Every year during Alumni Weekend, the Sheridan Road Alumni Association presents the Sr. Catherine I. Seiker, RSCJ Award. The award is given to an RSCJ, Sheridan Road alumna/us, or alumna/us from any Sacred Heart Network school whose life exemplifies, to an extraordinary degree, the values and standards that Sacred Heart Schools represents.
Sr. Seiker began her relationship with Sacred Heart Schools in 1945 as a teacher. In later years, she worked with school volunteers and served as the Business Manager. Sr. Seiker was a proponent of the Network’s nationwide alumni community. In the 1980s, she worked tirelessly to produce the first Sacred Heart Alumni Directory and also paved the way to organize the Schools' archives. Sr. Seiker passed away in April 2016.
Sr. Seiker’s life in the Society impacted so many: the children she taught, and the alumnae and other friends she kept in touch with. Her love of people brought out the best in them and her collaborative nature supported the many projects she managed as treasurer.
Previous SEIKER AWARD RECIPIENTS
2021 Joey Yao H'76
2020 Gladys Saavedra Davis ASH’70.
2019 Anthony A. Nichols H'54†
2018 Carol Rae Culliton-Metzger PhD ASH'68
2017 Kathleen Hackett Megan ASH’67
2016 Diane Skowron Evans ASH'70
2015 Daniel Flaherty
2014 Susan Maxwell, RSCJ
2013 Joanne Barranco Steenveld ASH'56
2011 Pamela Hickey, RSCJ ASH'47†
2010 Patricia Nebrida ASH'86
2009 Anita Nagler ASH'73
2008 Kathy McKeown ASH'54† and Margaret Mary Munch, RSCJ
2007 Ginger Tarjan ASH'68
2006 Joan Schneider Wrenn ASH'55
2005 Rosemary Dewey, RSCJ†
2004 William Campbell, Jr. H'62†
2003 Andrea O’Leary Hasten ASH‘71
2002 Mary McMahon, RSCJ†
2001 Rosemary O’Neil ASH'42†
2000 Marty Corbett Kohl ASH'43†
1999 Frances Kimball Regan ASH'36†
1998 Rosalie Kempe ASH'23†
1997 Carita Corbett Rothing ASH'44†
2022 Seiker Award Recipient: Joan Merlo ASH'72
Joan Merlo ASH'72 will receive the Seiker Award on October 16, 2022, during Alumni Weekend. Join the celebration here.
Joan has been a Sheridan Road Alumni Association (SRAA) board member since 2015, the last two years as president. She helped move the board forward through the challenges of the pandemic. She sees her board service as “an example of one individual doing what they can by showing up and being involved and present.” She sees the work of the SRAA as primarily community building, reaching out to alumni, providing programing and encouraging participation and contribution, whether monetary or by personal presence.
What Joan appreciates most about her experience as a Sacred Heart student is the teachers’ attention to detail, beauty and aesthetics. Students were taught to be respectful of others' space and possessions. Politeness and silence were valued. But so was active, lively thinking.
“I can remember entering our classroom on the first day of school. The nuns would have drawings and beautiful calligraphic writing on the black board in gorgeous, deep colored chalk. There was teaching in everything. When we did a play, it was an operetta with music and costumes. The Hardey boys did full Gilbert & Sullivan productions! There were annual, seasonal rituals which I think are very important for children, like the Lily procession on December 8th and the Advent practices. There was a very deliberate and conscious way of doing everything and of thinking about things. These habits of thinking and doing left a very strong impression in me and have stayed with me.”
After graduating from Sacred Heart, Joan attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, obtaining a bachelor's degree in Italian. She served as a congressional aide to U.S. Representative Sidney R. Yates for several years. Later, she worked in the motion picture industry as a production coordinator. Taking time off to stay home with her two sons, Matthew and Jack Donoghue, Joan was involved in fundraising and volunteer work and was a founder of the parent teacher organization at the boys' elementary school. Today she works in finance for a third-party insurance administrator and is an associate member of the TUTA theater company. She continues to study theater and has enjoyed singing in numerous church choirs over the years.
When asked about the true value of a Sacred Heart education today, Joan said, “I think the world can be affected most by the actions and attitudes of individuals. The responsibility to be kind, analytical and alert is ours. That's something we can each do. If we can find a way to do more, that's great!”
Her advice for the Sacred Heart community is to try to leave each person with whom you come into contact encouraged, not discouraged. Never use fear to accomplish what you want. “We must monitor ourselves and our motives every day without fear. This reflection is for me part of my faith practice. I think if we can notice what's driving us, we have a chance to leave the world a little better each day.”