Dubuque Honors Exceptional Individuals through Presentation Scholarships

Many years ago, the Sisters of the Presentation instituted a number of scholarships and awards to further the educational bequest of the congregation’s foundress, Nano Nagle. In the spirit of her desire to serve, the sisters are delighted to honor the following admirable recipients.

Mother Vincent Hennessy Foundation Scholarship
In celebration of Mother Vincent Hennessy and the Dubuque Presentation foundation, the Sisters of the Presentation offer a $1,500 scholarship to a graduating senior from Wahlert Catholic High School in Dubuque, Iowa, which the congregation has actively supported since its inception.

This year’s recipient is Evelyn (Evie) Ward. Evie’s steadfast service to her school, her parish and the wider Dubuque community makes her deserving of this scholarship.

Rooted in faith, Evie has a deep willingness to be of service to others. Within her home parish of Resurrection, she participates in Mass as a reader, cantor, altar server, Eucharistic minister and children’s liturgy assistant; and volunteers at the parish festival, mobile food pantry and Vacation Bible School, among other services.

Deacon Jim Schmidt shares, “Evie is, from what I have witnessed, an outstanding young lady who is willing to give of herself in many ways. She has learned her faith but more importantly is living it. Her path of life, I’m sure, will be filled with helping serve the needs of others whenever she can.”

Ellen Patch, Wahlert Catholic teacher and pastoral associate at Resurrection, adds, “I have known Evie since she was a very young girl. I have always admired her ability to adapt and persevere as she finds ways to accomplish her goals. Evie always gives 110% with a smile on her face and a compliment to offer. She is an excellent example of living a life of faith and service.”

“My parents have always taught me and my five siblings to be of service to people,” states Evie. “Going to school at Resurrection, I was taught by Presentation Sisters Benjamin Duschner and Donna Demmer. Their example of giving and service has inspired me to major in religious studies at Loras College in the fall. My future profession in campus ministry compliments the Presentation mission of teaching and guiding young people. The sisters can count on me to be the type of student to make them proud.”

Nano Nagle College Scholarship
The Nano Nagle College Scholarship rotates among Iowa high schools where Presentation Sisters have ministered. The $1,500 scholarship, awarded to a student who models self-giving service helping to improve the lives of others, intends to aid graduates in the continuation of their education.

This year’s scholarship is awarded to Hallie Ehn, a student at St. Edmond High School in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Her tireless involvement in her parish, school and community serves as an outstanding example for people of all ages.

“Whether performing in community theater productions, singing with a community choir, serving as a cantor at church or organizing fellow students to help those in need, Hallie is a natural leader who strives to better those around her,” shares Bruce Perry, Hallie’s vocal instructor. “Witnessing the transformation from a rather shy and retiring fifth grader into a community leader, who is always quick to advocate for the betterment of all of those she knows, has been amazing.”

Sarah Cosgrove, from the St. Edmond School English department, testifies to Hallie’s leadership among her peers. “I have observed Hallie in several roles over the past years and have always been impressed with her sense of integrity as both a student and person. What is even more impressive is her genuine concern and care for others, which she displays on a daily basis. She uses her endless enthusiasm to build people up and brighten their days. She is a hard worker who loves life and improves the lives of those around her.”

“Service has given me the opportunity to expand my horizons, meet new people and help those that need it the most. I have learned to never take anything for granted,” expresses Hallie. In the fall, Hallie plans to attend the University of Iowa and study pre-pharmacy with assured admission to the pharmacy program. She also plans to audition for the Newman Singers at the Catholic church in Iowa City.

Presentation Associate Scholarships
Due to the generous support of the Dubuque Presentation associates, four $1,000 scholarships and one $300 scholarship were given to clients of three ministries sponsored by the Sisters of the Presentation: La Luz Centro Cultural in Hampton, Iowa; Hotel Hope in New Orleans, Louisiana; and Presentation Lantern Center in Dubuque, Iowa. The associate scholarships are intended to assist with education, job training, equipment or fees and expenses associated with the immigration process. Congratulations to the 2021 Presentation Associate Scholarship recipients!

Luis Pedreguera
Luis was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and came to the United States as a teenager. He was only able to attend two years of school in Mexico and did not learn to read or write. He married his wife in 2014, and they have two sons, ages five and one. Luis attended classes at La Luz Centro Cultural to learn English, computer skills and how to play the guitar. Sister Carmen Hernandez met Luis when she was director of La Luz and shares, “Luis is a hard worker and made great efforts to better himself so he could be the best for his family.”

Faith is important to Luis, and he and his wife are involved in the Evangelical Church in Hampton, Iowa. Luis is working with an immigration lawyer to obtain citizenship, but the legal fees are very expensive (over $5,000), so Luis will use the scholarship to help pay the cost. “My hope is to not have to worry about my family’s wellbeing and to help others in any way I can, just as I have been helped,” says Luis. “I would like to take my family to Veracruz to visit my parents and siblings, whom I have not seen in over 15 years. I would also like to have a business to help my family prosper in life. Finally, I would like to educate myself further in all areas. I know that living in the land of opportunities, all of the above are more than possible.”

Constance A. Williams
Currently living in New Orleans, Constance was born and raised in Harvey, Louisiana, and is the mother of a young son. Being a single parent has been a struggle at times, but Constance is a hard worker and determined to build a better life for her son. The workers and volunteers at Hotel Hope have helped Constance feel safe, respected and optimistic about the future. In 2017, Constance created a business selling handmade and consciously-crafted products to support her family. She has worked as an early childhood educator, has taken courses at Xavier University and has always had a passion for helping and healing others. Constance plans to use the scholarship money to continue her education to become a certified doula and help women and their families.

Constance shares, “I am not perfect, but every day I do my best. It has been a long journey for me to get to where I am today, but I am very proud of the person I am and the woman I am becoming. I have so much to give the world, and I am determined to give it my all.”

Juan Velasco
Juan is 31 years old, and Mexico is his birth country. He moved to the United States when he was 11 and graduated in 2008 from Perry High School. He attended college for one year but had to quit due to lack of finances, so he started working construction. One of Juan’s dreams in life was to have a family of his own. In 2012, the dream came true when he married Liliana, and they now have three amazing children: Maxx, age eight; Alia, age five; and Mateo, age three. They like to do outdoor activities as a family.

Juan’s biggest dream is becoming a U.S. Citizen, and he is working with an immigration attorney on the application process. Aimee Lenth, associate director of La Luz Centro Cultural, states, “Juan is generous with his time to us, and in 2020 even drove down to Des Moines with a trailer to pick up a major food donation for our agency’s food pantry. I am honored to assist him with his citizenship paperwork as he strives to achieve this major step, not only for himself, but also as a role model for his children.”

Mohamed Abidi
Mohamed (Mo) is originally from Tunisia, North Africa, and is 34 years old. He came to the United States to be with his wife, whom he has been married to for five years. Mo learned English at the Presentation Lantern Center and is presently studying for his U.S. citizenship. He loves playing soccer, and family is very important to him. Mo works full-time in a factory and has also started a snow removal and lawn care company. Mo shares, “I dream of getting a business degree to help me to expand my business.” Those at the Lantern Center know Mo to be a very kindhearted, responsible, hardworking man.

Looking to the future, Executive Director Megan Ruiz states, “I think if Mo can grow his business, it will be great for the community, too, as he already has two part-time employees, and plans to hire more if business improves and he can afford more equipment for his landscaping and snow removal.”

Diego Mejia Moreno
Diego is a junior at Wahlert High School and his favorite subject is math. He is the son of Julia Moreno and Ramiro Mejia and plays football, wrestles and runs track. He enjoys being outdoors and has maintained a 4.4 GPA throughout high school. Diego attended tutoring sessions with his mother for many years at the Presentation Lantern Center where he learned to speak English. Diego reflects, “My greatest aspiration is to make my parents proud and for them to see that all of their sacrifices have been worth it. I hope to go to college to be an architect or structural engineer, and then be able to give back to my community and all of those who have helped me.”