was something to be upset and angry about every minute of the day. I think it is okay to be upset and angry but what is unbearable is feeling like you ‘have no power’ to do anything about it,” Heard said.

Heard added that the death of George Floyd on May 25 was a call for conversation and change.

“When the news broke about George Floyd, I remember getting a few text messages and some were notes of encouragement. A few people asked how I was doing. The natural inclination is to tell people you are okay but during that time, I had watched a video that was sent to me and a person in that video cried and said they were not okay. That is exactly what I was feeling. We are often programmed and taught to say we are okay when we are not. Progress and Change can only be actualized when there is room to grow. There were many people who were not okay. People who wanted to pray but who also wanted to do something. Pause for Justice became the medium for gathering, praying, learning, and aligning actions with emotions of the heart. The Pause for Justice Radio series was born out of this history,” she said.

Heard acknowledged that conversations on social justice and equity can create feelings of vulnerability, but she added that they can also result in a desire to act.

“Being vulnerable is often regarded as something negative but it can be very positive when our spirit is moved to a desire to help those who are less fortunate than us. The hope is that if people know better, they will do better. So many mistakes of the past is due to the fact that people don’t know history, or they are not able to critically analyze all of the information the world throws at them. The goal is to match education and information with a person’s inner desire to have a positive impact on society and to facilitate equity and justice for vulnerable populations, she said.

For more information on the show, contact Heard by email at or by phone at 815-740-5025.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Donate Used Music and Memorabilia to WCSF-FM

Joliet, Ill. – WCSF-FM 88.7, the radio station of the University of St. Francis (USF), will host its annual Mega Music Rummage Sale this fall and is currently seeking community donations of used and collectible music and memorabilia. If you cannot bear to throw out your pre-loved media, donate it to WCSF.

Donations can include, but are not limited to: vinyl 33s, 45s and 78s; 8-tracks, reel to reel and cassettes; VHS tapes, and DVDs; sheet music, music books and comic books; professional and home audio equipment; and instruments.

USF students will organize and catalog your treasures for WCSF’s annual Mega Music Rummage Sale this fall. All donations are tax deductible and all proceeds from the Mega Music rummage sale will be used to support the educational mission of WCSF.

For more information or to arrange a donation drop-off or pick-up, please contact Elvia at 815-740-3697.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Free Pre-College Program for High School Students

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is offering a new, free Pre-College Program in July to high school students that not only helps students prepare for college, but that can also result in a scholarship to USF worth up to $4,000.

The USF Pre-College Program is an engaging, four-session summer experience that prepares high school students with the foundation for college success. The program, administered virtually, will assist students in getting a head start with the college application process and overcoming difficulties while applying to college. Upon program completion, students will be awarded a scholarship of up to $4,000 towards their USF education.

Scheduled program sessions, which take place from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., include:

  • “Finding the Right Fit” – Saturday, July 10;
  • “More than Luck—Application Process, Letters of Recommendation and Imposter Syndrome” – Saturday, July 17;
  • “Creating Your Path and Choosing Your Major” – Saturday, July 24 and;
  • “Creating Your Environment and Funding Your Future” – Saturday, July 31.

In order to be eligible for the program, the student must plan to graduate from high school and enter college in 2022 or 2023, and have an established MyUSF account after applying. The application deadline is July 7, and applications must be completed only by the prospective student (parents/guardians, agents, counselors, etc. may not complete applications on behalf of a student).

Registration for the program requires the following two-step process:

  1. Apply to USF by visiting and complete the online application. Students will need to provide transcripts from 9th grade to spring 2021 at the time of application.
  2. Enroll in the Pre-College Program by accepting admission into the program at the bottom of the invitation. Once students respond “yes” to the invitation, a follow-up email with next steps will be sent to them.

For more information or assistance with registering, please send an email to or call 800-735-7500.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Announces Spring 2021 Dean’s List

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) congratulates the following students who have been named to the Dean’s List for the spring 2021 semester. Students who have attained a grade point average of 3.5 or higher at the end of a semester in which they have taken at least twelve credit hours are named to the Dean’s List. Students residing in USF’s home state of Illinois are listed first below, followed by students from other U.S. states, followed by international students.

Algonquin: Madelyn Barrett

Aurora: Saba Aamir, Heather Reier and Lucy Stromsta

Bartlett: Diane Gumble and Anna Rychtarczyk

Beecher: Hannah Blankenberger, Kaylie Sippel and Emily Vlach

Berwyn: Veronica Navarrete and Pedro Ocampo

Bloomington: Molly Harej

Bolingbrook: Amanda Apanco, Carolina Huerta, Jorge Navas, Allison Neverouski, Lissette Puente, Ruben Reyes, Michelle Robert, Josue Tinoco, Ryan Webb and Katarina Welsh

Braceville: Kathryn Gutzman

Braidwood: Bobbi Herrera, Vanessa McLean, Nicholas Munafo and Thomas Sforza

Burbank: Fada Nassan and Fadia Nassan

Channahon: Dana Ackerson, Elizabeth Badalamenti, Jessica Hampton, Hannah Knight, Jordan Missig, MaKenzie Munson, Logan Stefanich and Makayla Sundine

Chatham: Carter St. Clair

Chicago: Cyril Aninyei, Bevin Carter, Linli Chen, Aileen Duran, Marc Gonzalez, Dana Jennings, Bryzhane Johnson, Carleen Jones, Terra Metz, Jose Munoz, Elizabeth Pacheco-McBride, Anthony Piegari, Daniela Robles, Leah Sims and Emilia Torres

Chicago Ridge: Jennifer Balsan

Cicero: Giselle Lopez

Coal City: Avery Hannig, Julie Sander and Abbey Spesia

Coal Valley: Eric Maffie

Country Club Hills: Briana Washington

Crest Hill: Alejandro Almazan, Danielle Oldenburg and Christopher Schager

Crestwood: Skyler Safi

Crete: Alyssa Vann

Crystal Lake: Matthew Becker

Custer Park: Peyton Garrelts and Brittany Housman

Darien: Mary O’Malley

Decatur: Erma Porter

Deer Park: Amanda Casey

Dekalb: Joshua Johnston

Dwight: Kelly Olha

Elgin: Jacquelyn Boydston and Holly Helsper

Elmhurst: Drita Dervishi

Elwood: Clarissa Del Rio, Rachel Hunter and David Paul

Frankfort: Kevin Block, Jarret Gmazel, Kelli Jordan, Claire Wills and Richard Zielinski

Gillespie: Ally Clay

Glen Carbon: Jalen Cooper

Glen Ellyn: Stephanie Woods

Greenville: Caleb Campbell

Hampshire: Kevin Kardas

Hanover Park: Jennifer Vazquez Saraul

Highland Park: Amanda Simale

Hillside: Michael Johnson

Hoffman Estates: Traci Morris

Homer Glen: Fatimah Abuhasna, Stephanie Behland, James Grill, Paige Kobylarczyk, Amanda Kouba, Lauren Pikulski and Madeleine Smietanski

Joliet: Madeline Adamic, Desiree Anderson, Jessica Arrollo, Matthew Attard, Andre Baez Martinez, Jonathan Berry, Breanna Blackmon, Martine Boetto, Ellie Butusov, Rosaisela Cabrera, Daisy Campos, Iliana Casillas, Kassandra Cazares, Cindy Chavez, Esmeralda Chavez, Christina Conne, Rachel Coop, Nicholas Diaz, Liam Eldridge, Robert Elkins, Cynthia Esquivel, Seyla Evans, Alondra Flores, Suzanne Fonck, Hunter Fuss, De’Whon Gavin, Robert Gilbert, Samantha Guzman, Sarah Hallow, Matthew Hamilton, Josel Hernandez, Nicholas Hjerpe, Jeanette Ibarra, Aireka Jackson, Stefan Jakovljevic, James Jaskowiak, Ryan Jones, Colin Kelly, Ryan King, Samantha Kohrt, Mark Kuzmicki, Vincent Lettiere, Andrew Lewis, Zhaobo Liu, Denisse Lizano, Alexander Lopez, Deyanira Magana, Alexus Maldonado, Shalanda Mallard, Mia Martinez, Hanah Mastandrea, William Mastin, Cheridan Matan, Mary Mathieu, Michael Mendoza, Sebastian Mireles, Hannah Mitchell, Laura Murguia-Iniguez, Alondra Ordaz, Daniel Orozco, Diana Ortega, Nayely Ortiz, Brittany Osborne, Michalyn Parker, Lizbeth Perez, Rodolfo Perez, Taylor Robinson, Suzanna Rocha, Angelina Rodriguez, Raul Rosendo, Franco Rota, Brayan Ruiz, Monica Saragossa, Carina Saucedo, Aron Servin, Victor Sotelo, Anne Starasinich, Janelle Marie Suriaga, Oscar Tellez, Erick Tenorio, Tyler Theobald, Ignacio Torres, Nayeli Torres, Elizabeth Tuck, Jazmine Vieyra, Paola Villafuerte, Haley Willner, Amanda Wisslead, Amanda Withall, Brooklyn Withey and Maoyun Xu

Justice: Kayla Sistos

Kankakee: Luke Whalen

Kewanee: Santos Contreras

Kinsman: Sara Cahill

Lemont: Lien Chu and Edyta Mikos

Lisle: Evan Heise

Lockport: Rylee Carpenter, Russell Egan, Eric Gasienica, William Gorski, John Hejl, Jacob Karli, Erica Long, Alexis Marroquin, Joshua Martinez, Hannah Pacheco, Elizabeth Ponce, Samantha Raspopovich, Nicole Troha, Stanislaw Walus, Rachel Webber, John Weis and Nolan Weis

Loda: Jennifer Nemeth

Lombard: Donovan Summers

Macomb: Carter Fayhee

Manhattan: Gabriella Briseno, Gregory Briseno, Sydney Butterfield, Codi Cabay, Carolyn Dudeck, Cameron Geigner, Christine Martinez, Miranda Roth, Hannah Schroeder, Mallory Stover and Tegan Young

Manteno: Josie Graffeo

Marengo: Jake LaSota

Marseilles: Eva Bruno, Mara Bruno, Victoria Pavnica and Hannah Schilling

Matteson: Lea Klucinski

Midlothian: Olivia Burbatt, Jessica Kwiatkowski, Canyon Novick, Allison Ramsey and Megan Ramsey

Minooka: Sabija Bobeski, Brandon Brodzinski, Jason Countryman, Julia Hill, Hailey Hoge, Seth Joder, Mariano Kotrba, Martina Kotrba, Ana Lopez, Kiersten Morse, Jacqueline VanDolson, Carl Vitale and Vanessa Withall

Mokena: Amanda Bednarczyk, Katie Blogg, Emma DiFiore, Bridget Jeffries, Christopher Kelley, John Raspante and Kiana Sikich

Monee: Querida De Frias, Ramzi Ramadan and Jessica Scroppo

Montgomery: Haley Douglas

Morris: Sabrina Baftiri, Vincent Bazzarone, Hannah Berdahl, Patricia Cumba, Cassidy Flatness, Lauren Huebner, Jacob Hulbert, Matthew Lopez, Julia Santiago, Kaitlin Smith, Victoria Sztapka and Meagan Warzynski

Mundelein: Karen Madrigal

Naperville: Cosme Lozano

New Lenox: Alyia Cady, Danielle Callahan, Joshua Cosgrove, Lindsay Czarnowski, Elizabeth Donovan, Jaclyn Duske, Madison Eckberg, Lucas Hancock, Sarah Heimberg, William Higgins, John McGuire, Grace Monahan, Jacob Pott, Isabella Roesing, John Saffrahn, Jessica Sumrow and Lauren Wozniak

Oak Forest: Shannon O’Brien and Carly Vidovic

Oak Lawn: Lucas Wessel

Olney: Sherrie Brock

Onarga: Michelle Andrade

Orland Park: Nadeen Mafadee, Emily Schrader and Douglas Stoodley

Oswego: Haley Bakes, Cristina Cebanu, Megan Krisch, Jack Lemke, Marissa Maltese, Afreen Mushtaheed, Conner Ruddy and Lauren Tims

Ottawa: Caitlin Bruemmer

Palos Heights: Bridget McDermott and Maria Ogrodny

Palos Hills: Jamie Stolfo

Park Forest: Chukwuemeka Egbujor and Nicole Krizmanich

Pekin: Crystal Ulrich

Peoria: Vada Arndt

Peotone: Priscilla Brott and Erik Cioffi

Plainfield: Megan Allensworth, Jenna Anderson, Calie Banting, Jacob Bayuk, Hope Blandin, Chelsea Bolanos, Jack Brick, Andres Castellanos, Jessica Courchene, Ryan Daly, Sarah Deffenbaugh, Eric Fitzmaurice, Samantha Fritts, Graziella Gialo, Dylan Gilbert, Riley Harper, Mary Kate Hynek, Justin Jasper, Jessica Jefferson, Micole Johnson, Margaret Klebenow, Matthew Lauterbach, Megan Little, Joseph Lizzio, Laney May, Alexander Niebuda, Lydia Noble, Erica Passo, Jorge Perez, Brianna Quintero, Kelsey Rice, Sydney Riggs, Arely Sanchez, Aaron Seidler, Shannon Smith, Samantha Sobota, Hanna Spodarek, Samantha Stearns, Odessa Villarreal, and Natalie Zielinski

Plano: Alyssa Dolan

Posen: Denise Lopez

Rochelle: Katherine Bakken

Rock Falls: Rebecca Kinney

Rockdale: Crystal Calderon, Adrian Guzman and Jaycee Jarosz

Rockford: Victoria Bravo and Craig Kampmier

Romeoville: Esther Angomas, Alissa Victoria Araneta, Dominique Cagampang, Susan Davey, Calvin Hartsfield, Jacob Hubbs, Javier Mariano, Madison Massaro, Yazmine Medina, Logan Miller, Magdalena Munoz, Eric Nelson, Nhu Nguyen, Omar Paramo, Vetona Sarpong, Mikeya Stephen, Jazmyn Warner and Oscar Yepez

Round Lake: Dariana Ortiz

Schaumburg Gabrielle Paelmo

Seneca: Madison Maloney, Alexis Murphy, Evelyn Odum and Silas Odum

Shorewood: Aryka Adelmann, Alexis Ceballos, Kathryn Drey, Mark Gezik, Monika Gomez, Audrey Herro, Carleen Krier, Nicole Kulon, Anna Nguyen, Rio Strama and Kallen Vernick

Spring Grove: Lacey Gardner

Spring Valley: Leslie Delgado

Streator: Mariah Horton and Charleen Mascote

Tinley Park: Mervat Abdallah, Grace Alles, Hannah Bolden, Tatiana Chavez, Joshua Kirnbauer, IL: Marcus Lapore, Brianna Leeper, Elyse Panzella, Amari Sims and Danielle Stefanski

Villa Park: Matthew Knudtson

West Chicago: Daniel Goetsch

Westchester: John Stevens

Wheeling: Kelli Pietrowski

Wilmington: Brad Abderhalden, Kassidy Andrews, Jonathon Gholson, Julianna Handorf, Leah Hiles, Cameron Holman, Justin Janulis, Chloe Kirsch, Richard Mroz, Kendall Peatross and McKenna Quigley

Wood Dale: Jose Sanchez

Woodstock: Bailey Wilk

Yorkville: Gianna Arielle Dalangin and Michael Nape

Anchorage: Alec Dudley

Bradenton: Taylor Petz

Clearwater: Dalton Jenner

Hollywood: Rayvaugn Choute

Tampa: Morgan Peters

Conyers: Eric Estrada

Cedar Lake: Christina Lorenzatti

Crown Point: Zachary Hoover

Lowell: Alexia Bibakis

Munster: Michael Prendergast

Saint John: Madisen Tucker

Valparaiso: Samantha Hatagan

Wanatah: Justene Charlesworth


Prospect: Thomas Willis

Kalamazoo: Jonathan Wolf

Bridgeton: Eric Estrada Lopez

Des Peres: Michael Nickel

Saint Louis: Benjamin Phelps

New Hampshire
Amherst: Audrey Johnston

Jaffrey: Kayla Struzik

New Jersey
Colts Neck: Robert Romanik

Las Vegas: Brandon Gibbs and Jordyn Gobrick

Pahrump: Thomas Buechele

Sparks: Scott Walsh


Du Bois: Autumn Barbey

South Carolina
Mount Pleasant: Lori Carithers

Spring Hill: Cameron Pyle

Denton: Timothy Nicholson

Burlington: Kya Kafar

Random Lake: Kendra Bullard

Wisconsin Dells: Sarah Vandermolen


Alcobendas, Spain: Maria Cruz

Ganei Tiqwa, Israel: Nadav Gerner Aharon

Goiania, Brazil: Sergio Peres

Hull, United Kingdom: Morgan Cattle-McKenzie

Lasarte-Oria, Spain: Aitor Anabitarte Soroa

Ricaurte, Colombia: Daniel Espinosa

Rozelle, New South Wales, Australia: Lewis Holey

Saint Petersburg, Russia: Maria Kuzminskaya

Saint Verand, France: Noellie Danielle Renee Inard

Suzhou/Jiangsu, China: Xingwei Chen and Zhouyang Yu

Taoyuan City, Taiwan: Sheng-Ju Ting

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Three MERIT Scholarship Recipients Announced

Joliet, Ill. – Taking on the challenge of inspiring the next generation of students is a responsibility that teachers proudly accept. For Jasmine Flores, Isabel Jaquez and Crystal Mendoza, who are the three newest MERIT (Multicultural Education Recruitment in Teaching) Scholarship recipients at the University of St. Francis (USF), that challenge is one they are ready to assume.

The MERIT program is a partnership between USF, Joliet Township High School District 204, Joliet Public Schools District 86 and the Joliet business community. The MERIT Scholarship provides scholarship funds for qualifying students of color who major in education at USF. Recipients are required to teach in a Joliet school for either four years (Joliet Township High School District 204 and other area seniors planning to attend USF for four years) or two years (Joliet Junior College students planning to transfer to USF for two years). Ultimately, the program is intended to help recruit, prepare, place and induct a new generation of teachers of color for Joliet’s schools.

As the three recipients prepare to begin their respective educational journeys in the fall, they are thankful for the opportunity presented to them through the MERIT program.

“To be a MERIT Scholar, it means that I am given the opportunity to learn and grow into the teacher I want to be. It means that I am learning about the community I will be working in and connecting with students to prepare myself as an educator. As a MERIT Scholar, I am being trained to be a leader and an influence not only to the children, but to everyone who surrounds me,” said Flores, who graduated from Joliet Central in 2018 and then recently graduated from Joliet Junior College.

“To me, being a MERIT Scholar means that I am going to get the opportunity to be the best possible teacher I can be for my students. I also get to be for someone else, what I never got as a little girl, a teacher who looks like me. While all of my teachers were amazing, none of them looked like me nor had a similar background as me or had the same passion that I do for my culture. Being a MERIT Scholar means that I am going to be a teacher in a community where there are many children of color, and I get to be their teacher. My students will walk into my classroom and see someone who is like them, someone who can show them they can be any they want to be regardless of where they came from or what color their skin is,” said Jaquez, who is a graduate of Bolingbrook High School.

For Mendoza, a graduate of Joliet West High School, the opportunity is an example of a dream coming true.

“To be a MERIT Scholar means the world to me because it will help me turn my dream into a reality. Further, it will allow me to share my experience with a diverse group of students,” she said.

While there are many opportunities that come with a career in education, the three newest MERIT Scholars are driven by the impact they aspire to have on their future students.

“I am looking forward to being a teacher because I want to be the one who gets to inspire the next generation to believe in themselves and what they can achieve. No matter who they are or where they come from, I will always want to bring the best out of my students, even if it starts with a smile,” said Flores.

Jaquez believes that building relationships with students is an important characteristic of an effective classroom.

“I look forward most to building relationships with my students and watching them grow as students and as people. Building relationships is so important to a classroom setting. Students learn better when they trust and know their teacher. Even though I have not met my students and many of them probably don’t even exist yet, I love them, and I look forward to getting to know each and every one of them,” she said.

Mendoza also points to the importance of the relationship between teacher and student.

“I look forward to getting to know the students and working with them to reach our goals. I not only want to share my knowledge, but I also want to cultivate relationships and make great memories together,” she said.

Specifically, all three MERIT Scholarship recipients look forward to the opportunity to teach in Joliet schools.

“As a student that lived in the Joliet area for most of my life, I grew to love the diverse atmosphere and the acceptance that was given in the school system. Even though I was surrounded with positive energy, there was still a divide between teachers and with the students; there were not enough minority teachers to balance with the minority populations of the schools,” said Flores, who would like to teach middle school social sciences. “Since I grew up in the Joliet public school systems, I had friends of different cultural and economic backgrounds and was able to understand and connect with those different from me. As a teacher, I want to be able the build relationships with my students through the understanding of the cultural norms and using them to create a unique curriculum that will inspire students, rather than bore students. I want to pursue education because I want to be the missing voice in faculty discussions to stand up for minorities and to give an insider perspective on what will benefit the majority.”

“It is not a secret that many kids in this world do not have someone at home who cheers them on, who tells them they are deeply loved and valued. I want to be a teacher because every child deserves to know they are loved and that they are worthy, every child deserves someone in their corner. My mission as a teacher is to be a confidant and a cheerleader for any student that needs one. I know that I can have a positive effect on the future by teaching every single student I have that they are treasured and valued,” said Jaquez, who would like to teach in elementary school.

“When one thinks about the gifts and talents they have to offer, why not use them to make a difference in the lives of young students. In my case, I would like to share the talents that I have to offer with students and my community. Ever since elementary school, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. My dedication, interest, and passion for the field of education are some of the gifts that I have to offer, and I want to share them,” said Mendoza, who would like to become a high school U.S. history teacher.

Visit for more information on the MERIT Program at USF.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Saint Spotlight: Megan Kelly ’03

Saint Spotlight: Megan Kelly ’03

woman smilingWe’re pointing a Saint Spotlight on Megan Kelly ’03, an accomplished and passionate nurse who selflessly helps those in need through her position in Edward Hospital’s Emergency Department.

What is your current position and employer? 

I am the trauma coordinator for the emergency department (ED) at Edward Hospital.  I cover both the ED at Edward Hospital in Naperville as well as the Edward-Elmhurst Health free-standing emergency center in Plainfield. In this position, I am a resource to the nursing staff when it comes to caring for injured patients in the ED.

How long have you worked as a nurse and what was included in your journey to become one?

I was inspired to become a nurse by my aunt who is a pediatric nurse. In high school I had the opportunity to work in the pediatric office where she worked. As an administrative assistant there, I was exposed to patient care and saw that rather than being the physician, I wanted to be on the nursing side of things, spending more time with each patient. Health care was always very interesting to me and truth be told, I was drawn to the old TV show, “ER.” Something about that show made me feel like I belonged in a world of helping sick and injured people with the occasional adrenaline rush.

Since graduating in May 2003 from USF with my BSN, I have worked as a registered professional nurse in a hospital setting. I started on a medical-oncology unit at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington, IL (where I grew up) while also working as needed as a nurse in the same pediatric office where I once filed charts and answered phones. I then moved back north in 2004 to marry my spouse, also a 2003 USF graduate (Shaun Kelly), and took a position on the cardiac telemetry unit at Edward Hospital. In 2006, I learned of a wonderful opportunity called a transition program where the hospital offers a prolonged orientation in preparing acute care nurses with floor experience to work in a critical care area. I was so glad that I was able to obtain inpatient floor experience as a new nurse, but I had found my niche in the ED. Over the years since then, I remained an ED staff nurse at either the Naperville or Plainfield ED.

About 5 years ago, I took on a part-time role as Emergency Medical Services (pre-hospital/paramedic) Coordinator with Edward Hospital while also remaining a part-time staff nurse in the ED. That later evolved into becoming the full-time trauma coordinator in the fall of 2018. Edward Hospital is a level II trauma center and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) requires that all trauma centers have a full-time trauma coordinator/manager dedicated solely to the trauma program.

How has your position changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?

My position has not changed a whole lot since the pandemic. It is more the day-to-day that has changed for all ED staff.  The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has increased. We wear masks all day when on hospital campus. I can no longer respond to a trauma in the ED without also putting on goggles. Gloves and gowns were already often part of the PPE donned for trauma patients.

We certainly saw far fewer injured/trauma patients during the “shelter in place” period of the pandemic. The communities that Edward Hospital served certainly seemed to heed the warnings put out by IDPH and were staying home for the most part. While we were busy in the ED determining how we would care for patients with COVID, I had the unique opportunity to review trauma care with the staff during low census times. We practiced “mock traumas” in order to stay fresh on our skills and not get tunnel-vision on only respiratory illness, being that that is what COVID involved. But less injuries occur if you are staying home – not as many motor vehicle crashes, etc. Trauma numbers definitely tend to trend upward in the summer months when it is warmer and people are spending more time outdoors. During high census times, I mask and goggle up and get to work triaging patients and helping where there is a need. The ED is unpredictable – you never know what you’re going to get. It I difficult to predict what will walk through the door next and how many people will require attention at any given time. That is what makes it interesting.

Another part of my position is injury prevention.  We try to teach the communities we serve about safety and how to prevent getting hurt.  That is something that has changed since the pandemic as large gatherings were put on pause.  Safety fairs and fire station open houses were all put on pause, which prevented me from talking to kids about wearing their helmet when they ride bikes or teach “Stop the Bleed” classes to adults if they’re ever faced with an injury that causes hemorrhage. Same as many other careers, we have had to adapt to try to get safety and injury prevention messaging out to the community virtually.

What has been your favorite thing about working as a nurse? 

Absolutely, hands down, the best thing is when a patient is appreciative of how you helped support them in their time of need.  Whether a patient is sick or injured, it could very well be one of the worst days of his or her life when I encounter him or her, and so if I can help relieve any of the hurt or stress of what he or she is going through, then I have done my job.  Another part that I adore about my career is the opportunity to teach other health care providers.  Soon after I was hired at Edward to the cardiac floor, I became an American Heart Association Basic Life Support (CPR) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor.  As the trauma coordinator, I teach a course for the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) called Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC).  I adore supporting and empowering other nurses to provide exceptional trauma care.

What has been the biggest challenge as a nurse?

One of the most challenging thing as a nurse is making sure that each patient trusts me to give them my best and feels as important as the next. In the ED, we can be juggling all sorts of patient types at once, such as someone with a cardiac arrhythmia, someone having a heart attack or stroke, someone having severe pain from kidney stones or a gallbladder attack, someone experiencing a miscarriage, someone seeking help as they’re contemplating thoughts of ending their life, someone who cannot help but abuse alcohol or illicit substances due to their addiction, someone who succumbs to their life-threatening injuries. It can be a challenge to put on a happy face and enter the next room of the next patient in need of the best care you can give.

How has the University of St. Francis prepared you for your career?

USF prepared me for a career in nursing in so many ways.  Of course the nursing program was wonderful – the course work and clinical time was priceless.  I would love to recognize Annette Mattea as a professor that really inspired me.  She taught the critical care portion, and I will never forget my clinical time spent in the ICU and ED at St. Joe’s Joliet with her on the units providing us with guidance and feedback.  She is someone that to this day, while she was tough, I know helped me forge my professional path.  Another way that USF prepared me for nursing though is through the volunteer opportunities.  Before the nursing school moved locations, the Guardian Angel Home was a place I would go and volunteer my time helping to care the children of mothers seeking refuge there after suffering domestic violence.  My heart has always gone out to those that are injured, especially in a violent way. Thus, landing me where I am today, in emergency and trauma nursing.

How have you stayed engaged with USF as an alumna?

I have participated in the Student Alumni Mentor program a few times and always enjoy engaging with nursing students on their journey through nursing school. I also love to come back for homecoming festivities. My husband and friends from USF each have a brick on campus that we will go back and look at on occasion and admire the ever-improving changes to campus since we attended in the early 2000s.

What is your advice to USF students studying nursing?

Never stop asking questions. As we learned this past year, health care is very dynamic and ever-changing. Please don’t ever be too intimidated to ask your professor, a preceptor, a co-worker, your charge nurse, a physician a question!  It helps you to grow in your profession. Nursing school might seem overwhelming with all of the studying and book content, but where you will really learn the most is your clinical time, applying that knowledge. ASK QUESTIONS!

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