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.