Alumni Award winners announced

September 8, 2015

On September 20, 2015 the University of St. Francis (USF) in Joliet, Ill. will honor five talented alumni for their professional achievements. Nominations were received from family members, coworkers, fellow alumni and others who could testify to the nominee’s achievements. The recipients were selected by the association’s executive board of directors, based on outstanding professional and personal successes as well as involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities. The most prestigious award, the Presidential Award, is given by the university president. In addition, one alum from each of the university’s four colleges is honored each year, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university.

2015 Presidential Award Winner: Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate
Joliet Franciscans have lived the challenge and dream given to St. Francis of Assisi by Jesus, “Rebuild my Church,” since their founding in Joliet in 1865 by Mother Alfred Moes. During the young Congregation’s first 11 growth-filled years, Sisters were sent to 36 different missions in Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Ohio. The Sisters taught children in parish schools and played integral parts in the parish life of the Catholic Church as it grew strong roots in America.

At home in Joliet, these first Illinois Franciscans built a motherhouse, took in orphans and boarding students, staffed parish schools, and welcomed new members into their novitiate. They used precious resources to establish a variety of ministries and built a number of Catholic institutions that continue to serve the people of Joliet.

From the earliest days, the Sisters studied and mastered every academic area in order to provide a well-rounded education through their schools. In 1920, they founded the University of St. Francis, inspired to provide an excellent education for students in the Catholic, Franciscan tradition.

Through the years, the Joliet Franciscans listened to a call that led them in 1963 to Brazil, where they soon established several missions and a novitiate, welcoming Brazilian women to join their life and work. The Brazilian community continues to flourish.

While traditionally trained as teachers, the Sisters eventually broadened the scope of their ministries and now serve as nurses and holistic health practitioners, social workers and jail ministers, and an ever-expanding variety of other service professions.

2015 College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Award: Kasia Wereszczynska ’06 (Chicago)
0915 Alumni Award_Kasia WKasia Wereszczynska is a Crisis Worker at Ada S. McKinley Community Services in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of St. Francis in 2006 and a Master’s degree in Community Counseling from the Illinois School of Psychology 2008. Originally from Poland, she has a strong appreciation for different cultures.

Wereszczynska has provided clinical mental health counseling and crisis intervention to a culturally diverse population serving the South Side of Chicago and the North Shore area. She has a history of working in various settings including the mental health court system within the Cook County jail, hospital emergency room, community mental health agencies, and both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric hospital settings.

Wereszczynska is the past president for the Chicago Counseling Association, has served on the NAMI-Metro Sub Board and volunteers with the Sheliah Doyle Foundation. She is the founder of In Her Shoes Foundation and co-founder of Counseling Speaks. As part of her self-care, she enjoys horseback riding, swimming and practicing yoga.

2015 College of Business & Health Administration Alumni Award: Laura Messineo ’11, ’15 (Orland Park)
0915 Alumni Award_Laura MessineoLaura Messineo serves as the System Manager TeleHealth Operations at Presence Health. She earned a dynamic nursing a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Leadership from the University of St. Francis in 2011 as well as a Master of Science in Health Administration in 2015.

Messineo speaks nationally on a variety of topics and sits on various professional boards. She is a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), and sits on various professional Advisory Boards. Laura is passionate about raising money and community awareness of sepsis. In 2014, she spearheaded the first Illinois Sepsis Challenge 5K raising over $27,000 for the Sepsis Alliance. She is actively championing the State of Illinois to pass sepsis regulations.

A resident of Orland Park, Messineo has been married to her husband Steve, for 20 years and is the proud mom of Nicholas, Vince and Andrew. In her free time, Laura can be found cheering her boys on during their soccer, baseball and football games.

2015 College of Education Alumni Award: Daniel Markun ’13 (Joliet)
0915 Alumni Award_Dan MarkunDaniel Markun earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Loyola University in Chicago as well as a Master of Science with a concentration in Secondary Education. Dan began his teaching career with Plainfield Schools, working at both their Turnabout Program and Heritage Grove Middle School. He then went on to continue his career within the Joliet Township School District as a teacher, science content specialist and instructional coach.

Markun obtained a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from the University of St. Francis in 2013. He is currently the Academy Coordinator of the Health and Medicine and Human Services Academies at Joliet West High School, working to create career connections and community service opportunities for the students within his academies. Markun is also a member of the USF MERIT Executive Board and the High School/Community College Action Council for MERIT.

Markun is a life-long Joliet resident and the ninth of eleven children. He has been married to his wife, Katie (Juricic), for the past 10 years and together they have three rambunctious boys; Danny, Andrew and Nathan. As alumni, Markun, his wife, mother and mother-in-law, several brothers, sisters and in-laws continue to share a rich tradition at the University of St. Francis and College of St. Francis.

2015 Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award: Dr. Mary (Lauric) Petrella ’78 (Minooka)
0915 Alumni Award_Mary PetrellaDr. Mary Therese Lauric Petrella did her basic nursing training at St. Joseph School of Nursing and graduated with a diploma in Nursing in 1978. She achieved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Illinois Medical Center Chicago in 1982, a Master of Science in Nursing from Rush University Chicago in 1986 and her Doctoral degree in Community Health Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner Program in 1997.

Lauric Petrella is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Hines Veterans Hospital’s Joliet Community Based Outreach Clinic. She provides primary care to veteran patients in an ambulatory care setting. In addition, Mary works for Walgreens Healthcare Clinic, providing treatment for minor acute care issues and illnesses as well as school and work physicals and immunizations.
Lauric Petrella married Bradley, a double alumnus from USF, in 1979. They have two children, Laurica’07 and Philip , and one grandchild, Antolina Francesca.