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Alumni Profiles

Abby Rooney, A'14

Welcome to our second profile in our series highlighting the accomplishments of our talented Sacred Heart alumni and the ways in which they carry the values developed at Sacred Heart with them today. Today’s profile features Abby Rooney, SHS A’14, communications professional and recent Columbia University graduate. Abby Rooney’s life exemplifies Sacred Heart’s commitment to educate both the head and the heart. A strategic communications specialist at a news media company by day, she pursues her artistic passion, writing for musical theater, by night. Abby’s artistic calling was first nurtured during her time at Sheridan Road. An active participant in Sacred Heart Middle School musicals, she continued to participate in musical theater in high school at Walter Payton and in college at Columbia University. In fact, when looking back at her time on Sheridan Road, the musicals stand out as her favorite experience. She worked her way up the ladder of roles, moving from a small ensemble role in Alice in Wonderland to a larger role in Singing in the Rain before she landed a major role as Smee in her final musical at Sacred Heart, Peter Pan. More than her characters, Abby remembers the dedicated faculty and staff members who put so much time and effort into making the program successful. Clearly, besides her artistic talents, Abby has excelled academically, studying English and Statistics at an Ivy League university. Yet, while rigorous academics were a crucial part of her Sheridan Road experience, she feels that the emphasis on a holistic, values-based education is what sets Sacred Heart apart. Goal II, a deep commitment to intellectual values, has been central to Abby’s life, but not because it encouraged perfectionism or an emphasis on grades above all else. Rather, Abby felt that Sheridan Road encouraged a love of learning for its own sake, a commitment to a growth mindset, and an emphasis on opportunities outside the classroom. Abby’s life makes it clear that Sacred Heart provides more than an education for the intellect. She credits Sheridan Road’s arts and athletics programs for providing her a place to build character and figure out what kind of person she wanted to be. Now, even as a working adult living in New York City, she still finds herself carrying on the sense of community that was fostered at Sacred Heart Schools. The theater program taught her the importance of interdependence over independence and gave her the permission she needed to begin to lean more on friends, family, and other trusted individuals. Abby’s life demonstrates the power of the community at Sacred Heart Schools and the reality that, no matter where life may take her, she, and every other community member, will always find a home in the Sacred Heart community.

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Annika Swanson, A’16

Annika Swanson, A’16, could not pin down a favorite Sheridan Road memory; in her words, there were simply too many to choose from. Whether savoring the excitement and surprise of Conge, engaging with the wide variety of clubs and activities, or admiring the adorable kindergarten students dressed up for the Christmas Play, Annika clearly enjoyed her Sacred Heart experience from start to finish. Annika’s family has a legacy at Sacred Heart. Not only did she complete kindergarten through 8th grade at Sacred Heart before continuing her education at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, but her older sister, Mikayla (A’14, pictured in the photo), and her younger brother, Niklas (H’20), are also part of the Sheridan Road family. Now a junior at Georgetown University studying economics, French, and computer science, Annika still feels the impact of her Sheridan Road education on her daily life. She finds that the Five Goals have become embedded in her subconscious and intuitively guide the way that she moves through the world. Being grounded in such strong values from a young age, Annika now finds it easy to take on new challenges, expand her horizons, and constantly strive to be the best version of herself. When asked what prospective students and parents should know before coming to Sacred Heart Sheridan Road, she emphasized the sense of community. From the moment she stepped foot in Sheridan Road, she felt welcomed, safe, and accepted by students, faculty, and staff. This high level of community support provided the foundation she needed to explore her interests, leading her to get involved in athletics, Science Olympiad, theater, Glee Club, and more. Sacred Heart, to Annika, was a community where she could take risks, be herself, and solidify her values, all of which have set her up for the successful and fulfilling life that she has molded for herself today.

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Mary Jane Wells, A'80, HS '84

Welcome to our fourth profile highlighting the accomplishments of our talented Sacred Heart alumni and the ways in which they live the values developed at Sacred Heart in their everyday adult lives. Mary Jane’s Sacred Heart experiences were shaped by her teachers. She remembers teachers literally opening up their doors for students, inviting them into their homes to build community. This openness demonstrated their investment in and personal dedication to their students. The passion of her teachers instilled a desire in Mary Jane to seek a well-rounded, holistic knowledge base that would serve her well in her chosen career. As she entered the world outside the walls of Sheridan Road, each of the five Goals played a role in Mary Jane’s career and personal development. In particular, a solid foundation in faith, respect for intellectual values, and community have been constants in her adult life. She gained an unquenchable thirst for exploring the world and understanding people, beliefs and faiths more deeply. This foundation in the Goals grounded her as she embarked upon significant changes in her life, including a move to Manchester to work for and ultimately as she founded Marelo, a consulting company. Mary Jane believes that Sacred Heart laid the foundation for the international life she lives today. The different cultures, religions, and ways of life she experienced and learned more about while at Sheridan Road prepared her to work in an international company and adapt to living overseas. Although Mary Jane now lives across the Atlantic Ocean, she still feels deeply connected to Sheridan Road. She recently met up with a fellow Sacred Heart alumna in Paris, where St. Madeleine Sophie founded the Society of the Sacred Heart more than two hundred years ago! Mary Jane Wells’ life truly embodies one of the mottos of Sacred Heart: “wherever you go, whatever road you may travel, you will always find a home at the Sacred Heart.”

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