Call for USF Distinguished Alumni Awards Nominations

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF), through the USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, will honor five outstanding alumni with a Distinguished Alumni Award as part of the university’s Homecoming & Reunion celebration in October. One alumnus/alumna from each of the university’s four colleges will be honored based on outstanding professional and personal successes, as well as involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university. The Presidential Alumni Award, the evening’s most prestigious award, will be selected by the university.

Honoree nominations for each of the university’s four colleges may be submitted online at stfrancis.edu/awards. Nominations may be submitted by family members, coworkers, fellow alumni and others who could testify to the nominees’ achievements. Nominations may also be self-submitted. Please note the nomination process will close on July 31, 2021.

The USF Alumni Association’s Executive Board of Directors will review all nominations and will select award honorees (with the exception of the Presidential Alumni Award).

Winners of the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards included: Julie McCabe-Sterr ’75 – College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award; Teresa Andrea ’15 – College of Business and Health Administration Award; Dr. Peter Sullivan ’15 – College of Education Alumni Award; Raquel Prendkowski ’02 – Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award, and; Cheryl (Schroeder) Stepney ’70 – Presidential Alumni Award.

For more information on the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Awards, please contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office at 877-811-ALUM (2586) or alumni@stfrancis.edu.

: :

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 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners Named

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF), through the USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, is honoring five outstanding alumni with the annual Distinguished Alumni Award. Nominations for these prestigious awards were submitted by family members, coworkers, fellow alumni and others who could testify to the nominees’ achievements. The recipients were then selected by the USF Alumni 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 Alumni Award, was selected by the university. In addition, one alumnus/alumnae from each of the university’s four colleges is honored, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university.

Traditionally, award winners are honored as part of the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, award winners will be honored on social media, in a compilation video, through a press release, and on USF’s website, stfrancis.edu/alumni/awards.

The 2020 University of St. Francis Distinguished Alumni Award winners are:

Cheryl (Schroeder) Stepney ‘70

Presidential Alumni Award
Cheryl (Schroeder) Stepney ‘70

(B.A. History)
Retired President & Chief Technology Officer at Empowerment Associates, LLC

Cheryl (Schroeder) Stepney ‘70 obtained bachelor’s degrees in History and English and a minor in Education. She went on to work at large firms in Chicago and then obtained a Computer Science degree from Roosevelt University and became one of the first female pioneers in the technology industry. Her employer, AT&T, sponsored her in the Executive MBA Program of the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.

After filling multiple roles at AT&T, she came across a small, 25-person firm in California and accepted the position of chief trainer. Moving from one million employees at AT&T to a startup proved challenging but paid off in stock option investments. That small firm was Oracle Corporation, which grew to over 40,000 employees by the time she was recruited to move to Minnesota for another startup opportunity. She had implemented a sound methodology for delivering database applications to business. She was hiring manager to over 10,000 consultants. She had started Oracle University, a profit center certifying customers had the knowledge to build the same systems the consultants could build. She also performed product management for a suite of tools to automatically build systems, the earliest Machine Learning capabilities.

Upon moving to Minnesota to become the vice president of professional services for Macromedia, she leveraged her abilities to design database-enabled computer learning systems for large companies. She then established her own consulting company, Empowerment Associates, for the next 20 years before selling the company to Microsoft Corporation and then holding positions on the Database Team as a power business intelligence consultant. Rounding out her 50-year career, Cheryl continued to do consulting until her retirement in 2020.

She has been a dedicated volunteer throughout her career years for Loaves & Fishes, creating the Girl Scout Technology Badge, March of Dimes, and leading the 300 Minnesota volunteers teaching Safe Driving through AARP for nine years. She also served two terms on the Board of Trustees for the University of St. Francis.

College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Award
Julie McCabe-Sterr ’75

(B.A. Social Work)
Problem Solving Court Coordinator at the Office of the Will County State’s Attorney

Julie McCabe-Sterr ’75 began her career working with emotionally disturbed children in Virginia and California. Returning home to Illinois, she worked with the Franciscans at the Center for Correctional Concerns in the Will County Adult Detention Facility from 1989 to 2004.

In 2004 Julie joined the Office of James W. Glasgow, Will County State’s Attorney, as Drug Court Coordinator, which allowed her to bring together her passion for working with the criminal justice involved population and her compassion in helping those less fortunate. Using her aptitude for leadership, strategic thinking and program creativity, she worked with State’s Attorney Glasgow and the community to expand the Drug Court into the Will County Problem Solving Courts, a program that is relevant, sustainable and effective. In fact, Will County is the only Problem Solving Court in the nation to have both a women’s and men’s sober living residence and an apartment building for transitional housing.  During her career, Julie has relied upon her Franciscan values, recognizing the unique dignity and needs of each individual and their family. For instance, Julie worked collaboratively with the University of St. Francis to develop a reading project for the Problem Solving Courts inmates’ children, while also creating new day programming and internship opportunities.

A three-time cancer survivor, Julie has spent the last twenty years volunteering with the American Cancer Society by serving in leadership roles for the Relay For Life of Joliet, as well as performing community outreach for those suffering with cancer. In addition to spending time with her children and grandchildren, Julie loves to garden, swim, and hike the national parks with her husband.

Teresa Andrea '15

College of Business & Health Administration Alumni Award
Teresa Andrea ’15

(M.S. Health Administration)
Chief Information Officer at Silver Cross Hospital

Teresa Andrea ’15 is currently the Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, Ill.  She is a graduate of Bradley University where she received her BS in Nursing.  She also received her MS in Health Administration from University of St. Francis.

Having a strong technology background and diverse clinical roots, Teresa offers a futuristic and adaptive perspective as people, process and technology are connected.  Her experience in multiple roles has allowed her the ability to problem solve through various perspectives.

Known for her transformational and innovative approach, she has successfully implemented numerous organizational projects to support business strategy while incorporating data and analytics to identify opportunities to transform to value based care. Whether it is digital innovation, workflow optimization or technical infrastructure, Teresa successfully fosters conversation in the context of business transformation to secure commitment and engagement, which ultimately brings success in deliverables.

College of Education Alumni Award
Dr. Peter Sullivan ’15

(Ed.D. Educational Leadership)
Assistant Regional Superintendent at the Will County Regional Office of Education

Dr. Peter Sullivan ’15 has served as the assistant regional superintendent for the Will County Regional Office of Education since July of 2018. During his education career, spanning 30-plus years, Sullivan has served as a classroom teacher, principal, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and district superintendent in the Chicago Public School System, Lockport Township High School, Lisle Senior High School, and Will County School District 92. He has been an adjunct faculty member at USF since 2015, teaching courses in research methods and educational leadership as well as mentoring doctoral candidates through both the dissertation process and superintendent internship.

As Will County assistant regional superintendent, Sullivan works to support school districts throughout Will County. He focuses on establishing networks of Will County educators to share their experiences and learn from one another. This effort was guided by his belief that the greatest experts in meeting the needs of students are the outstanding teachers and educational leaders who commit to their success on a daily basis.

Sullivan serves as president of both the Will County School Administrators Organization and the Bradley University Parents Association Board of Directors. He is a past-president of the Rotary Club of Lockport and has been active in a range of youth athletic programs. Sullivan and his wife, Chris, reside in Lockport and are the proud parents of four wonderful young adults, the youngest of whom will be graduating from high school this spring. He cites his wife, Chris, a first grade teacher who has spent her entire career in the Chicago Public School System, as his greatest role model in education. He is truly humbled and honored to be the recipient of this recognition from USF—an institution which has meant so much to him.

Raquel Prendkowski '02

Raquel Prendkowski ’02
(BSN Nursing)
Assistant Chief Nursing Officer at Mount Sinai Hospital

Raquel Prendkowski ’02 says while some people knew they wanted to be a nurse even while playing make believe as children, she did not. Her parents told her she needed to choose a major and suggested nursing, so Prendkowski followed their lead. She found the content to be interesting, and admired the experience and passion the instructors brought to each rotation, but she did not think nursing would be her life’s path.

During school, some sage advice from an instructor regarding a heartwarming patient-nurse interaction Prendkowski had experienced drove her to want to be a lifelong nurse. The words were simple: “She told me that being a nurse is about making connections and helping people no matter how big or small the action might be. This resonated with me and I felt great purpose. Being a nurse meant having the opportunity to do God’s work every day. This was my calling, I just didn’t know it.”

Prendkowski graduated from Saint Joseph’s College of Nursing 18 years ago and says she sometimes feels like a new grad. Every day, she enjoys waking up and learning something new, which she says is one of the most exciting and humbling aspects of being a nurse.

She started her career at a large teaching university as a pediatric intensive care nurse. Over the next decade, she served in PICU, NICU, Hem/Onc, general pediatrics, cardiac ICU, and ED. The experience and educational opportunities provided to her were priceless. She then joined the pediatric ICU team at a safety net hospital with extremely limited resources. After being at the bedside for 14 years, she moved to the manager of pediatrics, then to emergency department director, system emergency department director, and now ACNO. In administration, she gets to help in different ways. She is able to drive policies and practice to ensure her patients are receiving the best care even with scarce resources. She is able to tell stories to donors, legislators, and media about how her institution has been helping the city’s most vulnerable populations for over 100 years and what this means to our community. She is able to help those without a voice due to violence and socio-economic barriers. “But what I love the best is being with my nurses,” she said. “I am able to take their frontline voices of what is best and drive myself to be better for them.”

: :

Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, 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 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

Submit a Distinguished Alumni Award Nomination

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF), through the USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, will honor five outstanding alumni with a 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award. One alumnus/alumna from each of the university’s four colleges will be honored based on outstanding professional and personal successes, as well as involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university. The Presidential Alumni Award, the most prestigious award, will be selected by the university.

Distinguished Alumni Award winners will be announced in September and will be promoted on social media and recognized in a press release. They will also be featured on USF’s website, stfrancis.edu/alumni/awards.

“Our awards program is an opportunity for us to highlight prestigious alumni as well as those who heavily serve their communities. It is inspiring to learn the ways our alumni are impacting the world,” said Aubrey Knight ’04, ’07, Director of Alumni & Family Relations.

Honoree nominations for each of the university’s four colleges may be submitted online at stfrancis.edu/alumni/awards. Nominations may be submitted by family members, coworkers, fellow alumni and others who could testify to the nominees’ achievements. Nominations may also be self-submitted. Please note the nomination process will close on July 31, 2020.

The USF Alumni Association’s Executive Board of Directors will review all nominations and will select award honorees (with the exception of the Presidential Alumni Award).

Winners of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards included: Julius Patterson ‘13 – College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award, Caroline Portlock ’02, ‘04 – College of Business and Health Administration Award, Patricia Arias ’08, ‘11 – College of Education Alumni Award, Lisa Pittman ’00, ’10, ‘13- Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award, and Margaret (Kennedy) Benoit ‘69 – Presidential Alumni Award.

For more information on the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards, please contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office at 877-811-ALUM (2586) or alumni@stfrancis.edu.

: :

Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, 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 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

Mark Your Calendar for Homecoming and Reunion Day on October 5

Joliet, Ill. – Calling all University of St. Francis (USF) alumni! USF has its plans set for Homecoming and Reunion Day on Saturday, Oct. 5 and wants to see YOU there!

Homecoming and Reunion Day will include a variety of fun, family-friendly events both on and off campus, including:

  • Homecoming Tailgate and Football Game: Join the USF family for our Homecoming tailgate and football game at Joliet Memorial Stadium! This event will offer fun for Fighting Saints alumni and fans of all ages. The tailgate (sponsored by the Alumni and Family Relations Office and the Student Activities Board) begins at 11 a.m. and will include free food, music, giveaways, and children’s activities before the big game. There will also be a beer tent ($1 pints) this year. Be sure to stop by the Alumni table for your FREE t-shirt (limited quantity available). The homecoming football game will then kickoff at 1 p.m. as the USF Fighting Saints take on the Robert Morris University Eagles.

  • Alumni Baseball Game and Alumni Softball Game/Reunion: Catch up with old teammates and showcase your collegiate athletic skills as you take on either some of your alumni peers or some of today’s Fighting Saints. Families are invited to cheer on their favorite athletes. The Alumni Baseball Game will take place on Friday, Oct. 4 (note this is the only Friday event on this year’s schedule) at Joliet Route 66 Stadium (home run derby at 6:30 p.m. and the game at 7 p.m.). The Alumni Softball Game/Reunion will take place at the Inwood Softball Complex on Saturday, Oct. 5, beginning at 9 a.m. All alumni athletes that register to participate by Friday, Sept. 7 will receive a free game shirt.

  • Football Alumni Reunion: Join your fellow gridiron teammates, USF head football coach Joe Curry, and other Saints football alumni and friends after the Homecoming football game at 4 p.m. at The Dock at Inwood for food, drinks and camaraderie! Help us celebrate the past, present, and future of the Fighting Saints football team at this complimentary event.

  • “Joliet Gems” City Tour and Merichka’s Lunch: Enjoy a tour of the well-known buildings and landmarks of historic Joliet aboard the USF shuttle and end with a mouth-watering lunch at Merichka’s! The cost per person for this event is $25 and space is limited. The shuttle will depart the Motherhouse parking lot at 10 a.m.

  • Nursing Alumni and Lunch Tour: Attendees are invited to bring a guest and join fellow nursing alumni from St. Joseph School of Nursing, St. Joseph College of Nursing, College of St. Francis and University of St. Francis! Bring your stories and mingle with your former classmates whether you are retired or still working in the field. A delicious lunch will be served among friends and nursing faculty, including Dr. Ebere Ume, the new Dean of the Leach College of Nursing. A tour of our new nursing building will immediately follow. This complimentary event begins at 12 p.m. at the St. Clare Campus.

  • Champagne Receptions: Special champagne receptions are planned for general alumni, as well as classes celebrating their 25th and 50th reunions this year. Receptions will begin at 5 p.m. and will take place in the following locations: general alumni and guests – Executive Conference Room (third floor of the Motherhouse); Class of 1994 will take place – Alumni Gathering Room (second floor of the Motherhouse); and Class of 1969 – Conference Room A&B (third floor of the Motherhouse).

  • Young Alumni Happy Hour: All young USF alumni are invited to a special happy hour at The Dock at Inwood. This was a popular event last year, so we are hoping to see an event larger turnout this year. Register by September 27th and receive a complimentary drink ticket.

  • Distinguished Alumni Dinner and Awards Ceremony: All are invited to join us for dinner as we recognize this year’s honored year alumni (Classes of 2014, 2009, 2004, 1999, 1994, 1989, 1984, 1979, 1974, 1969 and before) and celebrate our 50th reunion alumnae as they are inducted into our Assisian Club. Alumni award winners will be presented by Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., USF President. Winners are selected by college based on their outstanding professional and personal successes and/or involvement in civic, cultural, and charitable activities. The event will take place in San Damiano Hall, which is located on the third floor of the Motherhouse, beginning at 6 p.m. Admission for honored year alumni and award winners is complimentary, and guest admission is $20 per person.

  • Alumni Memorial Mass: All alumni and friends are invited to worship as a community of faith as we celebrate our homecoming and offer thanks for our lives and remember those alumni and friends who have gone before us. Fr. Terry Deffenbaugh, the University’s chaplain, will be our celebrant. Mass will begin at 4 p.m. in St. Joseph Chapel, which is located on the third floor of the Motherhouse.

In addition to the various special events, a hospitality room (Alumni Gathering Room) will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will offer a great place to meet up with classmates or just take a break from organized homecoming festivities. The room is located on the second floor of the Motherhouse.

USF Alumni and Family Relations Director Aubrey Knight ’04 and ‘07 is excited to once again offer a full slate of homecoming activities to USF alumni.

“I am sincerely overwhelmed with excitement as we prepare to welcome our alumni home,” Knight said. “It is amazing to be able to experience the nostalgia that homecoming presents as classmates reconnect and continue to write the legacy of USF.”

Please visit https://www.stfrancis.edu/alumni/hcrw/ for the full schedule of events for Homecoming and Reunion Day, to register for a specific event, and for information on lodging and directions to campus. Alumni are asked to note the event reservation cutoff date of September 30th. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the Alumni and Family Relations Office either by email at alumni@stfrancis.edu or by phone at 877-811-ALUM (2586).

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

USF Seeking Nominations for Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF), through the USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, will honor five outstanding alumni with a Distinguished Alumni Award as part of the university’s Homecoming & Reunion festivities on Saturday, October 5, 2019, in San Damiano Hall, which is located in the Motherhouse on USF’s main campus in Joliet (520 Plainfield Road). One alumnus/alumna from each of the university’s four colleges will be honored based on outstanding professional and personal successes, as well as involvement in civic, cultural or charitable activities, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university. The Presidential Alumni Award, the evening’s most prestigious award, will be selected by the university.

Honoree nominations for each of the university’s four colleges may be submitted online at stfrancis.edu/alumni/awards. Nominations may be submitted by family members, coworkers, fellow alumni and others who could testify to the nominees’ achievements. Nominations may also be self-submitted. Please note the nomination process will close on July 31, 2019.

The USF Alumni Association’s Executive Board of Directors will review all nominations and will select award honorees (with the exception of the Presidential Alumni Award).

Winners of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards included: Lillian (Doleshek) Buckley ’72 – College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Award, J. Brian Bain ’02 – College of Business and Health Administration Award, Holly Bontkowski ’93 – College of Education Alumni Award, Dayna (Bernstein) Jaynstein ’09 – Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award, and William “Bill” ‘82 & Patricia “Trish” (Banks) ‘83 Bellah – Presidential Alumni Award.

For more information on the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards, please contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office at 877-811-ALUM (2586) or alumni@stfrancis.edu.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #