Alumna Award Winners
Sr. Joel Jacobi - 2015 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
Born 98 years ago in Belleville,
Illinois, Sister Joel Jacobi professed First Vows with the Hospital Sisters of
St. Francis on October 4, 1938. She graduated from St. John’s Hospital School
of Nursing in 1941. For nearly 15 years, Sister Joel worked as a staff nurse
providing direct patient care and later in a supervisory capacity. After
obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Louis University (1955) and a
master’s degree in nursing from The Catholic University of America (1959), she
assumed the role of nurse educator. She taught at St. John’s Hospital School of
Nursing, Marillac College (St. Louis), and the University of Wisconsin-eau
Claire for the next 40 years. As a teacher, Sister Joel reminded her students
to “think of patients not simply as a room number but more importantly as a
person created in God’s image.” Furthermore, her advice to students and people
in general was to be compassionate and competent while caring for one’s
physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.” Following the example of St. Francis
of Assisi, Sister Joel and several other Sisters began to feed the poor in Eau
Claire in 1979 with excess food from Sacred Heart Hospital. This ministry’s
humble beginnings from the Sisters’ convent garage expanded into St. Francis Food
Pantry, an organization that serves nearly 600 families per week and is
supported by various local individuals and organizations. Sister Joel resides
at St. Francis Convent and is faithful to her ministry of prayer. “I have been
blessed with a most rewarding life as a Hospital Sister and give thanks to God
for the journey – his guiding hand was ever-present to me.”
Sr. Jonette Devlin - 2014 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
From 1954-69, she served at St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, and St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing as a clinical instructor, organized the first Intensive Care Unit (ICU) that opened on May 3, 1965, and was the supervisor of the ICU.
From 1971-2013, she served at St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay, WI, as a Clinical Nurse Specialist of the three Critical Care Units. She was the first clinical nurse specialist at St. Vincent Hospital and was responsible for teaching the registered nurses in the hospital’s adult Critical Care Units and throughout the hospital. She also taught at local nursing programs and was a preceptor for students in master’s programs for colleges in Wisconsin and Michigan. While at St. Vincent in the 1970s, she developed the renal dialysis program and the organ donation program – both of which continue today. Also in the 1970s, she provided outreach in the community by offering pacemaker clinics and blood pressure screenings and working with the National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin.
Sister Jonette dedicated nearly 60 years of her life to nursing education and continues to volunteer at St. John’s Hospital and St. John’s Breadline. “As a teacher, I always wanted each nurse to be the best he or she could possibly be and learn something new each day. I also reminded them that they were taking care of God’s children,” said Sister Jonette.
Kate Scherzer - 2013 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
“Kate represents the very best in the nursing profession. Her commitment to caring for the most vulnerable and her selfless dedication and duty to her patients and colleagues makes her worthy of this honor,” said Brenda Jeffers, RN, PhD, Chancellor, St. John’s College.
Kate entered St. John’s School of Nursing in 1942 immediately after graduating from Pana High School. Even before she graduated from St. John’s in 1945, she was given an opportunity to care for premature babies. Over the years, Kate was instrumental in advancing the care for premature babies. In the early 1950s, she worked to establish a dedicated room for premature infants; the 1970s she worked with faculty from the newly founded Southern Illinois University School of Medicine to recruit a neonatologist to Springfield.
Despite the many technological advances that occurred in the care of neonates during Kate’s career, she always recognized how important it was to get to know her tiny patients so well that she could tell what was wrong with them by the way they cried or how they laid in their cribs.
Sr. Agnes McDougall, OSF - 2012 Distinguished Alumna Award winner
In the words of her students and colleagues who nominated her:
“Sr. Agnes McDougall is worthy of the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award because of her nearly 50 year commitment to nursing education. Sr. Agnes McDougall is a graduate of St. John's Hospital School of Nursing in 1957 and as a faculty member she was involved in a major curriculum revision in the mid 1960's to move nursing education to a patient centered approach focused on problem-solving. Many diploma programs at that time were closing their doors however St. John's was moving to educate nurses focused on patients. In 1969, Sr. Agnes returned to the School after earning her MSN. In 1973 she initiated collaboration and articulation with Springfield College in Illinois to offer graduates coursework and an AA degree - preparing them for completion of a BSN. When graduates completed the program after 1976 they had earned a diploma in nursing and 60 credit hours of general education credits. Under Sr. Agnes' guidance the program at St. John's became proactive in curriculum development and strengthened it to make further changes in the 1990s. In 1986 Sr. Agnes wrote the 100-year history and developed the 100-year glossy photo book. After leaving St. John's Sr. Agnes has worked with the elderly in assisted living and now continues to educate nurses to care about patient. She also continues to speak to others about the wonderful history of nursing and the contributions to society. Sr. Agnes' commitment to nursing education and St. John's College of Education makes her a distinguished alumni member and deserving of the 2012 award.”
“Sister McDougall was an inspiration to me to be a professional in my chosen career. I joined AORN and obtained certification in the operating room (CNOR) in order to keep my skills current. The patient and their family has always been the focus of care for me with the gentle and cheerful guiding “hand” of Sister McDougall.
She has continued great works in the care and education of patients and caregivers.”
Agnes Ann McDougall was born on February 26, 1933 in Indianapolis, IN and raised in a loving family along with one brother and a sister. Her path to Religious Life was one that began, quite appropriately, in a school.
“Father Raymond was leading a retreat at St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis, and gave me the address of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis,” Sister Agnes recalled. She contacted the Sisters and after a time of discernment, entered the Community on September 12, 1951. “I desired to merge Religious Life and Nursing and found this in our Franciscan Community,” Sister Agnes said.
In 1957 she graduated from St. John’s School of Nursing, Springfield – a school where she would eventually serve more than 20 years(1963-1984) as a nursing instructor, assistant director, and director. She continued her education and completed post graduate education in surgery at St. John’s Hospital, received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Marillac College, St. Louis, MO, and earned a master’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.
Documenting one part of the Sisters’ history
Sister Agnes spent two years in research and then wrote the book “The history of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Springfield, Illinois” on the observance of its 100th anniversary in 1986. “I was able to dig through faculty minutes, past issues of the school newsletter, and many photographs. I also was able to interview Sisters, alumni, and staff that shared memories and helped identify the photos,” Sister Agnes said. This past year she was instrumental in the 125th anniversary of the College.
Following the completion of the book, Sister Agnes served at Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, WI, in Gerontology. She then went on to teach nursing in East St. Louis and Decatur.
Relationship with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville, IL
She began her service at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville, in 1958 as the Operating Room Assistant Supervisor and returned in 1996 in her current work with the Home Health Care department. Her coworkers described Sister Agnes as a woman who is “willing to serve,” “cheerful,” “makes people smile,” “carries her Christian spirit to all she meets,” “the coolest nun,” and filled with “compassion and intelligence.” One coworker wrote that “Sister Agnes’ compassion and kindness are the kind of traits that all nurses should emulate.”
Wearing three hats: Sister, Nurse, and Teacher
In addition to her work with Home Health patients, she also is an instructor and coordinator of the Licensed Practical Nursing Program at Kaskaskia College, Centralia, IL.
In thanksgiving for many blessings “I enjoy teaching nursing because it has always seemed to me to be like Theology – there is always something more to learn,” Sister Agnes said. When asked for a message that she can pass on to her students, Sister Agnes answered with a smile that “a life lived for others is the greatest blessing and a life lived in a religious community is one great way to make it happen.”
Reprinted in part with permission from hospitalsisters.org
Theresa (Jones) Vann - 2011 Distinguished Alumna Award winner
“Theresa has had a position of influence on hundreds of students. Many well trained RN’s both active and retired. Theresa was for many a role model. She was wife; (in the late ‘60’s) active Mother; Professional! She smiled; was relaxed; had a sense of humor; was well read; continued to aspire to greater things in Nursing; procured two master’s degrees; was compassionate as a care giver, teacher and friend. She is delightfully Franciscan – hospitality is so important to her. Joy in her life, family or relationships is most evident. She will represent St. John’s College on a level with Sr. Charitas!”
“Theresa championed the St. John’s College of Nursing. She was strongly committed to nursing educations and maintaining alumni involvement to the program.”
“Theresa’s career in nursing education demonstrates excellence in leadership in practice. She retired from St. John’s College of Nursing with the title of Assistant Professor in Parent-Child nursing. She graduated from St. John’s in 1949, MS in Education 1985 and MSN in 1990.”
Sr. Charitas Prince - 2010 Distinguished Alumna Award winner
Sister Charitas is a graduate of St. John’s School of Nursing (Class of 1932) and served on the faculty here from 1932-72 as an instructor of Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology. Reflecting back on these years at St. John’s Sister Charitas admitted that she never wanted to be a teacher. “Had I wanted to be a teacher, I would have entered the Notre Dames,” she said with a grin. She completed post graduate studies from St. John’s Hospital in Pediatrics and earned a bachelor's and master's degree in biology from DePaul University.
As a child in Cook Valley, WI Sister Charitas had three goals: to be a Sister, to be a nurse and to be a missionary. In 1972, she had her first experience as a missionary in Taiwan along with other Hospital Sisters of St. Francis.
Sister Charitas’ primary responsibility was teaching but this time it was conversational English. She taught English for seven years at the Ursuline Language College, at two banks, at industrial factories, as well as private language classes to groups of adults. Most notably, she was the grammarian for the Kaohsiung International Toastmaster’s Club. In addition to her teaching, she assisted the Sisters in their Star of the Sea Clinic, Kaohsiung. She spent 14 years in Taiwan.