Alumni Spotlight

    Alumni Spotlight

    scherzer kate 

    Catherine “Kate” Scherzer, has been selected by the St. John’s Nursing Alumni Association to receive the 2013 Distinguished Alumna Award. Kate will be recognized as the distinguished Alumna at a special event to honor her on Tuesday, May 21, from 2 – 4 p.m. in the Bunn Auditorium/Foyer at St. John’s Hospital.

    Kate served at St. John’s Hospital for 42 years caring for premature babies. Her devotion to caring for tiny babies between 1945 and 1987 is legendary. “This has always been the love of my life. My heart was dedicated to the babies,” said Kate during a reception in 2005 in which a special plaque honoring her was unveiled outside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. John’s Children’s Hospital.

    “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.

    “The care of the babies didn’t involve the high tech monitoring that is done today, and that meant that as a nurse you had to determine what was going on with the baby,” said Kate. “As I got to know my little patients, I found there was nothing more gratifying than to see a two pound baby go home with his mother.”


    Sister Agnes McDougall, OSF Named 2012 Distinguished Alumni 

       Sister Agnes McDougall 

    It is our pleasure to announce that Sister Agnes McDougall, Class of 1957, has been selected by the St. John’s Nursing Alumni Association to receive the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award.  Sister Agnes will be presented the Distinguished Alumna at the 93rd Annual St. John's Nursing Alumni Banquet on Saturday, October 13, 2012. 

    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


     Theresa (Jones) Vann, Class of 1949  

    named 2011 Distinguished Alumni 

      theresa vann  It is our pleasure to announce that Theresa Vann, Class of 1949, has been selected by the St. John’s Alumni Association to receive the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award. The Award was announced at her home by the Alumni Board Wednesday, January 12, 2011. Mrs. Vann will be honored at the October 2011 Alumni Banquet and recognized as a distinguished guest at the April 11th, 125th Anniversary Blessing of St. John’s College building.

    In the words of her students and colleagues who nominated her:
    “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 
    Sister Charitas Prince Named First Distinguished

    In 2010, the St. John’s Alumni Association honored Sr. Charitas Prince with the 1st Annual Distinguished Alumni Award.

    Click to read Sr. Charitas Prince Press Release

    Click to read Sr. Charitas Prince Echo Article