Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - Aaron Struble '18 - A Purpose-Driven Life

Aaron Struble (’18) is no stranger to difficulty. At the tender age of 11, Aaron had to become an adult in order to take care of his younger brother. When most kids were spending their time watching cartoons on a Saturday morning, Aaron was worrying about how to make a better life for his sibling. He had a purpose and he had someone to fight for – two things he would continue to search for throughout his life.

In 2007, Aaron joined the military as a medic. It was the perfect fit for him. He was already accustomed to hard work, and he found deep purpose in serving others. Over time, Aaron became in charge of a $14 million facility and managed up to 35 employees and 40 civilian staff. His position gave him something to fight for – the well-being of all who were under his care.

So, when Aaron was discharged for medical retirement in 2014, he suddenly felt like he had lost his purpose - until the first-generation college student started attending Lewis University.   

“After the military, I felt like my entire purpose was taken away from me,” Aaron recalls. “It took me a couple of years to figure out what I really wanted to do – not just what degree to pursue, but the type of human being I wanted to be. Being at Lewis helped me focus on my passion, yes, but it also helped to redefine me as a person.”

When he started at Lewis, Aaron still didn’t know what career path he could pursue that would provide him with a sense of purpose and passion again. He tried multiple degrees that fell flat. But through each transition, and with the support and advice of Lewis faculty, he learned to focus not just on the career path itself or achieving a degree, but on instilling his path with a passion for serving others.

“The goal is not a career,” Aaron explains. “The goal is to serve the public and to be of service to people. Education, for me, was never about a piece of paper; it was about finding my purpose.”

And Aaron did just that. He rediscovered his sense of purpose in life through a career in human resources. As it turns out, it’s not so different than his work in the military.

“In my job, I get to be a voice for the people,” says Aaron. “I get to be the person who stands up to the bully and says that the employee deserves certain rights. It reminds me of being a soldier and saying, ‘sleep peacefully, America. We’re going to take care of it.’ I’m still a soldier – I just wear a different uniform now.

Even with a set direction and a renewed sense of hope, the journey to the graduation stage wasn’t easy. Aaron was taking classes during the day and working full-time in the evenings, while still trying to set aside time for his wife and son. There were times when he had to work overtime and, as a result, had to miss a class.

While he received tremendous support from his wife and son, the rest of his family resented him for being the first to pursue a college degree. In fact, they ceased communication with him. Thankfully, a small “army” of Lewis faculty and staff stepped in to fill the gap, as they provided constant encouragement and direction.

“When I say that the support of Lewis meant a lot to me, I’m being 100% serious,” Aaron explains. “In addition to my wife, Lewis really was my primary support.”

With his support system beside him, Aaron graduated with his degree in human resources and took a job in Washington D.C. He has a purpose and he has people to fight for – just like he did at 11 years old. When it comes to his legacy, Aaron hopes to be an example of how to be of service to others.

“I think that it’s important to remain mindful that the measure of your life is not merely about the impact you can make on those who are close to you or on those who could possibly return the favor one day,” Aaron states. “The most meaningful impact you can attempt to make is for someone who will either never be able to repay you for the impact you have made, or who will never realize it was you who made the impact.”

Friday, September 28, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - Christopher Kennedy '08

If you work for Lewis alumnus Christopher Kennedy (’08), you have probably heard him repeat this quote by author James Allen: “Whatever your present environment may be, you will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your vision, and your ideal.”

For Kennedy, the quote is a reminder of the daily choice to either remain with the status quo, or to improve and pursue something greater. As an innovator in the complex field of biotechnology and telemedicine, Kennedy daily has the choice to leave the healthcare system as it is – in many ways, elusive to patients who need help – or to pave a path for patients to receive quality care.

“A significant issue in healthcare today is that a scorecard is missing,” explains Kennedy. “As a patient, you’re not sure what inning it is or what the batting average is of the doctor that you’re working with. Performance accountability is sometimes completely missing.”

This “missing scorecard” makes it extremely difficult for patients to navigate the world of healthcare, especially patients with rare or chronic illnesses. That’s why Kennedy has made patient empowerment his goal.

As Chief Operating Officer of Heritage Biologics, Kennedy is in the business of making patient experience a measurable outcome. Heritage Biologics is, in its most basic sense, a rare disease home infusion and specialty pharmacy. But its mission is much larger. The company is constantly seeking ways to give patients a voice and connect them to the resources they need. Heritage’s RARECARE software program captures patient Quality of Life (QoL) metrics and Patient Reported Outcomes Measures (PROMs) that provide valuable insights into a patient’s journey. RARECARE also allows patients to rate their actual service experience, which helps to keep healthcare providers accountable and show them how they can improve.

A quick search of recent patient experience data will populate with countless messages that exemplify how Heritage Biologics is making a difference. “The pharmacist changed my world with the information they gave me,” says one patient. Another writes: “I can’t wait to see to see my nurse again; I look forward to it each week.”

While patient experiences at Heritage Biologics are filled with positive interactions, it is not the norm for the wider healthcare system. There is no better example of this than when Kennedy himself visited a patient in the hospital. While Kennedy sat in the room, an ER doctor told the patient that he couldn’t be admitted because his chronic condition was too much of a liability. The doctor then sent the patient away with painkillers.

The disheartening scene remains a strong reminder for Kennedy that his work is needed. Of course, Kennedy’s work goes far beyond Heritage Biologics. He is also the creator of HemoMD, an on-demand virtual care platform that enables patients with hemophilia, a rare blood disorder, to connect with specialists. Many patients only have access to a specialist physician one time a year. If the patient has an emergency, it is likely that the ER doctor has not had any interaction with hemophilia since their medical school days. HemoMD enables these doctors to gain peer-to-peer support from specialists experienced in treating the disease.

The American Telemedicine Association honored Kennedy for his work on HemoMD with the President’s Award for Innovation in Remote Healthcare, which recognizes important advances in the field of telemedicine. But Kennedy is only just getting started. His goal is to begin providing similar services for other rare disorders nationwide.

“The only way that we are going to defeat the current business approach to healthcare is through patient-centric solutions that deliver measurable outcomes,” Kennedy says. “No one holds healthcare more accountable than patients themselves. We need to empower patients and help them become more informed healthcare consumers. When consumers demand more for their dollar, the market will ultimately listen. Just ask Amazon and their current star ranking system for products. Patients deserve this type of model in healthcare too.”

Kennedy attributes Lewis for being an important stepping stone along his journey. As a student in the Master of Science in Management program and the Executive Leadership Certificate, Kennedy gained comprehensive and applicable information that he was able to implement in the workplace immediately. Throughout the program, Father Kevin Spiess provided strong mentorship and encouraged Kennedy to commit himself to learning something outside of the classroom. Kennedy took the advice to heart and began to learn web design, which later enabled him to create his own websites.

Where some see healthcare as a business to bring in profit, Kennedy sees it as a system that should be bent on helping patients have the best experience possible. Through his work at Heritage Biologics and HemoMD, he is part of a value-based healthcare discussion that is changing healthcare for the better. Kennedy is one of many Lewis alumni impacting their communities through their talents and passion. As author James Allen said, “You will fall, remain, or rise with your thoughts, your vision, and your ideal.”  

Friday, September 14, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - Erin Reichert '05 - The "Mom" of Bluffton High

Erin Reichert receives the Milken Educator Award at a surprise assembly, surrounded by her students.

When Bluffton High students in South Carolina were asked which teacher they would most likely refer to as “mom,” there was little debate that it would be Mrs. Reichert. It comes as no surprise when you hear about the unique and personal ways in which Erin (Clemmons) Reichert (’05) connects with her students and inspires a passion for learning. In fact, Reichert’s teaching philosophy has not only won the affection of her students, but has also earned her the Milken Educator Award – referred to by many as the “Oscar” of teaching.

Nevertheless, Reichert will be the first to tell you that this was never part of her plan. “You never know what your story is going to be,” Reichert says. “I thought I was going to be a lifer in Chicago. But my journey came from out of the blue.”

Reichert grew up in Illinois and planned to stay there for her entire life. She started her teaching career in Chicago, where she learned from an incredible teaching staff. For her, it was truly a dream job. Right after she finished her bachelor’s degree, she went to Lewis University for her master’s degree in school counseling. But halfway through the program, she started wondering if she even wanted to do school counseling. As God would have it, it is a degree that she uses daily in her teaching and interactions with her students – including her very first day of teaching: September 11, 2001.

“What I learned at Lewis makes me think of my students in a different way, using counseling skills to incorporate ease into their minds,” Reichert explains. “It led to the person I am in the school – not just a content teacher, but someone who can relate to them differently and talk to them about college, goals, and life. They know that I am going to focus on them as a person and that I care more about their character and living up to their potential than their specific grades."

Reichert’s plan also took a turn when she married and moved with her husband to South Carolina. She left her dream job and moved to a new state where she, in the beginning, felt out of place. She really struggled – until she stopped wishing she was in Chicago and realized that her own “transplant” helped her to better relate to her students, many of whom had moved from other states themselves or, in some way, felt out of place in their lives.

Through life’s twists and turns, Reichert ultimately held on to what she learned at Lewis. She takes the time to instill in her students a confidence in themselves. Sometimes they don’t see their own potential, so she helps them to see it. In her history classes, and the Youth and Government program she spearheads, she gets her students genuinely excited to learn and actively engaged – not only in the classroom, but also in the community. Many of her students have gone on to work in government or become active community members and citizens. Many students have come back to her to tell her that she is the reason they are who they are. For Reichert, that’s what teaching is all about. While she boasts an impressive list of learning opportunities and programs for her students, at the end of the day, her approach towards her students as unique individuals is what made her the “mom” of Bluffton High.

And Reichert’s approach was noticed by more than just her students. In 2018, she received the Milken Educator Award during a surprise assembly in her honor. The prestigious award, which includes a gift of $25,000, is given to early-to-mid career education professionals who display excellence in education and promise for the future. Currently, an American Educator Museum is being built which faces the White House and will display Milken Award winners, Reichert included.

Reichert was shocked when she learned she was a recipient of the award. But, in her typical fashion, she acknowledged that the award was about her students, not her. From receiving a student-centered Lewis education to becoming a truly student-centered educator, Reichert daily lives out the Lewis mission to transform the lives of her students through inclusive community, quality education, and a respect for the dignity of each individual. In other words, Reichert truly is the “mom” of Bluffton High.

Click here to watch the video of Reichert receiving the Milken Educator Award.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - Darian Blanks '17 - One Step at a Time

In the seven days leading up to his retirement from the United States Air Force, what should have been a time characterized by optimism and excitement for the future, Darian Blanks (’17) woke up in a hospital bed, having suffered a terrible crash that would eventually lead to him being told he would never walk again.

Darian was on his motorcycle in 2010 when he was hit by a 19 year-old drunk driver. The traumatic accident left his spine severely injured. Eight months later, he went in for a major surgery, but due to an issue during the procedure, was told he would never regain the use of his legs. Despite the diagnosis, Darian refused to believe the doctor’s words. In fact, he flat out rejected them.

I knew I was going to find a way to walk again,” Darian recalls. “I grew up in a military and police family who taught me to fight through it. And I wanted to teach my son that no matter how much you struggle, you can fight through the difficulties and come out stronger.”

Because of his relentless optimism, through a total of 16 spinal surgeries and over two years of treatment, Darian did exactly what he said he would: he walked. He walked for his son. He walked for his fellow brothers in arms. He walked because he knew he still had important work left to do. After losing a veteran brother to suicide, Darian realized that he would never be content sitting behind a computer while his brothers were struggling. So he began studying social work at Lewis University.

Over the course of his two years, he would often go to classes in a wheelchair or on crutches, still working through treatment for his spinal injury. And as a single father in the middle of a custody battle for his son, Darian would drive halfway across the state every other weekend – all while working full-time trying to provide for his family. Through it all, he continuously received support from social work professors at Lewis, who spent hours with him in their offices. He would often receive calls from his professors in the evening, checking to see how he was doing.

“My professors made me believe in my own potential,” Darian says. “They were like family to me, and they even told me I could go on to an Ivy League school.”

But when Darian realized that he had run out of his veteran Post-9/11 benefits, while still working to pay for his medical bills and provide for his son, he was unsure of how he would be able to continue his studies. That’s when Lewis awarded him the Trailblazer Scholarship. The scholarship allowed Darian to not only finish his degree, but make an impact at Lewis – and show his son anything is possible.

While at Lewis, Darian became the President of Student Veterans of America as well as the Social Work Association, which he grew from 6 members to over 75 members. He got students exposed to different areas of social work, fundraised for a variety of causes, was active in community outreach, and took students to Springfield for advocacy days.

Darian’s optimism, and the support of his Lewis family, made it possible to fight through the difficulties and come out stronger, just as he was taught by his family. It also paved the way for him to make an impact for fellow veterans and countless individuals struggling with mental health issues.

Darian is now completing his master’s degree in social work at Columbia University in New York, focusing on substance abuse issues, mental health, and policy – which will allow him to have an impact on veterans on a macro scale. He works as a research intern, studying to what degree mental health and substance abuse affects homelessness in previously incarcerated African American women. Darian is also in the process of applying for a number of Ph.D. programs.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - Megan Zeugner '15 Is On A Mission

Sometimes you find your calling at a young age.

“Combining my love for teaching with my love to travel and my heart for mission is what brought me to my current position as a volunteer missionary teacher in Cairo, Egypt,” says Megan Zeugner ’15, Elementary Education.

It is true what they say: you never know where life will take you. For Megan, her journey began in Joliet and led her to Cairo. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher and she wanted to travel, and throughout college went on many mission trips.

“I love my work inside the classroom, but the best moments are sometimes those spent outside the classroom where students are more themselves and can feel freer to share more personal aspects of their own journey of growing up. I love being able to impact the lives of the students who attend St. Clare's College.”

During her time at St. Clare’s College in Cairo, Megan has had great success teaching students English and many other skills. Megan is motivated by her ability to impact the education system in Egypt and motivate and teach young women in the Middle East that they “have a voice and can influence change”.

One particular moment will stick with her forever. A little girl who was not able to come to school because the buses were not running in her area sent Megan a voice message about the upcoming prince/princess themed day, speaking in near-perfect English. “Hello, Ms. Megan, I love you because I missed you and I dreamed of you, but I will come for the princess day and I will be so happy to come.”

The message melted Megan’s heart. “It was a special moment of pride for me to more fully understand how my teaching at the school was truly having an impact on the lives of my students.”

Megan’s advice to others is an echo from St. Pope John Paul II: “Do not be afraid”, she says. “Had I been afraid or listened to the fears of others, I would not be teaching in the Middle East, I would not have had the experiences and adventures I have had in my life, and I would not be the young woman I am today.” Her advice to fellow educators is reminiscent of St. John Bosco: “Education is a matter of the heart. Don’t forget this, as it makes all the difference!”

Working in the Middle East comes with its challenges. For Megan, the most difficult aspect of her job is the language and cultural barriers with the other teachers she works with. She is still working on her Arabic and teaching other educators how to adapt to the Salesian style of education. (The Salesian Sisters are who run the school.) However, her reliance on Christ, as well as the Sisters she works with and the students and families she is serving, get her through the toughest of days. At the end of the day Megan knows that “I am truly making a difference in the life of another person”.
During her time at Lewis, Megan got involved in many groups on campus. She was a member and board member of the Gospel choir and liturgical dance team as well as member and board member of Students for Life. She was also involved in campus ministry, teachers of tomorrow and participated in events such as student chef’s cook-off, social justice pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and other fundraisers.

Megan obtained her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Education with concentrations in Mathematics, Language Arts, and Social Sciences. Every class of Megan’s prepared her to be the educator she is today. She feels she is “able to use that preparation to help the school raise their level of education for the students and help the other teachers become better more successful teachers so they can work together to build up more successful well-educated young women who can impact their society in the future”.  All professors in the College of Education, as well as the former dean, Dr. Pamela Jessee, also impacted her greatly and prepared her for the road ahead of her. According to Megan “They really formed me into the best teacher they could, and I’m not sure I would be where I am today, without God and them.”

If you would like more information on the work Megan is doing and would like to get involved and volunteer (even if you aren’t an educator), you can contact Megan at or Volunteers are welcome to join her Cairo, Egypt!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - David Kelnhofer and Clif Kelly

David Kelnhofer ‘09 loved volleyball and knew he wanted to get into finance – and it was a connection with alumnus Clif Kelly ’78 during a trip to California for a game that ultimately paved the path for this men’s volleyball player to begin a career in Private Wealth Management.

“Coach Dan Friend told me about an alum who lives in California and followed the Lewis men’s volleyball, who’d be coming to the game. Clif Kelly was a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to network with an alum who has experience in the field. After the game, I asked Dan to point him out to me for a conversation. A few months later, Clif assisted me in securing an internship at Merrill Lynch in Milwaukee, where I was living. I loved it, and it solidified for me exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated. Clif and I have continued to stay in touch, and I am so grateful for his guidance in my early career.”

A true mission moment of an alumnus positively changing the life of Lewis students!

David was being heavily recruited during high school for men’s volleyball. An All-American, he had a choice of colleges to attend – but it wasn’t ultimately just volleyball that played into his decision to come to Lewis.

“Lewis had a phenomenal men’s volleyball program and was close to Chicago. I wanted to stay close to home, and I wanted a school that wasn’t huge. It really came down to Loyola, Lewis, and Ohio State. I really focused on where I could do well academically, and I had a good connection with Dan and liked the College of Business. It felt more at home than being in downtown Chicago,” explains David.

David earned his undergraduate degree from Lewis, and continued on for his M.B.A. During that time, he lived in Willowbrook and worked part-time for a credit union, then graduated, moved to Milwaukee, and started working at Robert W. Baird.

“It’s an investment firm like Wells Fargo, but slightly smaller. We are working to expand. It’s a great company, headquartered in Milwaukee. I work in private wealth management and financial advising. Basically, helping everyday people plan for retirement. I love talking with clients, hearing how they built their wealth. It’s like putting together a puzzle – you’re taking all these little puzzle pieces and fitting them together to help your client see the bigger picture.”

Learning from the knowledge Clif imparted on him, David really dove into the industry head first and encourages future graduates to do the same.

“Find someone to network within the industry you’re looking at. I remember when I was trying to find a job, the market wasn’t favorable. I was willing to empty garbage cans just to get my foot in the door. Last year, my intern was offered many jobs and was able to consider this may be the path for his future career. I was glad that I could be a mentor toward his career goals. It’s hard to know what you want to do at that age. I was lucky that my parents guided me to that direction, and I was lucky to find someone like Cliff to network with.”

Alumni have a great deal to offer students, other alumni, and others in the workplace. From speaking on experience to opening career doors, networking can be a powerful tool. #LewisUAlumniWhoCare

Friday, August 17, 2018

Lewis Mission Moment - Tony Lyen '14 - More Than Work

Tony Lyen, alumnus

“When I wake up in the morning, I’m excited to get to St. Daniel The Prophet School in Chicago. It’s not work; it’s a new experience everyday. I love being with the kids, talking with them, working with them. Just knowing that when they come to me looking for help, I can get them to where they need to be to be successful. When I go home and know I made a difference in helping a student out, that’s the best feeling in the world.” 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - Will Riley '18 - The Future Starts With Us

Will is an Aviation major, President of the Student Senate, and an Illinois Student Laureate. While his academic achievements are plenty, those aren’t the only qualities that make Lewis University proud to have him as a student – and in December, an alumnus.

I believe that God has put me on the earth for more than just to have a successful career in aviation administration. I believe I am supposed to give back to my community as well. As I drive down the street of my neighborhood, I wonder if I can help change it for the better. Lewis University has reaffirmed my commitment and trust in God to know that I can, whether mentoring the young or helping the elderly. I believe we all have a place in which to give back to our community. I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn, and to be a part of something bigger.”

When Will was only six-years-old, he went on a plane ride with a Tuskegee airman. From that day forward he fell in love with aviation. It’s not his only passion though – Will is committed to paving a path for the next generation of college students.

“I grew up in a neighborhood where most people don’t get college degrees,” Riley said. “My education has changed my life and it is my goal to be a mentor to children in my neighborhood and help them follow their dreams.”

Will is following the guidance of St. John Baptist De La Salle, who said: “Follow the inspirations that come to you from God.” (Letter 86 - to an unnamed Brother, date unknown).

Read more about Will or watch his story on YouTube.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments: Welcome Home Carley

“All that I hope to be, the Lewis community has inspired in me: passion for service, advocacy for justice, love of community, and an undying excitement for learning."

At the age of 17, Carley Maupin (’19) stepped foot onto the Lewis campus for the first time. A compassionate girl with a dream – and an unmistakable competitive edge – she had a number of universities she could have chosen, but the moment she came to Lewis, she felt at home.

Even though Carley knew she was in the right place, she didn’t fully understand what Lewis was all about until she became a student and an active member of the Lewis community.

“Each year I see myself as a LaSallian even more,” Carley explains. “My professors have helped me to see that I can do bigger things at a larger scale if I push myself and face the challenges ahead.”

Doing “bigger things” while living out the LaSallian mission is exactly what Carley has been doing. Carley is working towards identifying treatments that will benefit those who have been victim to sexual violence. Through her current internship as a Student Researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, she is researching the relationship between sexual violence and a person’s wellness over time. Essentially, she is trying to predict how individuals who have experienced sexual violence may react to different interventions. Carly’s unique experience will have a ripple effect on countless lives.

Carley is confident: “We can make the world a better place,” she states. But she knows that she isn’t doing it alone.

“I’m able to have opportunities at Lewis such as this internship because of the generosity of others,” the soon-to-be-college-senior says. “I’m very humbled and grateful for the opportunities donors have made possible.” Because someone believed in her enough to grant her a scholarship, Carley is doing big things, with dreams of continuing on to graduate school, becoming a LaSallian volunteer, or joining the Peace Corps. Her future is bright and open – and she fully intends to pay it back.

“At some point in my life, I’m going to be one of them,” Carley says, referring to the donors who helped her.

No matter where Carley goes to make an impact, she will remember Lewis as “home.”  Students who care, turn into alumni who care. Good Luck in all your research and living out the Lasallian mission, Carley!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - The Journey to Graduation

At Lewis, we see many faces cross the stage at commencement, each of them with a special story about how they arrived at this day.

In December 2017, we met Suzette Foscett. Suzette’s journey culminated in the center of that brightly lit stage as thousands of faces watched from the floor. To most, she is just another graduate. To her family, she is a role model. To Lewis, she is the inspiration for students of any age who dream of completing their degree – no matter how long it takes.

Suzette’s graduation was a long-time dream. Her daughter and her granddaughter – who were Lewis graduates already – were on hand to celebrate the occasion, along with other members of their family. And celebrate they did! Suzette’s guests said that she has sacrificed throughout her life to make sure her children were taken care of and educated. They were beyond excited to see her achieving her own dreams of an education as well.

Suzette, through smiles and maybe a few tears, noted that even though she’s 64, she’s thrilled to be a college graduate herself.

“I did it, and I’m so glad! I’ve always wanted to do this, but my children’s needs came first, as they should,” said Suzette. “But now it’s my turn, and I just cannot thank everyone enough for their encouragement and support towards this day!”

In the words of St. John Baptist De La Salle: “Preach by example, and practice before the eyes of the young what you wish them to accept.” (Med 99.2 - on the life of St John Chrysostom) 

Congratulations, Suzette, and thank you for being an example for others.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments - A Lifetime of Memories

Sita Patel, student

"I am truly honored and grateful to be the recipient of the Livingston Family Endowment for Study Abroad Scholarship for my semester abroad in Spain this past spring. The generosity of donors in providing this scholarship has given me the amazing opportunity to enhance my educational and cultural experience abroad. On a personal note, I am the last in my family to attend college, and as the youngest of three children, I hope to make my parents proud as their last child walks across the stage in two and a half years. My experience at Lewis so far has been filled with many joyous memories and unique opportunities. I took U.S.-Latino Literature my second semester of freshman year, and the course taught me a lot about the Latinos in the Western Hemisphere. It prompted me to want to study abroad in Spain to learn about the Spanish history in the Eastern Hemisphere. After I graduate from Lewis, I am hoping to teach Spanish in a high school setting in the state of Illinois. The experience was amazing, and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have experienced another culture and country to enhance my education."

Want to see more photos and read about Sita's educational adventure? Visit



Friday, July 6, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments: Lauren Grady '16 - "Find Your Passion"

“My greatest piece of advice is to find your passion and go after it,” says Lauren Grady '16. “Don’t let self-doubt get in the way of what you’re meant to do. Believe in yourself and use your God-given talents to positively affect those around you.”

Lauren Grady is the type of person whose passion for helping others is evident in everything she does – and she certainly does a lot. As a Lewis student, Lauren could be seen constantly bouncing from one activity to the other. What made her truly stand out, however, was not the amount of activities she was involved in, but the dedication and compassion behind them.

Even though Lauren was extremely active at Lewis, it still took her time, and a few tries, to find her ultimate passion. When Lauren first stepped foot on campus, she was determined to be a teacher. However, that changed quickly after joining the school newspaper, the Lewis Flyer, where she fell in love with to journalism and switched her major. After spending a year with the school newspaper, Lauren decided to give something else a try. She landed on a major in international business with a minor in marketing and Spanish.

In addition to exploring her newfound major, Lauren made lifelong friends through her love of soccer. She was a star soccer player throughout her four years and was even joined by her younger sister Kelly on the soccer team. Even in the midst of the busyness, Lauren still managed to handle her schedule and help those around her. “I learned to find a balance between having fun and being in school,” Lauren says. It allowed me to focus on what's most important.” 

Because of her passion for helping others, Lauren got involved with peer ministry. As a peer minister, she was able to connect with others and make them feel welcome. 

“The community was incredibly supportive,” she recalls. “They make you feel important, like you’re the right person for the job”. Throughout her years, and her changes, Lewis was there for her and its mission is what led her to be the positive leader she is today.

Last June, Lauren was appointed District Manager of Aldi in Woodridge, IL. For a year prior, Lauren traveled from state to state and district to district, learning about her company and about how to manage her own district. This position at Aldi has allowed Lauren to show her leadership skills – skills that were started on Lewis’ campus.

Reflecting on her journey, Lauren says, “Being thrown lots of responsibility right out of school was really nice. It gave me the opportunity to make hard decisions – and to do what’s right, rather than just what’s easier.”

At the end of the day, Lauren’s goal is to be a positive leader – and to develop the people around her.

Her vast experiences at Lewis got her to where she is now, but it was Lewis’ mission and passion for people that shaped her to be the leader she is. 

Written by Montana Clasby '16, Advancement Communications Graduate Assistant

Friday, June 29, 2018

Lewis Mission Moments: Women in Aviation - Strengthening the Path

From a sky-high sight-seeing tour of Niagra Falls to dark clouds rolling in, two of Lewis' female aviators took to the skies to put their talents to the test.

Those two pilots are Jane Zieba and Megan Shaffer, who recently competed in the Air Race Classic against many other female pilots. It was a stormy ride for the Lewis University Air Race Classic Team, but 2,659 miles later they made it to the finish line in Fryeburg, Maine!

Out of approximately 609,306 pilots in the United States, only 42,694 are women (according to FAA's Aeronautical Center). That's a pretty significant imbalance, but the solution to diversifying aviation continues with the awareness, education, and opportunities available to young women like Jane and Megan. Opportunities that Lewis is proud to provide!

On the Lewis University Air Race Classic Team Facebook page, the women shared snippets of their adventure, including the incredible opportunity to meet a pioneer of females in aviation.

“Today was a very busy day for Team 50! Our official race briefings began and we got to meet a member of the group called Mercury 13. Her name is Gene Nora Jessen. The Mercury 13 were the first group of American women pilots to undergo tests to show that women are fit to be astronauts. A true trailblazer. She also authored the book Sky Girls which is about the very first all-female air race known as the Women's Air Derby that took place in 1929 that featured racers such as Amelia Earhart. This race transformed over time into the Air Race Classic that we are competing in. She signed and gifted a book to each racer. (We are very excited to read them). After that, we attended the Race Start Banquet where we heard from, Nell, a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) veteran. WASP was a group that flew military aircraft around the country for many purposes such as ferrying and training to help the WWII effort. The WASP training took place at Avenger field. The same airfield where we will be starting our race! At that point in time women flying those planes were unheard of, but they helped prove women were more than capable. Meeting and hearing these real life heroes and their stories reminded us just how lucky we are to be doing the thing we all love so deeply: FLY!”

In an industry dominated by men, these women are continuing the trend of a steady increase in females in aviation over the last two decades. It isn’t just the flight experience that makes an impact for these pilots, however – it’s the transformative experience of the opportunity to compete against, network with, and meet other extraordinary female aviators while beginning a career they truly love.


Great job representing #LewisU, Team Lewis Flyers, and we look forward to seeing what you accomplish in your careers!

Written by Allie Rios, Director of Advancement Communications