Alumna Award Winners

Marjorie Beyers, PhD
2016 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
Beyers has served nursing and healthcare professions throughout her career. Her work includes over 10 books, numerous articles and publications, over 300 speeches, presentations, workshops and memberships on numerous committees. 

Before her retirement in 2000, she was the Executive Director of the National Commission on Nursing, Director of Evanston Hospital School of Nursing, Vice President of Nursing and Allied Health at Mercy Health Services, a tenured professor at University of Texas at Austin, and the Executive Director for the National Commission of Nursing. Since her retirement, she has served as a consultant for nursing and patient care in hospitals and health care systems. She served as the Interim Chancellor at St. Johns College in Springfield, Illinois. 

Beyers has served as a member of numerous editorial boards. She is an emeritus Board member of Catholic Health Initiatives, was a member of the Catholic Health Initiatives Board Quality and Safety Committee, the Christu's Health Board Quality Committee, and the Nursing Spectrum Advisory Board member. She was also a member of the Advisory Board for St. Xavier's College School of Nursing and is an advisory member of Loyola University of Chicago School of Nursing. 

Beyers has received many awards and honors including the Pana, Illinois Hall of Fame, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University School of Nursing, and the Distinguished Service Award from Mercy College in Detroit, Michigan. She received the Top 100 Legacy Leaders award from Indiana University in 2014. She graduated from St. John’s School of Nursing in 1957, and she received the baccalaureate and master’s degrees from Indiana University and a PhD from Northwestern University. 
Sr. Joel Jacobi, OSF
2015 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
Sister Joel entered eternal life on December 13, 2015.

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, OSF
2014 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
Sister Jonette entered the Congregation of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, Springfield, IL, on September 8, 1946 and professed First Vows on June 13, 1949. She is a graduate of St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Springfield, IL, and earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s degree in nursing from St. Louis University. 

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 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 Scherzer entered eternal life on January 8, 2016.

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.” 
Sr. Agnes McDougall, OSF
2012 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner

Sr. Agnes entered eternal life on April 6, 2015.

Sr. Agnes McDougall was committed to nursing education for nearly 50 years. She is a 1957 graduate of St. John's Hospital School of Nursing. In 1969, Sr. Agnes returned to the School as a director after earning her MSN. As a faculty member she was involved in a major curriculum revision to move nursing education to a patient-centered approach focused on problem-solving. While diploma programs at that time were closing St. John's was moving to educate nurses focused on patients. In 1973 she worked 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 general education credit hours.

She served 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.

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. 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.

Theresa (Jones) Vann
2011 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
Theresa entered eternal life on June 25, 2012. 
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, OSF
2010 Distinguished Alumna Award Winner
Sr. Charitas entered eternal life on March 6, 2014.

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.