14 to watch in '14

     If there’s one thing Saint Mary has no shortage of, it’s amazing alums.
     USM has so many—nine decades’ worth, in fact—that we could never hope to profile every deserving alum in this humble magazine.

     The article you’re about to embark on is our attempt, though, to shine a spotlight on a handful of Saint Marians who are doing extraordinary things—in their careers, their communities, and their personal lives.

     These are alums like you who are succeeding and excelling through their God-given potential and the skills and learning picked up at Saint Mary.

     It’s not an exhaustive list. It’s not meant to be. It’s not a ranking or a who’s who. These are simply Saint Mary stories passed on to us that we are now passing on to you. They’re stories that deserved to be told, about people who deserve to be known by their classmates and fellow alumni.

     We hope you enjoy these profiles, and, that as you read them, your mind is filled with all of the amazing potential a new year brings with it.

     And, as always, we look forward to hearing your Saint Mary Story.

Geoff Peterson, U'09
Blue Springs, Mo.

What does 2014 hold for Geoff?

     The next step on some recently begun journeys—“We recently moved back to the area from Portland, Ore., I just began working at Raintree Family Dental in Lee’s Summit, Mo., and we just had our daughter, Evelyn Lou Peterson… I’m currently working on beginning a free dental day within my practice in Lee’s Summit as well as bringing mobile dental vans for the underserved to KC.”

     Not a big stretch for the volunteer of the year during his days in dental school.

Saint Mary Memories?

     Where to begin? Meeting his wife, Becky, “would be the top, but I am also thankful for the fact that I got to share my college experience with my sister, Lindee, who also graduated in ’09, and that I got to carry on our family tradition of attending, as my mother went to Saint Mary… Dr. Brian Hughes was a constant motivator. Dr. Mackintosh guided me through my final years at USM and into Dental School. Sr. Roberta O’Leary was one of my best friends and mentors.”


Sean Coughlin, C'02
New York City

What does 2014 hold for Sean?

Big-time Broadway productions. “Since leaving Saint Mary, I’ve moved all over... Rhode Island, Detroit, (for grad school) and Santa Barbara. After five years of managing professional theatres in California, I moved to New York City in 2011.” Sean’s big break came when he “became the Associate Manager of the Marquis Theatre on Broadway owned and operated by the Nederlanders (my employer). I worked on Evita with Ricky Martin for five months and then last November was promoted to managing my own theatre—the Neil Simon Theatre… To say the least, it’s been a big adventure!”

What does Sean remember most about Saint Mary?

     “Van Ibsen made a huge impact in my life. I’m so grateful to have had him as my professor. He taught me an invaluable work ethic, and appreciation for all aspects of people working in my craft.”


Wayne Hodges, U'08 & M'09
Mission, Kan.

What does 2014 hold for Wayne?

More growth for his home-grown e-marketing business. Wayne keeps busy “securing advertisers for my website, I’m also seeking sponsors for my weekly radio show on KC radio station KGGN 890 AM… I hope to expand our demographic into larger markets.”

What does Wayne remember most about Saint Mary?

     “I’m thankful for the challenging curriculum. Professors Carlton Philpot and Geoffrey Heathcock were most instrumental in my development as both an undergrad and grad student.”

Words of Wisdom

     “Life is short so refrain from wasting time; set a goal and take the incremental steps necessary to bring
about achievement.”


Courtney (Manago) Huhn, U'07
Lansing, Kan.

What does 2014 hold for Courtney?

“Our daughter Madeline will turn 3 in March, and we are expecting our second in mid-January.”

     Courtney, who graduated from KU Medical School in 2011, also expects to embark on the next leg of her medical career. “I will complete my family medicine residency in June 2014, and will complete an additional year of training as a Geriatrics Fellow at KU’s Landon Center on Aging starting in July… I am most proud that I have been able to be start and expand on our family; all while pursuing my professional goals. My family is my inspiration, motivation and the energy that keeps me going.”

     And Courtney needs all the energy she can get. She’s worked with professional organizations to change a state law surrounding the Kansas Medical Student Loan Program, and is a leader in the American Academy of Family Physicians. She’s also served as a chief resident of family medicine, and was one of only 12 nationwide to receive the 2013 AAFP Award for Excellence in Graduate Medical Education.

What does Courtney remember most about Saint Mary?
     “Very early on in my medical school training, I was struggling with the large class size, the volume of material, and the standardized testing format. A mentor of mine there told me that we each go through life with a different set of tools that we acquire from our personal experiences. He spent time trying to emphasize the tools I came to medical school with, and as we talked I realized many of the tools came from my time as a student at the University of Saint Mary.”


Jay Arthur, U'08
Lincoln, Neb.

What does 2014 hold for Jay?

Delving into his still-young career as a physician assistant—and some travel: “My girlfriend of 2 years is graduating from medical school and we will be traveling across the country for residency interviews. I’m looking forward to going along for the ride.”

     Jay is now in year three of his gig as a PA at a dermatology clinic. “I’ve had the opportunity to travel to different parts of the country for work, and meet new people… I found a career I really enjoy. I get up every morning and look forward to going to work.”

Saint Mary Memories?

     Being a part of the baseball team was something I will always remember. I am thankful for all the friends I have made. Dr. David Greene, Dr. Nancy King, and Dr. Caroline Mackintosh all went the extra mile to help me succeed.”


Frankie Walburn, U'12
Overland Park, Kan.

What does 2014 hold for Frankie?

Working toward a master’s and more chances to give back. “After graduation, I took a position as Program Consultant at the Lansing Correctional Facility. Through this position I provided multiple cognitive behavioral programs to assist inmates releasing from prison. I created and developed new programs for inmates to partake in during their incarceration to better prepare them for release.

     “I’m proud of my ability to give back—I am giving back through my job by utilizing my amazing education to provide effective reentry programs for inmates. I have also been allowed an opportunity to come back and speak to graduating students.”

Saint Mary Memories?

     “I am grateful that Saint Mary never gave up on me! I suffered a few bad head injuries, which impaired my abilities at time, but through the overwhelming care and compassion of the teaching staff I managed to continue on my path to success. It would have been easy for Saint Mary to send me the letter of rejection, but instead they provided extra assistance and understanding.

     “The combination of Dr. Nancy King and Dr. David Greene in the Psychology department is the best a school could ask for. I would truly like to thank both of them for not giving up and making me who I am today.”


Susan C. (Hammen) Smith, C'91 & M'00
Overland Park, Kan.

What does 2014 hold for Susan?

A packed schedule. “Recently, I retired from law enforcement in Johnson County after 22 years. I am now the vice president of operations for an international analytics company, BAIR Analytics. I have co-authored books and written several articles for peer-reviewed publications. I teach at one college and three universities. I’m an Adjunct Policy Analyst for RAND Corporation. I’m the President of the International Association of Crime Analysts. And I’m finishing my Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration / Criminal Justice and am currently writing my dissertation.”

Saint Mary Memories?

     “The friendships I made. I found my best friend, Jane, there and we’ve stayed in touch for over 20 years now. Other classmates like Beth Dillon and Jim Casey and I are still in touch.”

Words of Wisdom

     “Leverage everything and everyone you know to achieve greatly. Take advantage of opportunities - when a door is opened for you, walk inside and seize the opportunity before you. And always make the most of every single day with your family.”


Noel Grabouski, U'07
Overland Park, Kan.

What does 2014 hold for Noel?

Continuing her career as a top consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton and some yet-to-be-determined international travel.

     “My two main passions are philanthropic work and travel. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a lot in the last few years, and I am excited to cross another trip off the list in 2014. We have not yet decided where that will be, but spending time learning about another place and culture is always something to look forward to.”

     Noel’s also entering her sixth year as a consultant—a career that already saw her named one of 15 fellows to the Manfred Wörner Seminar.

     That all may not top last July though. “Justin Grabouski and I were married during a surprise wedding at his brother’s farm in Leavenworth. We honeymooned to Ireland in September.”

What does Noel remember most about Saint Mary?

     “When I came to Saint Mary I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do in life, but I chose to follow my passion and study Political Science and get involved in the community, building strong networks that have proven invaluable. So, my best advice would be to follow your passion, because you can either work to live or live to work. And whichever you chose is entirely up to you.”


Katera Mowry, C'02
Springfield, Mo.

What does 2014 hold for Katera?

Continuing education and a first birthday. “I just had my first child, Sophia, five months ago. And I’m finishing up my residency in clinical psychology, and getting ready to start studying for the EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology).

     “I’m looking forward to being a provisionally licensed psychologist and working toward getting my full licensure and moving ahead with my career!”

Saint Mary Memories?

     “The quality of the education I received and the psychology department faculty! Dr. Nancy King played a major part in me continuing on with my education. She is one person who I have always looked up to and respected. She was a great source of support for me!”


Sister Rejane Cytacki, C'01
Leavenworth, Kan.

What does 2014 hold for Sister Rejane?

A return to her alma mater, and a new step in her journey of faith. “I just professed my final vows on July 7 after eight years of formation. I taught the last four years at Xavier Elementary and am now working at USM as the Environmental Education Coordinator. I want to develop my role here at USM—enhancing the recycling program, a bio retention cell maintenance, and much more!”

What does Sr. Rejane remember most about Saint Mary?

     “USM really instilled in me the importance of serving others and being a life-long learner. I am thrilled to be a Sister and have the opportunity to work with many people from all walks of life through education. Sr. Mary Pat Lenahan was very inspirational with her passion and enthusiasm for education. She knew how to create a community of learners among us.”

Words of Wisdom

     “Find your passion and follow it!”


Preston Becker, U'12
Terre Haute, Ind.

What does 2014 hold for Preston?

A new beginning: “This next year is going to be a big one for me! I will be marrying my best friend and beautiful fiancée, Mary Kate Hosty, in August. It is going to be an exciting year full of family, friends and much love…

     “After graduating from USM, I served as the director of youth ministry, director of young adult ministry and liturgical coordinator at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Lawrence, Kan. Then, in the summer of 2013, I began serving as the Pastoral Associate for Campus Ministry at St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, Ind. Now I serve as the Catholic Campus Minister for Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. I have the best job in the world!”

Saint Mary Memories?

     At Saint Mary I had a very wide range of ministry opportunities. In the classroom, I was challenged in my faith and theological knowledge, which led to much growth and confidence in my pastoral ability. Outside of the classroom I got the opportunity to minister in many different settings. Through connections at Saint Mary, I was able to do ministry in hospitals, prisons, and churches, and minister to the young, the poor, the elderly, and the lonely. There are many of the experiences I had there that I will never forget.”


Andrew Ryan, U'07
New Orleans

What does 2014 hold for Andrew?

A big opportunity for success. “I co-founded an organization that is building a web-app that motivates individuals to exercise more by allowing people to give away the calories they burn to malnourished or hungry individuals wherever they reside. We want to make it exceptionally easy for people to make positive change in the world, and with our app they can do that just by living a healthier life.

     “I pitched the idea at an event called Startup Weekend and I completely expected the idea to gain no traction, but we ended up winning the event and have since been in discussion with many potential partners and investors.”

Saint Mary Memories?

     USM helped buttress Andrew’s interest in service, and he’s been on multiple service trips since, including efforts to help clean up after Katrina (coincidentally, volunteering in NOLA also convinced Andrew that he wanted to live there).
“Saint Mary offered me a safe and hospitable space to transition into adulthood. I came to school with no goals, little ambition, and no work ethic. Thankfully, I had people that pushed me and did not accept my old approach at life.”


David Reed, C'03
Oxford, Miss.

What does 2014 hold for David?

A brand new semester for the new visiting assistant professor at Ole Miss. “I also have plans in the works to spend part of the summer directing and fight choreographing regional summer theatre, as well as instructing at the National Stage Combat Workshop in Winston-Salem, N.C.”

     David and family—including 5-month-old Adeline Cecilia Reed—are getting situated after moving from Waco, Texas.

Saint Mary Memories?

     “The intimacy of the campus and the classes. I transferred to Saint Mary after spending two years at a large state university where I was just a number; I actually mean just a number (I still have it memorized… it’s branded in my brain)… My experience at Saint Mary was the opposite. I never had a class in which the teacher didn’t refer to me by name.

     “As a theatre major, there is no way that I could leave Van (Ibsen) and Dani (Trebus) off of the list. I would not be where I am right now, professionally or personally, if it weren’t for the ridiculous amount of work and love that they put into the department. They are not just teachers. They are talented and knowledgeable theatre artists.”


Shauna Hammett, C'04
Overland Park, Kan.

What does 2014 hold for Shauna?

A new professional challenge for this mother of three. “I’ve moved to Shawnee Elementary in the Shawnee Mission School District, where I became Reading Specialist. I teach reading interventions for K-6th grade; however, I specialize in data decisions and analysis with K-1st students.

     “I was a first grade teacher at Title I school Pawnee Elementary. I’m proud to have been involved in the many great things that are happening in this location.

     “I was nominated for 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year by the Shawnee Mission School District, and in September, I was named a Regional Semi-Finalist. I am very excited to join KEEN (the Kansas Exemplary Educator Network) and I am looking forward to opportunities for leadership around Kansas education.”

Saint Mary Memories?

     “I am thankful that I had instructors that were current teachers. I knew learning was current and would immediately benefit me in the classroom.”