Extras from the Spring 2017 issue of Franciscan Magazine
J. Craig King, Theology ’94
Director of Faith Formation
The Pastoral Vicar at my first parish told me, “Your first year in any new parish should be focused first on building relationships. Meet people, network, make friends, build trust. If you do this, you will more clearly see the needs of the parish, and you will have backing when you work towards meeting those needs.”
I am the Director of Faith Formation in a parish in the Las Vegas area, Henderson, NV. I guess the fact that it is a parish of over 7,000 families and is in Las Vegas might be surprising to some people, but large parishes are the norm here. I oversee K-8 Catechesis, adult formation RCIA, and baptism prep. I also do all of the book ordering for our parish gift shop, where we carry over 600 titles, and I oversee the parish’s IT needs.
I love what I do. Maybe not the paperwork, but planning and implementing various programs and classes, and especially teaching. I get to share the faith with people and see God work in their hearts and their faith come alive. That is awesome, in the true sense of the word. I get to proclaim the Kerygma to people. Can there be a better job than that?
David Mims, Theology and Catechetics, ’16
The best career advice that I have ever received is to never stop praying. I have found that no matter what I’m doing, if I have a strong prayer life the job is easier and more enjoyable. When my prayer life slips into praying only on occasion or not at all, I struggle with everything at work and often times feel overwhelmed. Put simply: “Pray without ceasing”- 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
I am a youth minister, so my job is always interesting. I have days where I am getting pied in the face, days where I am having deep theological discussions, days where I just sit at my computer working, and days where I do all three. It is never a boring day in youth ministry.
I absolutely love my job. I am a youth minister at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe Texas. I love so much about this job. It is constantly giving me a new adventure to go on. The thing that I love most about this job though, is the amazing people that I have been able to interact with. I have teens who are inspirations to me, and adult volunteers who challenge me to be a better person every day.
Robert Martine, History ’74
Civil Rights Attorney
I remember receiving several bits of career advice over the years such as: If you can dream it, you can become it; be the change you wish to see in the world; embrace every possibility; believe in the power of your dreams; there is only one happiness in life; to love and to be loved; believe in God and you will never get lost; and trust in yourself. But the BEST career advice I have ever received is, “Be true to who you are and have the courage to fulfill your heart’s desire.” It was not until I had the courage to be true to myself and follow my heart was I able to set the foundation to establish a successful career.
Everyone’s career path is unique and is somewhat unusual or surprising. Mine may be a little more unusual than most. After acquiring a traditional education I attempted the traditional career path by working for someone else so that they (not me) would benefit most from the fruits of my labor. This created much stress, discord and unhappiness in my life. It manifested in my failed marriage. Soon after my dissolution, I spent the next four years on an untraditional education. The hiatus from my career was spent traveling continuously around the world. Living on an ashram in India and in a commune in Berlin, trekking the Himalayas, praying with monks in a monastery, camping alone in Alaska, traveling on pilgrimages to the most holy sites in the world, living with families throughout South America, all brought about a new self-awareness or realization that would change my career destiny. Traveling allowed me the courage to follow my bliss, to trust in myself and to show compassion for others.
The secret of life isn’t in what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you. For a successful career, self-trust is the first secret of success to make the most of what happens to you. By believing and trusting myself through the audaciousness of my travels, the sky became the limit. I discovered that my unhappiness was brought about by living in disharmony with my true nature and values. My nature was to be in a career where I am my own boss and serving others. As the result, each time I re-started my practice, I have been successful. The thing to remember for a successful career path, NEVER LIVE A LIE, NEVER STAY IN AN UNHAPPY CAREER OR RELATIONSHIP and ALWAYS LIVE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR VALUES, GOALS AND YOUR SPIRIT. Always live in the “Truth.”
I love my job. I am a Civil Rights Attorney with an emphasis on employment discrimination, wrongful discharge and sexual harassment. I love my job because it allows me to live my life consistent with my inner-most principles and values, while thinking and acting in harmony with my highest aspirations. My job allows me to be true to myself and to follow my heart. By being my own boss, I can help others, even though the return may be minimal at times, but knowing the real reward comes from within.
Katherine O’Brien, MA Theology ’91
College Planning Specialist
After earning an engineering degree at Northwestern, and then a master’s in theology at FUS, my journey was quite circuitous. I apply it all to my work with teens as a college planning specialist. Families from across the U.S. hire me to work with their high school student children. I guide them as they explore vocations and careers, then majors, programs, and colleges (or trade schools). Along the way, I work with the parents on the funding side of things.
I love what I do because I love helping young people embrace the treasure of themselves. God makes each of us for a reason and endows us with gifts and talents, and places us in circumstances, for a reason. He has a plan for us. And I get to help young people begin to recognize that plan and take the first steps toward unfolding their lives according to God’s plan.
Al Abel, History ’69
Outside Sales and Trainer
First of all I have been blessed by enjoying two careers. I taught school in the City of Cleveland for 30 years. I was a social studies teacher (thank you Dr. Carigg.)I coached and was an athletic director for over 20 of those 30 years.It was a challenging and rewarding career. In my 25th year, an owner of a manufacturing company that was growing asked me if I would think of working for his company.
I agreed to do this part time for 5 years. Then after my 30 in the schools, I launched into the world of business.I have been able to take many of the skills that I tried to get better at each year in the schools and transfer that “skill set” to business. I have enjoyed 20 years with a company where I have had the role of Safety Director, to now a job as full time Outside Sales and Trainer.The two career areas, although very different have been a perfect fit.I do give thanks every day for the foundation I received at Franciscan University to help me diversify into two different career areas.
Best advice: When I moved from education to business, I found the move to be very intimidating.Best advice I received was ‘Bring to the table what you do best.” Do not try to be something you are not.I felt at times I needed to be forceful in the business arena, an arena I had not grown up in.I took a step back and tried to do as I was suggested I do—“Bring to the table what you do best.” That thought process and course of action has helped me enjoy a 20-year career that I “never saw coming.”It has been, and continues to be, a fun ride.
Diann Schmitt, Nursing ’05, MSN ’07
Associate Director of Wellness Center
The best advicein my careerwas the timewhen Dr.Carolyn Millersat down with me and helpedme to realize that some problemsmayappear too big butyou canwork through them little by little.”How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”It really helped with keeping things in perspective, and I also share this with students who are experiencing the overwhelming lifestyle of a college student.
When I completed my MSN-Nurse Practitioner program, I had planned on working in a private doctor’s office focusing on internal medicine.At the same time Franciscan University Wellness Center was exploring the idea of providing a five-day-a-week on-site care versus the part time medical coverage that was already in place.It was a coincidence that during a phone call with another department, I heard about this new position opening.When I came onboard to provide medical care for students, I never thought that the employee wellness chairperson position would be on my resume.This also led to a certification in wellness programming that actually helped with program building for health programs for students. This unusual career path has been a blessing to me and my family.
I do enjoy my job.Saying I love my job doesn’t seem appropriate to say, as when I think about love I think about my family, my faith, and my desire to help others.In saying this, my job is unique, I enjoy coming to work, my colleagues are special to me, lifelong friendships are developed and I know without a doubt that God is really present in all that we do.
Mike Brasie, History ’12
Best advice I have received: “Luck is the residue of hard work.”
I sell dog food.
I love my job. I get to work with my family
Jeff Elsinger, Communications ’08
My best advice for a career is to get an internship. In the first one I had, I totally realized that this was not the field I wanted to be in. The second internship actually got me the job I wanted in the career field I wanted. If you want to meet the right people to get hired for a particular job try working for them for free.
I went to school for multimedia but now I am creating 3D floor plans for a small company.
I do love my job. For the last three years I have worked for a company that allows me to work from home at my own pace (sometimes I don’t even shave). My boss is super flexible and we are a growing company hiring nine people in the last year.
Andrew Hebert, Business ’85
Best career advice I ever received was to SAVE as much as you possibly can.Jobs come and go, and you can be laid off for reasons that are not in your control.For example, the downturn in the oil economy has led to thousands of layoffs.If you have built up an appropriate level of savings, being out of work can be less painful and having savings can give you significant choices in your career since you don’t necessarily have to choose the first available position due to financial need.This is hard as you first start out, but consider tithing first and then putting an equal amount in savings. Over time, you will have supported the mission of the church as well as stabilize your household.
Ryan Chestine, Theology and Philosophy ’14, MA Theology ’15
“If it was easy, everyone would do it.” and “Don’t sit on your laurels.” -Dad
My surprising job was providing research and various assistance in matters pertaining to peace and justice in the Diocese of Venice in Florida. I showed up two summers ago in southwest Florida, praying to go to law school on a Sunday, and was offered a job working for the Catholic Church on Wednesday. I took the job and have jokingly been told that “the retirement is out of this world”.
Being a philosophy and theology major, I try not to throw the word “love” around too much (especially after Dr. Healy’s Nature of Love Course), though my job is enjoyable and has provided me with incredible learning opportunities. My education and extracurriculars at Franciscan certainly prepared me well to work for the Diocese of Venice in Florida.
Stephanie (Langham) Raffy, Biology ’07
Animal Handler and Environmental Educator
Prof. Petrilla (RIP) from the Franciscan bio department: Think like an ecologist: respect nature, learn and then leave no human trace.
Aftergraduating from Franciscan, I went into the Peace Corps and served as a teacher in the African country of Ghana. Upon my return, Ipursued a graduate degree at Indiana University inenvironmental science. Afterwards, I moved to Michigan and found my current job working as an animal handler and environmental educator for Howell Nature Center. I have been there for three years.
I do love it! I always looked up to the fearless animaleducators on TV like the CrocodileHunter, as well as presenters working for zoos. Howell Nature Center is the largest wild animal rehabilitation center in Michigan, taking over 3,000 injured animals a year. Some animals are permanently injured, and if they have the right temperament, we can train them to join us as we travel around Michigan as animal ambassadors. I am happy to work with these animals, including owls, hawks, vultures, opossums, and more. Meeting people of all ages and giving animal presentations is a real joy. I love showing people how truly awesome opossums can be, along with all the other critters.
Mary Anne Fox, MA Theology ’85
Best Career Advice—whatever you do, do it as if your name is attached to it and written in big letters. In other words, do your best and don’t take shortcuts or do sloppy work. Put your all into it.
Surprising job/Unusual Career Path—VERY! My life was/is impacted by relocations, refocuses, school, economics and especiallywhere God leads me.I have a BS in Foods and Nutrition and an MA in Theology.You could say that myfocus is onnourishingthe body and the soul!My motto is “Nothing is ever wasted.God uses all our experiences.” I started my professional lifeas aWIC Programnutritionist/coordinator,moved to thecall center customer service worldconductingtelephone training for a major telephone company,worked asa Director of Religious Education in two different parishes, and am now an Instructional Designer.I volunteer asa lector, am a member of my parish’sPastoral Council, and am ontwo committees: Faith Formation and Liturgy.
My job—I love my job as an Instructional Designer. I write online and instructor lead training programs for a corporation.I need the variety provided by the constantly changingtopics and training needs!AndI particularly love my parish volunteer workprovidingresources and tools to helpparishioners grow in their faith. My specific responsibilities areproclaiming the Word, conductingBible studies, leading a Christlife share group, planningour parish lenten mission,and selectingresources for the parish at large (books, CDs, Advent/Lent etc.).
Rebekah (Reishus) Allely, Mental Health ’83
The best career advise I ever received was to keep working part time while raising my children. The easiest decision would have been to quit work all together and focus totally on my kids and family. However, having a few hours a week that I was away from home, focused on my work made my life that much richer and more full.
I got my degree from Franciscan in Mental Health/Human Services. I then went on to get a second bachelors in Occupational Therapy from Eastern Michigan University. While interning at the University of Wisconsin Hospital, I was able to spend my final month working with patients on their burn unit. I knew from my first patient that this was exactly what I was meant to do. After completing my second internship in Baltimore, MD, I sent letters to dozens of burn units around the country asking if they would hire a new grad who wanted to specialize in burns. I was hired at Medstar Washington Hospital Center weeks later. That was 30 years ago. I have had the complete joy of working with burn patients over the past 30 years, initially full time, then per diem as I was having my children, now full time again the past six years. My career as a burn therapist is continuing to grow and develop, as I am now involved in not only daily work with patients at the hospital, but also working with DC Firefighters establishing an outdoor recreation program for our burn survivors both locally and taking them to the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, CO. Now that my children are grown and off pursuing their own dreams and goals, I am able to focus more fully on establishing aftercare and reintegration programs for those affected by burn injuries in the DC area. I’ve also had the privilege of traveling to India as part of a medical team to provide further education and training for those being treated with burn injuries.
My time at Franciscan is a treasured memory and I continue to be in touch with many friends from college. A small group of my Theta Phi sisters and I still get together every year as we share the challenges and joys of life. I was blessed to become rooted in my faith while at Franciscan. The awareness of God’s love and His work in the world today gives every day meaning and purpose. I can honestly say that the two main reasons I think I’m on this planet are to be a mom to my kids and to do my work as a burn therapist. Every day we have the opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives, to be one who gives love and life to those around us. This to me is the greatest blessing of all and the source of deep joy. Thank you to Franciscan for playing a major role in my becoming who I am today!
Dr. Kristina Olsen, MA Theology ’09
Director of Information Technology and Business Programs
Best career advice: Get a prayer life (from Fr. Dan Pattee). Prayer helps work and work helps prayer (from Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh).
Unusual career path: I stayed in school and am still in school. I now find myself working in higher education and am grateful to God for the opportunity to share what I learn.
What I do: Director of IT and Business Programs at IGlobal University in Annandale, VA.
Why I love it: The wonderful students and the great faculty and staff! Most of our students are international and I am learning so much from them about their countries, including Nepal, Mongolia, Bangladesh and others. I also teach Religion, Philosophy and Information Technology classes, so my PhD in Theology is valuable here as well as my experience and education in IT and Business. God puts all aspects of my background to work.
Christine (Olimpio) Schoemehl, Theology ’03
I love my job. I teach theology to freshmen and sophomores. I love it because this age has tons of genuine questions without the final decision made. They still actually want to know the answers and continue to question day after day. I’m very honored to be a part of their formative faith years.
Chris Carmody, Education ’05
“You are smarter than the kids!” In the days before my first year of teaching, I was excitedly getting my classroom ready and preparing for my students arrival. Another teacher came in to say hello and told me to always remember that I am smarter than my students. Since I was going to be teaching 7th graders, this seemed obvious to me and I didn’t think too much of it. However, many times over the last twelve school years, I have had to remind myself that I am indeed smarter than my students, because when you have a class of 25 kids all agreeing that you are wrong, it doesn’t matter how educated, confident or correct you are. You begin to question yourself. I share this advice with every new teacher I talk with.
Dave Mayer, Sociology ’13
Get out of Psychology.
Joshua Miller, MA Philosophy ’04
My work as a coach and consultant is devoted to helping persons live out their unique personal vocations to the full. The approach my colleagues and I take is narrative based. We have the wonderful privilege of listening to client stories of their deeply fulfilling action and helping them identify the patterns of innate gifts revealed by those stories. Then, we help them chart out courses of personal and professional development so they can flourish as they serve others. Thanks for what you are doing with this career issue!
Mary (Oborny) Schroeder, Religious Education’04
I am a stay-home-mom that homeschools my seven children (well, 4 are currently in school—the youngest 3 just hang out), and I love it. But my “paying” job is doing legal transcription. It is actually very enjoyable and I can do it at home, starting and stopping throughout my days and evenings of teaching, cooking, and cleaning. I don’t make a lot, but a little extra spending money can sure come in handy! I really love how this is the perfect job to compliment my life. It teaches me more trust in God every time I take an assignment — so I don’t panic and worry I will not complete it on time, because life is often crazy, but God is always there, guiding me on.
Dr. Mary Antoinette Gallo Sunyoger, English ’70
The best advice I ever received while discerning my career path was from my parents who told me to share my talents with others, always being receptive to receiving others’ talents in return. My parents, through their actions, taught me the value of hard work, reminding me that my choices in life made me accountable to the results they produced. My mother and father also reminded me never to soil the family name that they worked so hard to maintain as being good. I was taught to love what I did, to learn from what I did, and to share this with others.
I saw this in the love through the sacrifice of my parents.
My career path has not been an unusual one. In the beginning of my college career, I wanted to be a concert pianist—of course, starting at the top. (My immaturity caused me to think this way). Realizing that this was not my career path, my discernment pushed me to reflect on what I enjoyed doing the most when I was young. I loved playing school; I was the teacher, and my neighborhood friends were my students. For hours on my front porch throughout every season, we did our schoolwork in my “classroom .” And we had fun.
Today, I am a professor at my Alma Mater—Franciscan University of Steubenville. I began my vocation as a teacher at Catholic Central High School in Steubenville, teaching there for ten years and then moving into higher education. As a professor, I look forward to every single day, seeing and working with my students. I truly love and enjoy what I do and with whom I do it. Sharing knowledge, teaching more than what is in the books, helping students grow and their helping me to grow are the reasons, I truly believe, why God has placed me on this path.
I am at peace. I want to emulate the virtues that my parents taught me; and connecting my life with my students’ lives and theirs with mine, however long that is, enables us to travel life’s journey together, growing in Wisdom and growing closer to Our God.
This is my calling. This is my vocation. My teaching is a Thank You to Our Lord for blessing me with all those whom I meet along my Life Journey, for they share in my Passion for what I do, and I share in their passion for what they do.
Kelly (McKiernan) Herrmann, Education ’87
Volleyball Coach and Intramural Director
The best career advice that I ever received was from my mom, “Stay home with your kids when they are little! They need you more than you need a second income!”
I don’t think that my job is surprising or that my career is unusual, but most of my friends who are homeschooling moms with big families like mine have a hard time relating to what I do. As the advisor for Carae Domini Household, Head Coach of Franciscan’s Women’s Volleyball teamand the Franciscan Intramural Coordinator, I am typically doing something quite different than my friends. Depending on the season, I may behosting a Christmas party for the women in Carae Dominiand opening white elephant gifts.I might beon a bus onmy way to a volleyball match in Buffalo, or maybe talking with a group of junior high volleyball players about dedication and magnanimity, or reffing an ultimate Frisbee game, possibly fixing a volleyball net system, or reffinga very heatedmen’s AA (morecompetitive league) basketball game. One of the most interesting annual moments is in the spring when I am training flag football refs. I see the look in theireyes.I know that they are looking at me thinking, “Am I supposed tobelievethat this 51-year-old mother of 6 knows something about reffing football?”At that momentI just start asking them questions like, “What is the difference between defensive holding and defensive pass interference?When is a block in the back legal?” etc.After 3 or 4 questions,I begin to win them over. I could have gone to several NCAA Div. I schools on a basketball scholarship. Instead, I chose to attend Franciscan—the place where I felt most “at home,” the place where I knew that I would grow in my faith, the place where God was calling me, the place where I met my husband and the most wonderful life-long friends anyone could ever hope for. I believe that my education and faith experience at Franciscan prepared me for the most important job I have or will ever have—being a wife and mother. Simply put, I would be a different person if I had gone to school somewhere else. Not only did attending Franciscan give me the strong foundation in my faith, but it createdthe opportunity formy children to have the same experience – something that my husband and I considerone of theGREATEST blessing in our lives! Who knew that my participation in Franciscan Intramurals when I was a student(I like to joke that I majored in intramurals because I played EVERYTHING and ran theIM program as a senior, but I actually majored in education), and my love for sports would give me the opportunity to coach wonderful women and work with the incredible students at Franciscan University. I tell people all of the time that there is NO, NONE, NOT ONE job that I would ever want other than the job that I have now at Franciscan! I literally have my dream job . . . jobs!