USF Announces 2022 Homecoming & Reunion Plans

Homecoming 2022

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) has announced its plans for USF Homecoming & Reunion with events that will take place from Friday, September 23, through Sunday, September 25. With the variety of events set to take place, there is something for all alumni and friends of USF to enjoy.

This year’s Homecoming & Reunion events include: (on Friday, September 23) Alumni Baseball Game; (on Saturday, September 24) Alumnae Volleyball Game; Homecoming Tailgate & Football Game (vs. Siena Heights); USF History in Photos; Campus Tour; Communication Reunion; Alumni Memorial Mass; and Distinguished Alumni Dinner; and (on Sunday, September 25) the Nursing Tour and Brunch.

Visit stfrancis.edu/hcrw for more information on Homecoming and Reunion events, 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 21, 2022.

Lisa Sampalis, USF vice president for advancement, is excited to offer once again a full slate of homecoming activities to USF alumni.

“The University of St. Francis is delighted to welcome our students and faculty back to campus. You can feel the synergy on campus with bright smiles and big dreams,” Sampalis said. “We welcome our Alumni and the entire Joliet community to Homecoming & Reunion weekend September 23-25. Return home to your alma mater for a weekend of celebrating and reconnecting with faculty and friends.”

New this year is a Homecoming & Reunion outreach goal to raise funds that will provide financial assistance for current USF students.

“Our Homecoming & Reunion outreach goal is $25,000 in support of the Jane Engleton Snyder ’35 Scholarship, the Academic Resource Center (ARC) and the Francis Fund. Scholarships help students realize the dream of education, and the ARC helps support that dream. We have a group of alumni who have committed to match gifts received through December 31, 2022,” said Kim Kalafut, USF director of the annual fund.

Gifts toward the Homecoming & Reunion Outreach goal can be made by visiting stfrancis.edu/hcrw.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office either by email at alumni@stfrancis.edu or by phone at 877-811-ALUM (2586).

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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 53,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

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USF Announces 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Winners

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF), through the USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, recently honored five outstanding alumni through the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards program. 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 Presidential Alumni Award, the most prestigious of the Distinguished Alumni Awards, was selected by the university. In addition, one alumnus/alumna from each of the university’s four colleges is honored, highlighting the diverse disciplines of a comprehensive university.

Distinguished Alumni Award winners were honored at the annual Homecoming & Reunion celebration on Friday, Oct. 1. Winners are also promoted on social media, via a press release, on the USF web page (stfrancis.edu/awards), and featured in the university’s Engaging Mind & Spirit magazine.

The 2021 USF Distinguished Alumni Award winners are:

Presidential Alumni Award – Charlotte Codo ‘74

Charlotte Codo began her studies at St. Francis when her children were in middle school and high school. A disciplined scholar, she was drawn into the study of French first by the exceptional and demanding Dr. Charles C. Maleczewski, followed by Dr. Vilem Stranecky, who were both exacting linguists who demanded perfect Parisian pronunciation. Maleczewski had served as a translator at the Nuremberg trials because of his precision and skill in several languages: French, German, Russian and English. This was profoundly important to Charlotte’s sense of international social justice. Charlotte shared these standards with her children, required French language to be spoken at dinner several nights each week, mercilessly but hilariously corrected their accents, and constantly played reel-to-reel tapes while she cooked and finished laundry. Many expressions from her classrooms gravitated into her family’s stories. “Your ear will love it,” promised Maleczewski regarding the French language stories playing in the background of her children’s daily lives. Stranecky described the fragrant smells of dinner in his aristocratic home, “It comes to me like so…,” accompanied by the quintessentially French expression of all fingers together, sniffing daintily in front of one’s nose. Charlotte’s children loved these professors for the attention that they gave their students—including Charlotte—and they saw their mother claim her intellect under their tutelage. 

Originally educated as a nurse at Wesley Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University, then as an artist and always a student of nature, Charlotte responded powerfully to the world of French literature and culture to which she was introduced at St. Francis. After graduation she chose to study watercolor painting and pastels in the south of France, outdoors, for many summers with friends who were also French and art students. 

Charlotte’s lifelong love of nature, stemming from her childhood in the Wisconsin woods adjoining her family’s farms, prompted the development of her husband, Norman’s, family farm in Frankfort, Illinois into a 30-acre native prairie and oak savannah. The farm has been the source of numerous lectures, preservation and education efforts and family gatherings over the many years it has been in Charlotte’s family. Donating the farm to St. Francis demonstrates the love Charlotte and Norman share, the love Charlotte feels for nature, and the love Charlotte feels for her years of intellectual engagement at St. Francis. Charlotte and her family are thrilled that the Charlotte Codo Prairie will be enjoyed, studied, and preserved and are so touched by this honor. 

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College of Arts & Sciences Alumni Award – Dr. Jillian Scherer ‘05

Jillian Scherer, M.D., IBCLC is a family medicine physician at Whole Family Health in Olney, Illinois. She lives and thrives there with her husband, Mark, and their children, Daniel (8) and Mary (4). 

After graduating from USF in 2005, she went to Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood and obtained her medical degree. While in training, she realized she enjoyed a wide variety of medical conditions and treasured the human connection found in family medicine. She started residency at Waukesha Family Medicine Residency in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where she underwent a very rigorous training program not only to be trained in family medicine, but also to learn advanced skills in obstetrics in hopes of being a small-town physician providing full care from womb to tomb. After completing that training, she and her growing family moved to a town of 5,000: Richland Center, Wisconsin. While working as a family medicine physician, she was caring for patients in the hospital, the clinic, and in the birth center. As financial strains in health care forced the clinic to add more and more patients to each clinic day to make a profit, Jillian realized that her dream in medical school was to treasure the relationship between a doctor and patient, and moving to seven-minute visits with patients was not achieving that dream.

After much deliberation, she and her family packed up and moved to rural southern Illinois to start a direct primary care clinic. In this setting, Jillian is afforded the time to take five minutes or two hours with a patient as the situation requires. She now has time for lifestyle medicine, lactation medicine, and traditional family practice. Jillian joined this progressive movement of primary care physicians reclaiming the practice of medicine where respect, integrity, service, and compassion are just as she dreamed.   

When Jillian is not caring for patients in clinic, she is riding bicycles with her family, walking with friends, helping with homeschooling during the pandemic, and reading a good book.

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College of Business & Health Administration Alumni Award – Sheila Brune ‘86, ‘09

As a child, Sheila Brune loved to take care of things. As a farm child, there were lots of things to take care of, and it never ended!

Her journey in health care began in Iowa at St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing. As an R.N., she began her career working in Los Angeles caring for many of the rich and famous at Mt. Sinai Hospital. She ended years later by caring for some of the poorest of the poor on a mission trip to India. That trip fueled her passion to end gendercide and abuse of the Indian girl child. 

Along the way, she became acquainted with the University of St. Francis. She began the B.S. program, and through several moves and the birth of her first child, she completed the program. She got her first management job as director of case management, and later, quality director, all while taking one class at a time, now for a M.S. in health services administration. She was certified in quality, utilization management and case management.

Along with a busy career, births, deaths, and her husband’s cancer fight, she often wanted to quit. Then she would remember how much she loved the classes and the friends she made at St. Francis. In 2009, she graduated from her master’s program. At the same time, her son finished family practice residency and her daughter graduated high school with high honors. She found time to create an innovative program to write life stories of the people we care for every day. She fought tirelessly to correct processes after a medical error led to her father’s death, and then spoke at numerous conferences telling her story in hopes of saving others. She served on the board of a homeless shelter, the Red Cross and was active in Kiwanis, Beta Sigma Phi and PEO. She sometimes cleaned her own house and cooked a meal for the family.

After retiring from hospital work, she worked as a substitute school nurse.  She wrote life stories of hospice patients, and at the end of her 50-year career, she was proud to volunteer at COVID-19 vaccination clinics. 

Sheila and her husband, Sam, anxiously await the birth of their sixth grandchild, who they plan to spoil beyond belief, in 2022. She believes passionately in laughing, having fun every day and praising God for the blessings of a beautiful life.

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College of Education Alumni Award – Dr. Karla Guseman ‘01

Born and raised in Joliet, Dr. Karla Guseman began her career in education at Joliet Township High School (JTHS) in 2000 as a science teacher at Joliet Central. She served in this capacity for six years, taking on various leadership roles associated with the science curriculum, school improvement planning, the Strategic Plan, and professional development. In 2006, she shifted to an administrative role as the curriculum director for science and applied life before being promoted in 2011 to assistant superintendent for educational services. Karla was promoted to superintendent of Joliet Township High School District 204 in February 2020.

Karla believes that all students must have an equal opportunity for a high-quality education. All students must have access to a relevant and rigorous curriculum that will allow them to acquire the knowledge and skills to be successful in the post-secondary experience of their choice.  

Community involvement is immensely important to Karla, which is demonstrated by her leadership within the Kiwanis Club of Joliet where she was awarded the Distinguished President Award for her leadership and involvement with high school Key Clubs and Builder’s Clubs in District 86 and Elwood Schools. Karla serves as the YMCA Metro Board secretary and is a member of the Board Governance Committee. Joliet Township High School, under her leadership, was a 2020 Gold Star Awardee from the National Hookup of Black Women Joliet Chapter in recognition of commitment to family and community for its extraordinary work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Superhero Award from the Will County Democrats during the summer of 2021 for working in partnership with the Joliet Fire Department to offer a vaccination clinic at Joliet West High School from February through May of 2021, where over 60,000 shots were provided to community members. 

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Leach College of Nursing Alumni Award – Jada Sims ‘20

Jada Sims grew up in Romeoville, Illinois. During the earlier parts of her education, she faced many obstacles but never gave up because of the support she had from teachers and her family. At the age of 12, Jada decided that she wanted to be a nurse and worked tirelessly each day to achieve that goal. By the time she got to high school, she began to see the hard work she had put into her studies pay off through awards for service to her community and academic achievement. During her last two years of high school, she began to take steps toward gaining nursing experience by attending Wilco Area Career Center, a technical school located in her hometown.

Jada’s journey continued at USF as a first-generation student. Throughout her time at USF, her service to her peers included various campus work, such as a Saints Ambassador, Foundations mentor, participating on the orientation board, and health assessment supplemental instructor. In 2020, she graduated with honors from the university and was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, one of the highest honors a nurse can receive.

In July of 2020, Jada began working as a cardiac-neuro critical care nurse at Edward Hospital, where she continues to make a difference in the lives of the patients she encounters. Despite starting her nursing career at the height of the pandemic, Jada has decided to continue her education through an MSN in nursing administration this fall here at USF. The best part of her story is that it is still being written.

Distinguished Alumni Award winners were honored at the annual Homecoming & Reunion celebration on Friday, Oct. 1. Winners are also promoted through social and local media, on the USF web page (stfrancis.edu/awards), and featured in the university’s Engaging Mind & Spirit magazine.

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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 stfrancis.edu.

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

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USF Announces Homecoming & Reunion Plans

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) has announced its plans for Homecoming & Reunion with events that will take place on Friday, October 1, and Saturday, October 2. With the variety of events set to take place, there is something for all alumni and friends of USF to enjoy.

This year’s Homecoming & Reunion events include: (on October 1) #StFrancis Friday; Alumni Baseball Game; Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner; (on Saturday, October 2) Homecoming Tailgate & Football Game (vs. Missouri Baptist University); Multicultural Reception; “Joliet Gems” City Tour & Al’s Steakhouse Lunch; Nursing Alumni Lunch & Tour; USF History in Photos; Campus Tour; Football Alumni Reunion; Time Capsule Burial Ceremony; Communication Reunion; Alumni Memorial Mass; Volleyball Game & Alumni After-Party; and Honored Alumni Dinner.

USF Alumni & Family Relations Director Aubrey Knight ’04 and ’07 is excited to offer once again 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. “Given the challenges presented throughout 2020, we are very much looking forward to experiencing the nostalgia that homecoming presents as classmates reconnect on campus and at these events as they continue to write the legacy of USF.”

Visit stfrancis.edu/alumni/hcrw for more information on Homecoming and Reunion events, 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 29, 2021. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the Alumni & Family Relations Office either by email at alumni@stfrancis.edu or by phone at 877-811-ALUM (2586).

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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 stfrancis.edu.

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

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Update on Homecoming and Reunion Celebration

Joliet, Ill. – While the University of St. Francis (USF) is currently making plans for students and faculty to return to campus for classes this fall, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Joliet’s university to change, postpone and even cancel a variety of special events this year due to attendance restrictions outlined in Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. One major event that has been canceled is USF’s Homecoming and Reunion Celebration, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26.

“Due to the current situation, the inability to gather in large groups, and the priority of keeping our alumni safe, we have made the decision to cancel USF’s Homecoming and Reunion Celebration this year. While we are disappointed and know that our alumni are, as well, we want them to know that we are and will be working hard to make next year’s celebration the best yet and we look forward to everyone’s participation,” said Aubrey Knight, ’04, ’07, USF Director of Alumni & Family Relations.

The decision, while difficult to make, is understood due to the large number of attendees that many of the events that are part of USF’s Homecoming and Reunion Celebration draw annually, including the tailgate at Joliet Memorial Stadium (approximately 600-800 attendees) and the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner (approximately 150 attendees).

Knight added that planning is currently underway for festivities in 2021, but with an important change: splitting the Homecoming and Reunion Celebration into two separate events.

“Reunion Weekend is scheduled for June 5, 2021, and will focus on alumni by major as well as our honored year reunion classes (including those who we would’ve celebrated in 2020), while Homecoming will take place later that fall on a to-be-determined date and will focus more on alumni from USF’s athletic programs,” Knight added.

This separation allows the Alumni & Family Relations Office to better focus their efforts on the honored year reunion classes since there will be twice as many alumni to celebrate next year. “We want to make it an event to remember, and this split allows us to do just that,” said Knight.

As plans for 2021 are announced, they will also be made available at stfrancis.edu/alumni/hcrw. Alumni may also direct questions to USF Alumni & Family Relations Office at (877) 811-ALUM or alumni@stfrancis.edu.

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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.

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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.

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