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Mother McAuley students get advice from alumnae about their career paths

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Photo by Kelly White

Mother McAuley High School senior Christina Sweiss, of Oak Lawn, (at left) who will be attending Loyola University, talks with McAuley and Loyola Medical School graduate Emelie Ilarde MD, family medicine specialist at Lawn Medical Center in Oak Lawn, on Friday at McAuley’s Career Day.

By Kelly White

Mother McAuley High School graduates have gone on to achieve great accomplishments.

State Rep. Fran Hurley (D-35th) is a 1978 graduate of Mother McAuley. Diane Callaghan Husar, a 1985 graduate, founded Gigi’s Playhouse in Tinley Park. And Jane Quinlan, a 1974 graduate, is the village clerk for Oak Lawn.

However, their achievements reach beyond the local range as McAuley alums are also accomplished leaders, scholars, CEOs, presidents, and entrepreneurs in the field of medicine, politics, aerospace, law, education, technology, the arts, science, engineering, architecture, culinary arts, aviation and more.

McAuley students were able to learn about career paths that former students had taken at the school’s annual Career Day on Friday at the school, 3737 W. 99th St., Chicago.

“Career day highlights many alumnae while helping to inspire the next generation of McAuley graduates,” said Moira Howorth Daley, a 1975 McAuley graduate and interior designer and owner of Moira Daley Design.

The day provided opportunity for students to learn about career paths and to get advice from experienced professionals. It gave alumnae the chance to give back to their alma mater by speaking about their passions and talents with future graduates.

Inspired by the women leaders at McAuley and those in her own family, Christina Sweiss was excited to be one of the students in attendance.

“This is exposure that I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else,” said Sweiss, 17, of Oak Lawn.

As a senior at McAuley, Sweiss will soon be attending Loyola University and studying neuroscience. On Career Day, she was coincidently able to speak with McAuley and Loyola University Medical School graduate Emelie Ilarde, MD, who specializes in family medicine at Lawn Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

“It’s wonderful being able to impact young women and discuss with them careers and learning about what is important to them and their futures,” Ilarde said.

Alumnae in attendance agreed with Ilarde, including Quinlan, whose daughter, Colleen White, followed in her footsteps and attended the high school as well. White now works as a McAuley physical education teacher and an assistant volleyball coach. Her own daughter, Grace White, is a freshman.

“There’s nothing better than McAuley,” Quinlan said. “It sets your roots and provides you with a lifelong education.”

Career Day was open to students in all grade levels, ranging from freshmen to seniors. Each grade level was assigned a time during the day to meet with alumnae, and students found it beneficial, including McAuley senior Nicole Hozzian, who aspires to become a medical illustrator. Her calling came after she lost her father to non-Hodgkin lymphoma when she was 12.

“Ever since then, I wanted to know more; I wanted to explore and understand the medical world in every way I can,” said Hozzian, 18, of Palos Hills.

As a medical illustrator, Hozzian hopes to create illustrations for textbooks. Her work has already begun as her work portraying the human heart was selected for the Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Art from the Heart exhibit in February.

Career Day also inspired students options that may be able to them they might not have considered before. It is also extremely popular with the alumnae and teachers, who enjoy the chance to catch up with one another, the McAuley staff said.

“It’s wonderful to be back here,” said Hurley, “McAuley is a great school that provides an exceptional education.”

More than 60 alumnae attended to talk about their chosen career paths. They were contacted by the school directly. The event was also posted on the school’s social media pages.

“Coming from the business world, I think this is such a great opportunity to connect students with alumnae and to teach them about networking,” said Mary Acker Klingenberger, president of Mother McAuley.

The day began with a brief presentation and breakfast for alumnae attendees, then a career fair for students.

At the fair, students were able to visit alumnae at their tables and had the opportunity to ask questions about their respective careers. Students were sent participant bios and sample questions prior to the event.

Additionally, teachers spent time in class pointing out participants whose careers are relevant to their subject area, and helped to direct students who may have expressed interest in certain areas, to visit specific alumnae.

“As students, McAuley girls come to understand and embrace their role as lifelong learners and leaders,”said Jennifer Ligda Busk, director of marketing and communications at Mother McAuley. “Career Day allows current students to connect with alumnae and hear firsthand about how the lifetime advantage of a Mother McAuley education helped paved the way for their career choice and success.”

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