Anne-Marie Udell ’04

picture of Annie Udell with four friends at an event.She was “too social,” wasn’t serious enough about her studies, didn’t have good grades and wasn’t very concerned about her future. In fact, she struggled so much that she entered USF on academic probation. It was the tight-knit community at USF that helped her get on track, and eventually make her way onto the Dean’s List. A few years later, in 2007, she was named Alumna of the Year. Who better to mentor kids and teach them how to find hope and purpose in their lives?

“Honestly, what attracted me to USF was that they took a chance on me,” says Udell, a Naperville native. “It made me want to do better. My admissions counselor and my professors were really kind to me, and they would check in and make sure I was doing okay. I did better than I ever did in school at USF because of the class size and the personal attention.”

Today, Udell is the Chicago area’s associate regional director for Young Life, a Christian outreach ministry that serves high school and middle school students. She oversees Young Life staff in Oswego and Plainfield, but also contributes to growing the organization and reaching more kids, spreading Young Life’s message and mission. Part of that goal will include founding new Young Life communities in Will County— specifically in Joliet, Romeoville and Bolingbrook, where Udell lives.

During her senior year at Naperville Central High School, Udell did not have a good handle on what kinds of colleges were available to her. USF was a school that came into focus only because her mother, Karen (Reilly) Udell, had gone there, graduating in 1973. Not only did USF open the younger Udell’s eyes to the possibility of academic success— it also provided her with career opportunities.

“I majored in mass communications and broadcasting, and I loved the fact that USF had a radio station,” she says. “That was a big part of my college experience. It was because of the connections through USF and the mass comm department that I was able to land a great job right out of college at Next Media working as an on-air radio personality.”

Yes, Miss “Too Social,” who says she is “as far as you can get on the extroverted scale,” earned a living by talking on the radio, all because of an extra-curricular activity she got involved in at USF. Besides hosting the morning show on the campus radio, she also hosted or emceed countless events on campus, wrote for the school newspaper, gave tours to prospective students and served on the student activities council and campus ministry.

“USF was perfect for me because it was small enough where I got to know almost everyone, and I loved that!” she says.

After two years of working on-air, Udell was hired full-time by Young Life. This also was an extension of her college experience, the fruit of a seed that was planted at USF. As a student, her community involvement
stretched from the Joliet area all the way to Naperville, where she mentored Neuqua Valley High School students as a volunteer for Young Life. And a big part of her full-time job with the organization has been volunteer management—helping people who want to give something back find a place to do it.

“To me giving back to your community is one of the best things you can do,” Udell says. “It is fulfilling personally, and the time you pour into something that you believe in is never wasted. My personal conviction
to do what I do with Young Life comes from my deep belief that Jesus is the only hope for this world, and that He is in all things and for all people.”

It sometimes seems like she is alluding to a younger version of herself when she talks about counseling and inspiring kids.

“I think all opportunities for life change should be in front of them,” she says.

She knows what she is talking about. She had USF, and now hundreds of kids have Young Life and her.

For more information on Young Life, visit