THE DUHAWK DOZEN CLASS OF 2023

 

LATEST PODCASTS:

 

JANUARY

Fr. Charles Warren ('14)
Media Studies 
Woodstock, Illinois

A Lifelong Storyteller

   

Since graduating in 2014, Fr. Charles Warren, often thinks back on just how impactful his time as a Duhawk was. “One of the biggest reasons that ‘Father’ shows up in front of my name is because of Loras College.” As Fr. Warren navigated his Loras experience, he felt his heart being called to love in a way he hadn’t considered before. There were countless faculty, staff, and classmates that helped guide Fr. Warren during his time as a student; but there were three lay classmates, outside of the seminary, that impacted Fr. Warren most through their hard work and spirituality. “I still regularly chat with some of my classmates, and we keep up with each other; I am very grateful for that.”

Reflecting on his time at Loras, Fr. Warren recalls what a formative experience working with Dr. Craig Schaefer was for him. “It changed the way I saw the world,” Fr. Warren started. “I started to see how to better tell stories and walk with individuals in their stories.” Outside of the classroom, Fr. Warren was a reporter on Loras College Television (LCTV), now DuMedia, and was able to come out of his shell through his reporting. “I am a quiet guy, but it was great to be a part of a community that showed me I had something to contribute by using my voice and telling stories.” This storytelling skill set was something that carried over to his life in the priesthood. Whether it be in his daily life at Marian Central Catholic High School, or in his Homilies at Mass, he can find stories that resonate with his entire audience. In his first Homily at St. Rita Parish, Fr. Warren recalled his first time Reposing the Eucharist following adoration. What started as a funny anecdote of his experience, ended with a powerful message: “God will always still love you.” That ability to transcend an everyday story and create a life lesson is something that started in Hoffman Hall. “I am really grateful for all the faculty in the Media Studies program that helped me become a storyteller.”

After being with a parish for two years, Fr. Warren joined the Marian Central Catholic staff as a teacher and Spiritual Director and fully admits that high school is much different than the real world. “I have only been a priest for 3 years,” Fr. Warren started. “A part of that process is learning new things and adapting – and the High School students are in the same position. The conversations are different every day, but so intentional.” While balancing attendance at late-night games and choral performances as well as conversations with students about where they belong in the world; Fr. Warren goes back to his friends from Loras for advice. “I ask some of my classmates for their advice so I can best help my students and that they know they are loved and respected.”

Fr. Warren truly embodies the Loras Dispositions in all that he does. His ability to engage with the youth and help them develop in mind and spirit are what makes him this month’s Duhawk Dozen.

 

   

FEBRUARY

Adrienne Shavers ('14)
Sociology & Social Work
Lincoln, Nebraska

 

Empowering Change

2014 graduate, Adrienne Shavers is revered by her friends and classmates for how closely she helps students and the lengths she’s willing to go to make a connection. However, with great humility, Adrienne admits that it’s a mutually impactful relationship. “I had no clue that the students I work with were going to help me more than I would ever be able to help them.”

Though over the years, she has found great success in higher education, it wasn’t something she had always envisioned. “I didn’t know my career would be in higher education, but I am so glad that I had all of the resources and connections that helped me down this path.” Adrienne had countless people in her corner throughout her college career that kept her pushing through some of the more difficult times. Early at Loras, Adrienne had a conversation with her mom about transferring. With great advice, her mom encouraged her to stay and to try getting even more involved than before. “I started getting involved with Residence Life and started going to programs,” Adrienne started. “Then I was hired as a resident advisor, and I knew that I wanted to continue working within student affairs.” From there, faculty and staff like her Hall Director Anthony Davis, and professor of Sociology Lisa Garoutte, helped her find her home away from home at Loras. “I was a first-generation student, so I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Adrienne started. “That whole experience helped me want to make the world better for future generations and students.”

After graduating, Adrienne was confident she wanted to continue in higher education, but she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to continue at a large or small institution. “This wasn’t what I had dreamed of,” Adrienne started, “so I needed to find what I really wanted.” That search led her to Oakland University, in Michigan, where she was able to experience new cultures and new world views. “I wanted to cultivate new experiences to find where my right fit would be.” Adrienne was quick to point out that it was her small-school experience that showed her just how connected a college community could be. “I knew all my professors and they knew whether or not I was in class,” Adrienne said. “I want to bring that to every institution that I work at.”

In addition to a love of helping others; diversity, equity, and inclusion have become cornerstones of Adrienne’s career and education. “I wanted to create positive change within higher education by working with diverse students.” Adrienne understands that no one has the same experience, especially when it comes to college. In her time as a resident advisor and as a professional, allowing people to feel seen in their individual experiences has become her focal point. “I utilize my voice and advocate with my students by elevating their voices.” Not only does Adrienne help create a space for change by empowering her students, but she teaches important skills to help students in their futures as well.

Adrienne truly embodies the Loras Dispositions in all that she does. Her ability to advocate and support students with a wide array of backgrounds is what makes her February’s Duhawk Dozen.

 

 

MARCH

Bailey O'Brien ('16)
Biological Research
Cascade, Iowa

 

Heart of Purple & Gold

A 2016 graduate, Bailey O’Brien has achieved a great deal of personal and professional success in her short time since graduating. Not only does she own her own dental practice, but she spends her spare time serving as a Loras Alumni Ambassador, and mentor for current Duhawks in the healthcare field, on top of staying connected with her past roommates, classmates, and friends.

Bailey’s father, Tom O’Brien (’82), and cousin, Regan Takes (’15) attended Loras, and she grew up in Cascade, Iowa, so Loras was always at the forefront of her mind. However, she wasn’t sure until later in high school that Loras was the right fit for her college search. “I can tend to be indecisive,” she started, “but I knew I wanted to go somewhere with a great science program and after visiting Loras, I knew it was the perfect school for me.” Right away, it was the supportive faculty and staff that solidified her choice. Dr. Kate Cooper, professor of Biology, was one of the great influences during Bailey’s time at Loras. “I had done my research project with her, and her door was always open for anything that I needed help with.” In addition to her success in the classroom, she kept herself busy as a supplemental instructor, peer assistant, and employee in Mercy’s Emergency Department, and stayed involved in many extracurricular activities like Dance Marathon, now called DuThon. “We dedicated so much time to making a difference with Children’s Miracle Network, and I got to meet countless friends: it was an amazing experience to be a part of.”

While she had many rewarding on-campus experiences, Bailey also had the opportunity to travel to Honduras and China as part of travel courses and service work. “Those experiences and the people I got to go with really shaped me to be a better person,” she started. “Yes, you need the good grades but the experiences outside of the classroom set you apart from other applicants going into grad school or the workforce.”

Throughout her time at Loras, she needed to decide what track she’d like to pursue when it came time to go to graduate school. “I like to be hands-on,” she started. “As I thought about the four years of dental school as well as the combination of art and science– I knew that was the field I wanted to get into.” After graduating, she attended the University of Iowa for her doctorate degree and moved back home in 2020. “I decided to join my hometown dentist, it was a great opportunity that had presented itself to me,” Bailey said. After just one year there, she purchased the practice, a huge shift from Dentist to business owner. “Looking back, I am so glad that I did it and I know it’s going to be worth it.” With the support of her family and the whole Cascade community, she knew she had an incredible support system behind her.

Bailey has stayed connected with her friends and a core group of classmates regularly. “We stay in touch all the time. We make it a priority and even if we all can’t make it to every gathering – we get to see everyone go through milestones together like weddings and having babies.” Her connection to her Duhawk friends remains so strong because of their shared Loras experiences. “It’s easy to lose touch with everything going on in everyone’s lives,” she admitted. “It’s just as easy to send a text or to pick up the phone and make a call.” By prioritizing going to Homecoming, celebrating Duhawk Day, and making it to the big life events, their group of friends haven’t missed a beat from moving off campus. “I loved my experience at Loras because of the people and culture,” she started. “So, I make sure to celebrate other big moments of my life with those same people.”

Bailey truly embodies the Loras Dispositions in all that she does. Her great successes personally and professionally, as well as her tight-knit Loras network is what makes her March’s Duhawk Dozen.

 

 

 

APRIL

Katie (Yockey) Pyles ('13)
Social Work
Sycamore, IL
Listen to podcast

Belonging & Believing

2013 graduate, Katie (Yockey) Pyles has worn many hats in her lifetime: wife, mom, student-athlete, social work major, youth minister, and Duhawk. Her faith has been the common thread tying all those aspects of her life together.

During her time at Loras, Katie was involved in many campus organizations and spiritual life. However, it wasn’t until one specific retreat that she had gone to where she truly felt called back to her faith. “Going on the Antioch retreat that Loras held really brought me back into my spirituality.” Following the retreat, she continued her spiritual growth including a service trip to McKee, Kentucky. “I was so blessed to have gone,” she started. “It taught me how to listen, and in every step since then I have tried to listen first.” It was through her service trips, and similar experiences surrounding spiritual growth, that Katie has consistently kept peoples’ belonging at the forefront of her work. “Once people feel they belong, they can start to believe.” She credits her Loras experiences provided her time as a student for her ability to show love and compassion in all that she does.

After graduating, Katie knew she wanted to help serve others, and after much prayer and discernment – she saw countless classmates serving various social groups, and she felt a calling to help others grow in their spirituality. She continued her education at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, in Ohio, where she received her Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Upon graduating, she started working as the Director of Education and Youth Ministry for Our Lady of Victory Parish, where she was able to combine her faith and love of helping others to impact countless generations of young people navigating their own faith journeys.

In 2018, Katie and her husband found out that they were expecting their third child. What started as an exciting and already emotional time, was changed when their son, Francis “Frankie,” was diagnosed with Trisomy 18. At a moment filled with uncertainty and fear, Katie recalls the impact of her community. “It was other people that kept us moving,” Katie remembers. “There were so many people from my time at Loras praying for me, taking out my garbage cans, and thinking of me – that is what made it possible to analyze what we needed to do.” Even through the hardest of times, Katie and her family were able to celebrate life, utilize resources from the people around them, and be held up by their community members. She became very vocal in her grief journey publicly and it was her openness that touched others, including fellow 2013 grad, Molly Devine who rallied in support of Katie with other Duhawks. It was the Bible, Katie recalled, being what helped her as she maneuvered a new emotional landscape. “God does not rejoice in our deaths,” she shared. “He received my son when the world was not equipped to help him live.” She didn’t downplay the sorrows and the difficulties of the time, but she understood them and accepted them with an open heart. “Clinging to my faith helped me the most during that time.”

Despite all of the trials of daily life, Katie focuses on the positive and the people that make her life so special. “I was just at a retreat for work,” she recalls. “Ironically, the woman leading the retreat was a fellow Duhawk.” Not only has she seen Duhawks “in the wild” in her life after graduation, but she recalls that it always makes her “feel like home.”

Katie truly embodies the Loras Dispositions in all that she does. Her ability to bring faith and joy to the forefront of her daily life as well as her tight-knit Loras network is what makes her April’s Duhawk Dozen.

 

MAY

Nick Satterlee ('12)
Secondary Education & History
Cary, IL
Listen to podcast

Servant Leadership 

Entering Loras, Nick Satterlee (’12) had a different idea of what his life would look like. A general business degree with the hopes of going to law school was always on his mind and during his first year he quickly learned he did not quite have the passion he desired for this particular career path.

“It was a ‘look in the mirror’ moment thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. A lot of the students I saw that were really happy and seemed excited about their major were education students. I thought and prayed about it, had a conversation with Dr. Scott Scheuerell (’95), and I decided I was going to be a teacher.”

Since then, he has never looked back. He credits much of his success to his different experiences in the classroom through the Loras College Education Program, service trips, as well as his Fulbright-Hays Scholarship program trip to Namibia. These different experiences helped him develop empathy skills that he uses as an administrator today. “Not everyone comes from the same place you do, but everyone has something you can learn from, and everyone has an experience that is valuable.” During his time as a youth minister, he even brought some of his students to the same places Loras took him to, including Appalachia and Chicago.

Loras taught Nick to keep pushing himself and those around him. He truly believes he wouldn’t have the same mindset or drive if he didn’t attend Loras. “If we do not try things that we are scared of, we are never going to grow. I see in education all the time that kids can be very scared of how they are going to do on certain projects, so they just do not try.” This mindset helped Nick apply to be a middle school principal in Waterloo, Iowa, alongside fellow Duhawk and Breitbach Catholic Thinker & Leader, Daniel Thole (’13). “Having a Duhawk and friend in that co-principal role…I think we both pushed each other to become great leaders. It was awesome going from being 21 and 22 together on campus, to actually going out into our field and making a difference.” Nick now serves as the principal at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Cary, Illinois.

“I’ve been happy going to my job every day since I have graduated from Loras and in a lot of ways, it doesn’t make it feel like work.” Nick truly embodies the Loras Dispositions in all that he does. His ability to engage with the youth and helping them learn how to be active learners at an early age are what makes him this month’s Duhawk Dozen. Listen to more of Nick’s story in this month’s podcast.

 

JUNE

Jonathan Quinn ('21)
Media Studies & Public Relations
Atlanta, GA
Listen to podcast

Jonathan Quinn (’21) knows the importance of constructing a story. As he works on creating his own life story, his education and training at Loras have helped him tell the stories of others through a reflective and forward-thinking lens. At age 23, he already has “award-winning director” on his resume and that is just the start. His Duhawk documentaries, storytelling at Forever Ready Productions, and current role at Morgan Stanley as Research and Multimedia Editor, makes him our June 2023 Duhawk Dozen.

“It’s hard to tell a good story if you can’t write, which is something that is sort of slept on. You underestimate the importance of being able to construct a story and to write and piece things together. That’s why editing is my favorite part of the whole production process. It is the physical version of writing and forming the story you want to share.”

Loras provided opportunities for Jon to write and speak his mind with his classmates in a safe environment, which opened his eyes to other people’s perspectives on the world. “When you are able to take yourself out of your own shoes and put yourself into another perspective, you may be able to tell the story with more intention and care that the story deserves.”  From his first class on campus, to his English and Media Studies classes, he attributes much of his success to his professors and fellow Duhawks. “Loras did a great job teaching me how to see people for who they are and to meet them where they are in life. Sometimes, especially when I was an RA, people just wanted to talk. Those times ended up being where some of the most enriching relationships started. Also, in Atlanta traffic these days someone cuts me off – maybe he’s just late. I try not to judge a person in the moment.”

Throughout this episode, Jon leaves multiple pieces of advice for all ages with one of them being: “Be a sponge. Ask questions. Take as much knowledge as you can and capitalize on the resources and benefits available to you. Dedicate the time to mature yourself – there’s a college version of yourself and then there’s the adult version of yourself. Take the time to figure out your values and work from there. Loras College was a great foundation for that because you are encouraged to think critically, be self-reflective, and can apply those skills to yourself.”

Listen to Jon’s full podcast with Young Alumni Advisory Board President, Allison Wong (’17), and past Duhawk Dozen recipients here.


JULY

Katie Gonzales ('14)
Sports Management & Mathematics
Springfield, IL
Listen to podcast


Photo credit: Kodiak Creative

Duhawk Connections

Katie Gonzales (’14) has built an impressive career in collegiate athletics. She has dedicated her collegiate, graduate, and profession to ensuring that the achievements and stories of student-athletes receive the recognition they deserve. These reasons and more, make her our July Duhawk Dozen recipient!

As a first-generation college student visiting Loras, Katie had her mind set on becoming a high school math teacher. It wasn’t until she sat down with her admissions counselor, Scott Stran (’99), that she knew anything about the Sports Management world. He encouraged her to talk to professor of sports management Dr. Matt Garrett, and the rest was history. Getting involved right when she stepped onto campus and having key influences set her up for success in the collegiate sports arena and early in her career.

Loras emphasizes real-world learning in each of their majors and Katie took full advantage of the opportunities the Sports Management program offered. “I have had the opportunity to intern with the Dubuque Fighting Saints Hockey Team and the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. Sometimes figuring out what I want to do is trying something and saying, ‘that was cool, but I do not want to do that long term.’ The big turning point for me was interning with the Loras Sports Information Department.” As a senior, Katie became the Assistant Director of Athletic Communication where her love for collegiate athletics continued to evolve and pushed her to Eastern Michigan University for her master’s degree in Sports Management, and eventually to Illinois Wesleyan University, where she currently serves as the Assistant Athletic Director of Athletic Communications.

Katie’s journey in collegiate athletics has been committed to supporting the student-athletes she works with. Her passion for her work is evident in the positive impact she has had at each institution she has been a part of. From her initial involvement at Loras College to her current role at Illinois Wesleyan University, Katie continues to inspire and elevate those around her. 

Listen to Katie's full podcast with Young Alumni Advisory Board President, Allison Wong (’17), and past Duhawk Dozen podcasts here.

 

AUGUST

JEANIE KASPER ('19)
Engineering (Biomedical Track)
Sligo, County Sligo, Ireland
Listen to podcast

Worldwide Duhawk

Jeanie Kasper ('19) approaches everything with an open mindset. Whether it's joining clubs, pursuing her education, or advancing in her career, she views each endeavor as an opportunity for personal growth and positive impact. "Ultimately, I chose organizations and groups [at Loras] that allowed me to engage with the community, learn new things, or enhance my skill set.” This forward-thinking approach has earned her the title of our August Duhawk Dozen recipient!

Jeanie's willingness to embrace new experiences at Loras College led her to connect with faculty and staff members who would leave a lasting imprint on her career journey. Notably, Dr. Kristen Thompson and Dr. Danial Neebel ('83) introduced her to the field of Biomedical Engineering. Jeanie’s active involvement also taught her the art of time management and prioritization as she worked diligently towards her goals of earning a NASA scholarship, graduating from Loras at the top of the class, launching her career, and pursuing further education.

Even when faced with heavy workloads, Jeanie managed to uphold her vital relationships, ensuring that personal connections remained a cornerstone of her life. “There’s always going to be a time where your manager asks you to stay late or you bring a project home to work on into the night. But, you have to look at your priorities and decide ‘is this something I need to do right now, or is it more important to have dinner with my family, spend time with friends, or make that phone call to a family member in another state?’”

Jeanie attributes her success in education and career to the strong relationships and open communication she shared with her Loras professors. “Loras was entirely the reason I was able to go to graduate school. The professors stepped up to the plate and supported my passion of pursuing Biomedical Engineering by helping me get the pre-requisites needed for grad school, even if it meant leading a class solely for me.” With this support, Jeanie graduated with her master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2020 and landed a job with Abbott in their Operations Professional Development Program.

Recently, she has been moving around the world with her husband, Jason, for her roles as a Dairy Procurement Analyst for nutrition products in Ohio, Quality Engineer for COVID-19 tests in Illinois, Production Supervisor for a pacemaker component in South Carolina, and is currently serving in her last rotation as a Business Excellence Specialist for blood testing equipment in Ireland.

Aside from her everyday job, she works to bring women in STEM together across the company with various events to raise awareness and inspire future generations to pursue a career in the STEM field. She also can add ‘contributing author’ to her resume with Abbott’s children’s book, “What Does STEM Look Like?”, a story loosely inspired by her experience working at Loras’ Heitkamp Planetarium.

Hear more from Jeanie as she talks to Young Alumni Advisory Board Communications Chair, Anna Johnson ('18), by listening to this month’s podcast.

 

SEPTEMBER

ALI (REEG) BURGMEIER ('18)

Marketing & Business Administration
Dubuque, Iowa
Listen to podcast

Home Sweet Loras

Five years ago, Ali (Reeg) Burgmeier (’18) was just starting life after Loras and maneuvering through a new career. Pushing herself out of her comfort zone as a student helped lay the groundwork for success after graduation. Being uncomfortable in the workplace and her personal life doesn’t make her afraid, but rather she sees it as a sign that she is growing and working towards her goals. Her dedication to making the communities she is a part of better than how she found them is what makes her our September 2023 Duhawk Dozen recipient.

Ali has built a life around the relationships that matter to her. From growing up in small town Bellevue, Iowa to coming to Loras and being involved with many co-curricular activities, the relationships she has formed have helped her find her callings in life, especially with her Duhawk friends. “Duhawks are such a unique group of individuals and no matter what organization you join; you meet people who stick to you post-graduation and all. You run into them in the most random places, and you get friends for life!”

Ali’s Duhawk network remained strong after college as she headed to Denver, Colorado with fiancé, now husband, John Burgmeier (’17). After a while of working remote, fellow Duhawk Celia da Silva (’19), reached out and asked Ali if she ever thought about a career in real estate, something she hadn’t really thought of until that point. “Once I started thinking how to grow my own business around people and not just houses, as well as weighing out some of the pros and cons while going part time into real estate, it just opened my eyes to a client relationship business I absolutely love.”

And she hasn’t looked back. The Burgmeier’s moved back to the Dubuque area where Ali has helped numerous Duhawks, family, friends, and clients through one of the biggest buying decisions. “My two careers didn’t really have a lot in common, but what I loved about the account management role is only stronger as a real estate agent. Working with people and being able to take things off their plate to help them through different phases of life is so rewarding.” Plus, she says Duhawks are some of her favorite clients!

Remaining one of the most-connected young alumni, Ali works hard on social media to keep up to date with her peers along with meeting face-to-face. “As we get older and further post-grad, it’s harder to reach out but don’t be afraid to make the first move. Whether it’s a text or a comment on a post, let people know you are thinking of them because it goes a lot further than you may think.”

Ali mentioned she is excited to celebrate her class’s 5-year reunion this October 6, 7, & 8! “Time does fly after graduation. It will be cool to see how our classmates are finding their rhythm and where people are landing in person, not just on social media!”

Hear more from Ali as she talks to Young Alumni Advisory Board Communications Chair, Anna Johnson ('18), by listening to this month’s podcast. Also catch her at Homecoming 2023!

 

OCTOBER

DANIEL THOLE ('13)

Secondary Education & Mathematics
Dubuque, Iowa
Listen to podcast

Leading by Faith

2013 graduate, Daniel Thole, sought a Catholic education, a strong community, and a robust math program when choosing his college. His search led him to Loras and those three factors continue to shape his life as an education leader a decade after graduating from Loras, earning him the title of our October Duhawk Dozen.

Daniel's life mantra began forming during his time at Beckman Catholic High School and further developed at Loras College. His guiding question: "How can I maximize my gifts and talents to give back to society and God? If I have a passion and ability, I should act upon it." He engaged in various activities such as being a member of the Track & Field team, writing newspaper columns, participating in the choir, campus ministry, and serving as Student Body President.

Additionally, Daniel participated in the Breitbach Catholic Thinkers and Leaders Program, guided by the motto, "What you have received as a gift, you must give as a gift." This philosophy reminds him that his talents are gifts from God and meant for a purpose. He lives this each day as the principal at Mazzuchelli Catholic Middle School, as a father, husband, and friend.

Another reason Daniel has these gifts is due to the mentors who played a major role during his Loras experience. Fr. Douglas Wathier taught him how to teach well and think critically. Dr. Hilarie Welsh encouraged Daniel to give education one more shot when he wasn’t sure if he was interested in becoming a teacher. She helped ‘stoke the fire’ in him which provided the push he needed to ultimately lead at the administrative level. Dr. Welsh still serves as a sounding board for all major life decisions for Daniel. Multiple math professors also set him for success along with the friendships made along the way. Loras introduced him to his wife, Alison (Dalton) Thole (’15), where they both were track and field athletes. Through different leadership opportunities, he also became close with Nick Satterlee (’12), our May 2023 Duhawk Dozen, where they worked together during their time as students and in their professional careers after Loras.

Thole advises young Duhawks to focus on self-improvement to succeed in a life that you want to live. “Knowing who you are will help lead you to what you are meant to do.” Learn more from Daniel by listening to his podcast interview with Neil Bingham ('17).

 

NOVEMBER

ANDY NEY ('14)

Management
Peosta, Iowa
Listen to podcast

Paramount Duhawk

Andy Ney (’14) has built an impressive career in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and it started long before graduating from Loras College. From growing up with his father and mother as strong role models as they created Paramount Ambulance, to helping mold the family business to what it is today. Andy is a life-long, active learner who continues to give back to not only Loras and the local Dubuque area, but EMS industry as a whole. All this and more makes him our November Duhawk Dozen.

Andy's decision to attend Loras was influenced by the proximity to home and a job as an EMT, as well as the opportunity to attend the same college as his twin sister, Alicia (Ney) Ludescher (’15). The faith-based environment of Loras also appealed to him having spent his whole education in the catholic school setting. With the “twins” laying the groundwork at Loras, younger sisters Christina Ney (’16) and Emily (Ney) Bruns (’18) followed their footsteps making Fall of 2014 special with all four Ney siblings on campus.

Loras College prepared Andy for his career in emergency response by offering the flexibility to attend college full-time and work as an EMT simultaneously, helping him develop a passion for helping people. That passion along with his interests in logistics and teaching has helped shaped him into the multifaceted leader and businessman he is today as the Director of Operations and as he helps lead the Paramount EMS Academy at Loras providing real-world, on-campus training for students and community members. “We wanted to develop an education program for EMS providers that was student centric. I believe the mission and values that Loras are the same we have at Paramount.” Only two cohorts into the program, he has big dreams for the program and knows Loras is the place for it to flourish.

As for the future, Andy Ney remains open to new opportunities and projects, always eager to explore what comes his way and help the community he is in. His advice to young Duhawks embarking on their careers is to focus on networking and building a strong support system, emphasizing that success often depends on collaboration and teamwork. Learn more about Andy, his Loras experience, Paramount EMS Academy, and more by listening to this month’s podcast with Allison Wong ('17). 

 

DECEMBER

TERESA (GWARDYS) GRAY ('14)

English Literature
Springfield, Illinois
Listen to podcast

Ultimate Duhawk Companion

Much like other Duhawks, Loras checked all the boxes for 2014 graduate Teresa (Gwardys) Gray and quickly became her home away from home. With the motto “Duhawks Supporting Duhawks” and faith at the forefront of all she does, the Young Alumni Advisory Board is excited to name her as our December 2023 Duhawk Dozen recipient.

 

At the core of Teresa's identity is her mission of 'Who am I in relation to Jesus Christ?' Her unwavering commitment to love and serve others reflects her belief that everyone has a role to play in spreading the message of Christ. “There are saints and then there are companions. I always joke that I want to be the companion. I don’t have to be named – I can be the background person just along for the ride. Helping others get there and be there is really my mission in life.” Her humility and dedication to helping those around her showcase the selflessness that defines her mission in life, a mission that Loras has nurtured by providing her with lifelong friends.

 

Outside of her studies and classwork, Teresa utilized co-curriculars to help use her gifts and continue to grow as a person. “All of my co-curriculars [at Loras] either involved my faith or they gave me the opportunities to grow in some type of way. Duhawks Supporting Duhawks has become my life motto, even though not everyone is a Duhawk.” One co-curricular accomplishment she is extra proud of was being named the “Intramural Athlete of the Year” three of her four years as a student and takes pride for still being on the wall in Graber.

 

Post-graduation, Teresa's path led her to FOCUS missionary work, influenced by positive Duhawk connections. Inspired by Zach ('12) and Bailey Pfundstein, Teresa became a FOCUS Missionary at the University of Illinois-Champaign, guiding students on their faith journey during their college years. Her connection to the Loras community remained strong, with fellow alumni playing a pivotal role in supporting her missionary work—a real-life #DuhawksSupportingDuhawks moment that underscores the interconnectedness of the Loras community.

 

Learn more about Teresa by listening to her podcast with Young Alumni Board President, Allison Wong (’17).