Class Notes – Fall 2017


Mary Ellen Holligan, A’39, La Grange Park, Ill., works as an executive assistant at Connamara Systems in Chicago, and celebrates her 100th birthday.


Sue Horn Wachtel, C’72, Kansas City, Mo., is retiring from teaching after 28 years in the classroom.


Laura Bell Hill, C’98, Boise, Idaho, received a 2017 Professional Achievement Award from Idaho State University. She was selected as the assistant director of Cyber Security for the U.S. Forest Service in 2016. Previously, she served in several leadership positions in the Washington, D.C. office. She had a 23-year career as an Army Signal Corps Officer—retiring in 2004. Hill was deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Guard and was responsible for the preparation and combat deployment of more than 130 major items of communication equipment and 260 personnel. As chief, Operations Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Ft. Belvoir (2001), she was responsible for providing emergency response communications in support of the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001. Hill assumed command of the Washington Area Communications Command and White House Communications Agency, and she was entrusted with responsibility for one of the highest profile communications positions in the Department of Defense. She has been recognized with numerous military awards including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the White House Presidential Service Badge. Hill is currently serving as a formally appointed VA Secretary, appointed advisory board member for the Readjustment of Combat Veterans, and she serves as chair of the Idaho State University Veterans Advisory Board. Hill is married to Lt. Col. (retired) Bart J. Hill, director of information technology for the Idaho Catholic Diocese. They reside.


Damian Torres-Botello, C’01, Detroit, received a Master of Arts in Social Philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago. He has been missioned to the University of Detroit Mercy for the next three years of his formation. He will serve as the director of outreach for the theatre department. Damian entered the Jesuits in 2012.


Nicholas “Nick” Alford, C’13, Kansas City, Mo., graduated with his Doctor of Physical Therapy from Rockhurst University, and he passed his board exam on his first attempt.

Bridget O’Neil, C’14, Manhattan, Kan., finished her third year in veterinary school at Kansas State University, receiving her white coat.

Lindsay Davis, C’15, Basehor, Kan., finished her second year in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Rockhurst Univsersity, receiving her white coat.

Leandra “Lea” Whitson, U’15, Lawrence, Kan., is working as a graphic designer for The Merc Co+op in Lawrence.

John Cothern, C’15, Leavenworth, Kan., started his fourth year of medical school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

Julie Hopkins, U’17, DeSoto, Kan., was accepted into the Ph.D. program at the University of Kansas in chemistry.

Kellie Burnett, C’17, Kansas City, Mo., is working as a financial analyst at H&R Block, Inc. Corporate Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.

Khadijah Rush, C’17, Lansing, Kan., is working as a fund accountant for State Street Corporation, Financial Services Division, in Kansas City, Mo.


Emily Kasprzak, assistant professor of theatre, gave birth to a baby girl, Lucy, on July 16, 2017.

Judy Weidower, former director of financial aid, and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Rob Miller, athletic director, was named the KCAC Athletic Director of the Year. Under the leadership of Coach Miller, Spires Athletics finished third of 12 institutions in the KCAC Commissioner’s Cup this season (an average of every sports’ finish into an all-conference rank from one to 12). The school’s third-place finish was a major improvement from the two previous seasons—finishing seventh place overall. In addition to the Spires impressive Commissioner’s finish, USM was also the only team in the KCAC having no ejections in the 201617 season.

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