Catholic, Independent Elementary Schools Serving Chicago's Children Since 1876


Mary DelGrande A'02

Published in February 2019

When Mary DelGrande A’02 transferred to Sacred Heart Schools in 4th grade, she felt unsure of how she would find a place for herself in this new environment. She was shy and nervous, but teachers and family provided a support system and she started making friends - some she still has today.

Who could have guessed that, 19 years later, she would be President of the Sheridan Road Alumni Association (SRAA), shaping the direction of the Alumni Board and how alumni reconnect with Sacred Heart?

Mary first came to Sacred Heart for a “shadow day” when she was in 3rd grade and saw her preschool friend, Christine Ahern A’02. Christine and Mary grew close at Sacred Heart, and then parted ways in high school and college. 

During her years at Sacred Heart, Mary loved the encouragement she received to push herself out of her comfort zone, “to grow, free from judgment” and to explore new interests. Mary loved the class trips, especially the 6th grade Ropes trip. She remembers the excitement of doing this camp trip with classmates: the snacks, the dance parties, and the special bond that the students created. To this day, Mary loves rock climbing and bouldering! Additionally, as President of SRAA, she advocates for alums to provide annual gifts designated for class trips – so that all current Sacred Heart students can have access to the same kinds of influential experiences that she had.

Academically, Mary distinctly remembers two teachers who stimulated her passion for learning. She is grateful to Mrs. Wenche Haverkamp for “bringing history and learning to life.” Mary loved the reenactment of “The Illiad” and “The Odyssey,” dressing up in togas and leaf crowns, putting herself into that era. Mary found it exciting to imagine herself in those historical moments – gaining a new world perspective and actively learning.

Likewise, Mrs. Jody Stawicki greatly influenced how Mary introduces herself, writes a persuasive argument, and approaches the “art and science of public speaking.” Like so many other alums, Mary was thrilled that Mrs. Stawicki came back for the 2018 Alumni Weekend to teach her “Notable Americans” class. Seeing Mrs. Stawicki and sitting in her class awakened memories of not only her time at Sacred Heart, but of all that she had learned while she was here.

Spiritually, she feels that the Sacred Heart Goals and Criteria have provided a “foundation for her spiritual beliefs.” Throughout her life, she has felt free to explore different religious beliefs and assess how she will approach difficult circumstances when they arise. She appreciates having the Goals to reflect upon during her spiritual journey – they support and comfort her in difficult times and help her to grow and evolve. 

Complimentary to the Goals and Criteria, community service has been an integral part of Mary’s life – from her time at Misericordia, both at Sacred Heart and as an adult, to her service in Austin, Texas, when she volunteered to train collegiate rowers. Mary has continually worked to develop and grow the service aspect of SRAA. Under her direction, the Alumni Board now organizes an annual bike drive; last year the Board collected over 75 bikes for donation to Working Bikes.  She believes community service benefits not only the recipient, but also the volunteer, who learns from being in different situations and making connections that might not happen otherwise.

In 2015, Christine Ahern and Mary reconnected at Alumni Weekend. Christine, who was President of the Alumni Board, encouraged Mary to get involved in SRAA with her. Mary not only got involved, but also was elected Vice President in 2016.

As President of the SRAA, Mary uses the skills that she learned from Sacred Heart – preparing to lead a meeting, knowing her audience, and presenting herself in a respectful manner when there are conflicting opinions. She has the confidence to communicate with and recruit new Board members, make connections with alums of all different ages, and engage an entire audience as she has done at the annual Angel Brunch, which inducts new graduates into SRAA.

Today, Mary balances her time working as a consultant for a health information technology firm, volunteering with the SRAA Board, playing with her beloved dog, and acquiring new passport stamps. She continually strives to grow and challenge herself in all areas of her life, an attribute that she credits in part to her time at Sacred Heart.

Mary’s time as President will conclude on June 8, after she addresses the 2019 graduates at Angel Brunch. She will continue to participate in the Board and looks forward to mentoring the incoming Co-Presidents, Elizabeth and Mary Grady (A’06, A’06).