Diane Habiger ’77

Alumni Spotlight: Diane Habiger '77

female headshotThis Thursday, September 17th, the virtual dedication of USF’s Centennial Gateway and Benoit Commons will take place, marking a milestone for the Centennial Campaign. Diane Habiger ’77 has been the alumna chair of the campaign, working alongside co-chairs including her husband, Bill, and Edward and Gloria Dolinger. The chairs had quite the task.

“Our goal has been to raise money for scholarships and to improve the campus. We are nearing our goal, which is $2 million,” Diane explained.

Of that goal, $1 million will be designated for student scholarships, which will give more students the opportunity to learn and grow at USF.

“I hope that there are students out there who will be able to attend USF and graduate because of the scholarships that will be made available. The cost of education has increased so much since I was a student. My sisters and I would not have gotten degrees if USF (then College of St. Francis) was not in Joliet,” Diane explained.

Another $500,000 of the campaign is being raised for the Centennial Gateway, which will celebrate 100 years of Franciscan leadership. This Gateway is also a way of recognizing so many alumni, faculty, administrators, and benefactors of the university. Diane hopes it will add an additional space on campus for students and visitors to interact and grow.

“I also hope that the Gateway will attract students to USF and that the Quad will give students and visitors a place to exchange ideas and grow in the values of respect, integrity, service, and compassion,” she continued.

Finally, the remaining $500,000 is designated to redesigning the Quad to serve as a gathering place and a common area where students can study and socialize.

“It is an exciting project and I am very proud to be part of it,” Diane explained.

Reaching the Centennial Campaign’s $2 million goal required the contribution of many amazing alumni, among other benefactors, who have come together to help others.

 Over the past year it has been inspiring to see how many other alumni have stepped up and contributed to this campaign. I would never have imagined myself heading up this Centennial when I was a student here. I am grateful to all who contributed to our scholarships, the Gateway, and the Quad. Our alumni are incredible. They are almost 50,000 strong. It is very humbling,” she said.

Besides being an outstanding chair of the campaign, Diane is also a member of the Board of Trustees.

“Being a trustee got me involved in what was happening at USF.  Bill and I started participating in different programs and events going on at USF. We both believe that education is a way for so many to move forward in their lives. We decided to contribute annually to the growth of the university. We believe in what the Franciscan Sisters started 100 years ago and want to see USF grow and prosper,” she said.

The University of St. Francis is so grateful for Diane’s co-leadership on the Centennial Campaign and for all she has helped accomplish. For Diane, she simply wishes that other students can experience the same blessings she received from USF and for the university to have another successful 100 years.

“My life has been so connected to the University of St. Francis and the founding Sisters. I know my life has been blessed by this connection and I have learned so much from both. I love being Franciscan and wish that all who come through this beautiful university will be as blessed in their lives as I have been. USF is fortunate to have such dedicated faculty, trustees, administrators, staff, benefactors, and president. I am grateful to Bill and to Ed and Gloria Dollinger for co-chairing this campaign. I know we are headed to another growth-filled 100 years,” Diane said.

#EveryGiftMatters. For more information on the Centennial Gateway or to donate to the Centennial Campaign, visit stfrancis.edu/centennial. #USF100

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Alumni Spotlight: Madison Blackwood ‘15

Alumni Spotlight: Madison Blackwood ‘15

female headshotUSF SAM Mentor of the Year is a multi-talented businesses owner with big dreams and an even bigger heart.

Our Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) Mentor of the Year, Madison Blackwood ‘15, is a Jane of all trades. Not only is she a full-time real estate agent for Baird & Warner, but also runs her own photography business, Madison Paige Photography, and is an adjunct professor at USF, teaching Speech classes. She credits USF, in part, for her success.

“USF has allowed me to meet people and expand my professional circle, leading me to more opportunities. Being a small campus, alumni are always willing to help their own and hire them because they know the type of education that was received,” she said.

Even with all this on her plate, Madison had time to volunteer in the Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) program and earned the title of SAM Mentor of the Year. She genuinely enjoyed working with her mentee and helping reach her goals.

Madison reflected on her experience with the SAM program, saying, “I loved the SAM program this semester. My background and experiences meshed perfectly with where she wanted to see her career and future go. I was able to offer a different perspective and allow her to feel more comfortable with the choices she was making when coming to her internship opportunities. Talking through choices with someone who has been there before makes the decision easier, and I’m glad I could be that sounding board for her.”

Although Madison’s wisdom benefited her mentee, giving back to USF via the SAM program was rewarding for the Madison too, who in hindsight wishes she would have been involved in the program as a student.

“I really enjoy getting to help a student plan for their future. When I was a student, I didn’t get involved in the program and wish I would have. To have someone who had been there before to lend an ear and listen to what I was thinking would have been beneficial. It’s so easy to get inside our own heads and what we want the future to look like; it makes it easier to have someone there to reel us back in to reality and realistic expectations,” she stated.

Regarding the honor of being the SAM Mentor of the Year, Madison said, “This was CRAZY to me. I feel so honored to be awarded this title, because I was just doing what I would do anyways. I am always happy to help a current student. My mentee was incredible and really made the program this year very memorable.”

Looking Forward

Madison loves to come back to visit the MCOM/CMMA department, and she hopes to continue to give back to USF and grow professionally.

“I am really looking forward to next semester and future semesters on campus helping students in the classroom, but also in the SAM program. Plus, if the year continues the way it is, I am hoping to be in the Top 200 Agents within my real estate company which would be a huge honor,” she said.

We know Madison will continue to achieve great things, and we are so proud to call her a USF alumna.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Alumni Spotlight: Leticia Garcia ’13

Alumni Spotlight: Leticia Garcia ’13

female nurse with full protective gearThe outstanding LCON alumna is using her USF education in the fight against COVID-19.

We are thankful for nursing alumna Leticia Garcia, BSN ’13 and the work she is doing in the fight against COVID-19. Here’s what she has to say:

I graduated from USF in May 2013. I work in Labor and Delivery at Silver Cross Hospital, my dream job since I delivered my daughter at Silver Cross 11 years ago.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, patients are only allowed to have one visitor on our unit. As their nurse I have to take the place of their mom, their sister, or their best friend. It’s sad that during such a special moment grandparents and siblings can’t come visit. Our waiting rooms are empty. Everything keeps changing day by day.

female nurse standing in hospital hallwayIt’s hard to take it all in, but as a nurse you have to stay strong for your patients and reassure them everything will be ok and “normal” soon, even though you yourself have no idea what’s to come.

Patients and their one visitor are to wear face masks at all times. Imagine that, delivering a baby when it’s already difficult to breath and now with a mask over your face. Nurses, OBs and staff have to wear an N-95 mask, a second mask over it, and a face shield during all deliveries—how impersonal! I just hope I can make my patients’ experiences the safest and most memorable with these circumstances. They are the reason why I became an OB nurse.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Abby Kieffer ’17

Alumni Spotlight: Abby Kieffer ’17

female headshotUSF College of Education alumna leads her classroom through the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping students engaged and entertained.

With her USF degree in Elementary Education backing her, Abby Kieffer ’17 has gone on to a job she loves: a middle school math and English teacher at St. Dominic School in Bolingbrook, Illinois. While she loves working in class with students, she has needed to adapt her teaching style and coursework as schools across Illinois moved classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this strong Saint was up for the task.

“It has definitely been a challenge to adapt to teaching online. However, I have a wonderful principal and coworkers that have made the transition smooth. Our students are fantastic, and we all know that this is a learning experience for everyone,” she said

Though the transition was difficult, it confirmed in Abby how important in-class teaching is for a lot of students and how much she misses being there in-person for their daily growth.

“I miss seeing my students every day, and not being able to see them has made it tough. We have found ways around it with weekly class meetings and I co-run our Quiz Bowl Club (which is like a Scholastic Bowl) with our associate pastor. We started to use Kahoot to do this over Google Meet and the students love it,” Abby noted.

Passionate about education, Abby is working toward a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Differentiation at the American College of Education.

“I will be finished with my classes this August and I am so excited! It is so awesome to further myself in this way and continue to learn and grow,” she said.

We are so proud of her!

Returning to USF

This past academic year, Abby also participated in the Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) program and is looking forward to participating in the future. She said, “I would like to do this again and hopefully be able to give more of myself into the program to benefit my mentee and myself.”

Abby loves to come back to USF when she can. She said, “I haven’t attended too many alumni events, but anytime I can visit my alma mater is a great experience. I like to come back to visit professors when I can. I enjoyed coming back to see the Vocal Jazz Ensemble perform (I was a part of this for two years).”

We hope to see her around campus again soon!

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Sue Krueger ’04, ’06, ’16

A special Saint Spotlight in honor of National Radiologic Tech Week

Sue Krueger '04, '06, '16 - National Radiologic Tech Week postAlumna Sue Krueger ’04, ’06, ’16 started her career in health care as a radiation therapist in 1991, which she enjoyed for 10 years before venturing into the management arena. As part of that journey, Sue went back to school to earn her bachelor’s degree in Business Health Arts and graduated from the University of St. Francis in 2004. 

With her love of learning she went on to become director of several diverse departments, including oncology, cardiology, and neurology. She also obtained her Master of Health Administration (2006) and Master of Business Administration (2016), both from the University of St. Francis.  

Today, Sue proudly works as the oncology service line director at Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso, Indiana, as well as an adjunct instructor for USF’s Radiation Therapy program. She loves the people she works with and the communities they serve.

Sue’s advice for students and prospects: “Doing what you love doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. The hard work put into something you enjoy makes you appreciate it even more.  Cherish the challenges as well as the successes, and learn from the journey.”

Seniors Lidia Montoya and Yessenia Garza Research Illinois’ Civil Commitment of Sexually Dangerous Persons

A SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) Program Feature

“Illinois’ Civil Commitment of Sexually Dangerous Persons: An Analysis of Appellate Court Documents”

Seniors Lidia Montoya and Yessenia Garza, both of whom are double majoring in Psychology and Criminal & Social Justice, are spending their summer researching how Illinois courts and court-appointed psychiatrists determine someone to be a “sexually dangerous person.” The research is part of USF’s SURE program.

“This topic interested me because I believe that not a lot of people are aware of policies and laws that affect the community in which they live. As part of the education process as both a psychology and criminal & social justice major here at USF, I get to explore the criminal justice system as well as the psychological implications and ethics involved with some of the policies, which is why when I heard of civil commitment, it intrigued both of my educational backgrounds and it immediately raised one important question: How is a person in civil commitment deemed recovered? That main question is something that is important in our research endeavors because it will provide an explanation for the implementation of civil commitment for sex offenders,” said Montoya.

The Research Process

As part of the SURE project, Garza and Montoya, together with their faculty member Stacy Dewald, Ph.D., are analyzing data from Lexis Uni, a legal document database of sexually dangerous persons cases that have been appealed, which can be filtered to review the cases in Illinois. That has resulted in 365 cases, which the group is coding for characteristics such as gender and age of victim and offender, jurisdiction, if a mental disorder is present, etc.

“Essentially, we are trying to see if there are any significant similarities or differences and if there are any similarities that lead to a specific decision on the appeal,” Montoya explained.

Undergraduate research feature: Lidia Montoya and Yessenia Garza

Relevant Research for Illinois

Sexually dangerous persons can appeal the decisions of the circuit court regarding their civil commitment hearings. This study seeks to research these appellate court cases and examine the relationship between outcomes of the cases and certain variables (e.g., evidence presented, number of disorders, number of victims).

“Finding more information will be beneficial in understanding this topic, especially because it is such a sensitive topic, ethically and for social policy,” said Montoya.

It will be interesting to hear the final findings, which will be presented at the SURE Scholars Day (TBD) and ACCA Undergraduate Research Symposium in April 2020.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin