Exceptional Individuals Honored With Dubuque Presentation Scholarships & Awards

Above: Wahlert Catholic senior Megan Hefel is presented with the Mother Vincent Hennessy Scholarship by the scholarship committee. Left to right: Associate Deb McClimon, Sister Rita Menart, Megan Hefel, Sister Cecelia Marie Auterman and Sister Joellen Price. (Not pictured: Associate Deborah Barrett)

In 2010, the Dubuque 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 supported since its inception in 1959.

This year’s recipient, Megan Hefel, is honored for her dedicated service to others, her school, parish and the Dubuque community. Megan volunteers and works at Hills and Dales, a nonprofit that helps those who are developmentally disabled. She works as a personal assistant supporting residents with everyday tasks and personal care such as brushing teeth, eating, doing laundry and even making decisions. She is also a spiritual enrichment volunteer at Hills and Dales, teaching residents religious education, singing, reading Bible stories and doing activities with them. In addition, Megan volunteers at the Dream Center where she tutors disadvantaged students in the downtown Dubuque area. She tutors K-6th graders with math and reading skills twice a week for up to two hours. In addition, she helps with Mazzuchelli Middle School’s musicals and volunteers at Holy Spirit Parish, singing, altar serving, and setting up and working events.

“Megan is deeply committed to making society a better place for all human beings and lives her Catholic values daily. She truly is the hands and feet of Jesus in the world,” states Heather Trees, English teacher at Wahlert Catholic High School. “Like many in this generation, she does not just talk the talk. She walks the walk, making a difference in the lives of those who need a hand up. She does it with a huge heart and smile. It is not a burden to her.”

“To me, service isn’t just a pastime. Service has taught me more than anything else who God is and how God is present in the world and in myself. Every person I have worked with or alongside gives me more motivation to pursue a life of service,” states Megan.

In the fall, Megan plans to attend Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, pursuing a degree in social work.

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, aids graduates in the continuation of their education.

This year’s scholarship is awarded to Theodore Ahern, a student at Columbus Catholic High School in Waterloo, Iowa. His contributions to his community, parish and school serve as an outstanding example for people of all ages.

An active member of St. Patrick Parish in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Theodore lectors, serves and volunteers for parish events. In his school community, he demonstrates leadership and dedication through his involvement in the Senior Leadership Team which leads other youth in personal, communal and spiritual advancement.

Theodore strives to act as Christ would, to lead by example and to recognize where he could be helpful to others. ”Of all the volunteering experiences I have had, the one that stuck out to me the most was working at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank during the pandemic when so many were struggling,” shares Theodore. ”Giving boxes of food to people and seeing the faces of those we were helping was so rewarding. Simply feeling that I am making a difference, even if it was just to one person, made it all worthwhile.”

”Theodore’s willingness to give back to his community and help those in need is a testament to his character and his dedication,“ shares Katie Friedly, Columbus English teacher.

In the fall, Theodore will be attending the University of Iowa, and will major in Exercise Science on a Pre-Physical therapy track. He has chosen this path so he can continue in a life-long field of helping others. He also looks forward to getting involved at the Iowa City Children’s Hospital and Newman Center.

Presentation Mission Service Award
The Presentation Mission Service Award is offered to individuals committed to serving the Presentation mission and who may otherwise be unable to afford a mission immersion experience, locally, nationally or abroad.

This year’s recipient is Grace Flemming, a pre-med student at Loyola University of Chicago in Illinois, who works as a scribe in an emergency department.

Last summer, Grace traveled to San Pedro Laguna, Guatemala, as part of a medical outreach team of Loyola students and faculty. There, they provided free primary healthcare clinics, evaluations with physicians and prescription medication to citizens who didn’t have access to such care. Grace describes this trip as ”life changing” and it solidified her choice to pursue medical school as an avenue for caring for vulnerable people such as those she met in Guatemala.

Grace feels she is called to provide not only medical care but respectful connections with persons she encounters. ”I am personally very intrigued by medicine and it is my life’s goal to provide healthcare to underserved communities that do not have fair access,” she expresses. ”I believe the quality of life is much improved with basic healthcare and feel as if everyone deserves the right to maintain a healthy life in order to give back to society and have full freedom over their potential.”

This summer, Grace will use these award funds to return to Guatemala where she will again offer care to persons made impoverished by unjust corrupt systems. She hopes to deepen relationships with the people and deepen her own drive to become a doctor.

Associate Donna Ewy shares, ”I have known Grace her entire life. This passionate young woman has always been driven to excellence whether it be academics, swim competitions, or her passion to make the world a more just and equitable place where everyone has the opportunity for safe and healthy lives.”

Presentation Associate Partnership Scholarships
Due to the generous support of the Dubuque Presentation associates, three $1,000 scholarships were given to individuals associated with three ministries supported by the Sisters of the Presentation: Hispanic Outreach Ministry of Evangelization (HOME) in Dyersville, Iowa; La Luz Centro Cultural in Hampton, Iowa; and the Presentation Lantern Center in Dubuque, Iowa. The associate scholarships are intended to assist with education, job training, equipment, fees and expenses associated with the immigration process. Congratulations to the 2023 Presentation Associate Partnership Scholarship recipients!

Stephanie Cortes – HOME
Stephanie shares, ”The money received from this scholarship will be used to help pay for my college tuition and expenses. In the future, I would like to become a pediatric nurse practitioner. My two greatest passions have been taking care of children and those in need. I am the oldest of four children and all three of my siblings look up to me. I want to be the best role model I can be for them.”

Stephanie continues, ”I would also be able to help the Hispanic community. Often times in hospitals there aren’t Spanish-speaking or Hispanic doctors. My parents aren’t fluent in English. I am able to translate for them, but there are some parents who don’t have the same advantage. I would be able to help non-English speaking parents who are in need of care for their children. I have seen firsthand the difficulties that parents endure. I want to better myself and then be able to help others. With the grace of God, anything is possible.“

Sister Paula Schwendinger affirms in her letter of support, ”I know that Stephanie has a bright future. She realizes the hardships that her parents have endured and is focused on pursuing her dreams and making her parents proud of her accomplishments. Her unbounded energy and outgoing personality will carry her far in her future endeavors.”

Afghan Refugee – Presentation Lantern Center
Scholarship recipient from Afghanistan states, ”The Presentation Lantern Center has been very important for me because I arrived in the United States with no knowledge of English. I have been meeting with Lantern Center tutors two days a week for one year now and I am learning to read and write in English, which is very important to me. I am also working on conversational skills. Being at the Lantern Center helps me learn about the United States and American customs. I applied for this scholarship because I feel it is important for me to learn to drive so I can occasionally pick up the children from school, take them to doctor appointments and do some grocery shopping while my husband is at work. Also, I have the personal goal to have the independence that driving would give me so I can someday get a job to help my family. I need to take driving lessons and also pay a translator when I take the driver’s test. This scholarship money will enable me to do that.”

Luis Mota – La Luz Centro Cultural
Luis states, ”My hopes and dreams for the future would be to give back everything my parents did for me. They have done a lot to just bring me here to the United States from Mexico so I can have a better education. I just hope I can get a degree and have a good paying job so I can give back to them and help them with their needs. No one can ever take away my education and I am focused on that as I move forward with my goals.”

Valeria Gonzalez, immigration assistant at La Luz Centro Cultural, expresses in her letter of support, ”Luis is a remarkable individual, hard-working and self-motivated. He has had big aspirations from a young age and has demonstrated great self-reliance and strong communication skills. I am most impressed by his strong work ethic and dedication to his education. Luis is a natural leader, a man of integrity and is extremely dedicated to his family and friends. He is a role model for his younger siblings and will make great use of the scholarship funds.”