Xavier Magazine

Mentor a Future

Students Gain Guidance About Their future—and Lifelong Friendships—Through Xavier’s Mentoring Program

Kelly Kleier had done well in organic chemistry but by the end of her sophomore year still wasn’t feeling the magical allure of medical school. What, she wondered, would she do with her biology degree after graduation?

Xavier Magazine

Pilgrim’s Promise

The journey began at a little town on the French side of the Pyrenees, crossed into Spain and wound along a worn dirt path westward toward the burial grounds of St. James on the Spanish coast.

Xavier Magazine

Helping Moms Beat Heroin

Every heroin-addicted mother who comes to the HOPE program has a plan: Step one—get off heroin. Step two—deliver a healthy baby.

Xavier Magazine

Of Einstein and Dinosaurs

More than a decade after retiring, biology teacher Jack Berninger is still teaching. He doesn’t know how to stop. If he isn’t offering a lecture or leading a nature hike in Ohio or Indiana, chances are, he’s doing it in the Florida Everglades.

Xavier Magazine

Healing in Vietnam: War Orphans

When Dennis Coyne made a return trip to Vietnam in 2003, he carried with him $2,400 he’d collected from his Erlanger, Ky., parish. He would just drop it off at an orphanage near Kon Tum, “say goodbye, and that would be the end of the story.”

Xavier Magazine

Alumni Profile: Public Financier

Natasha (Hamilton) Holiday
Bachelor of Arts in history, Bachelor of Science in political science, 2004
Director, RBC Capital Markets
New York

Financing | When New York City, its subway system or other city departments want to build things, Natasha Holiday is a key contact for getting the necessary financing in order.

The Projects | “Our area of finance is based on the municipal bond market and helping city and state governments leverage debt financing to facilitate infrastructure investment. That’s roads, bridges, highways, new school construction, airport expansions, housing and sometimes a more controversial issue like stadium finance. The whole nine yards.”

World Trade Center | Holiday is responsible for client coverage for large municipal issuers, primarily New York City and MTA, the regional transportation system, and clients all along the Northeast. “My clients are typically large issuers, transactions of $300 million-plus. The largest I’ve ever done was $2 billion to help finance the new World Trade Center.”

View from the Top | “We were able to tour the facility up to the 103rd floor. So that was very special.”

Time at Xavier | Holiday was the Student Government Association president her senior year and was involved with student government all four years. It was a time that involved greater work on diversity and some controversy concerning the on-campus showing of the “Vagina Monologues.” Under her leadership, Xavier also staged the first significant concert in years, featuring OAR at Cintas.

True Blue | “I’ve been a (Xavier) trustee for four years, which is really an amazing opportunity. I sit on the finance, investment and student affairs committees. I come back to campus four times a year. It’s completely different. When I was there, the new buildings were Cintas and Gallagher.”

Still Into Politics | A Democrat, Holiday ran in 2010 for state committee person. “It’s the entry-level elected office in New York City and state politics. I lost by 106 votes in a primary election where over 4,000 votes were cast.”

A Young Family | Her husband, Aaron Holiday III, is a venture capitalist at 645 Ventures. Their 11-month-old son, Aaron IV, is “definitely the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” They live in Battery Park, near where she works on the ninth floor at the World Financial Center.

Charitable Giving | They sponsor an annual party in November for a cause they choose each year, raising over $10,000 in 2013 for Morehouse College to support African American men pursuing careers in computer science and technology. In 2014, they raised over $10,000 for Xavier’s Women of Excellence scholarship to support women pursuing careers in business. This year it’s Practice Makes Perfect, a New York City-based education organization committed to narrowing the achievement gap.

Xavier Magazine

Alumni Profile: Spiritual Advisor

Honors Bachelor of Arts in history, 1995
Campus Minister for Liturgy, Seattle University
Seattle, Wash.

Flagged by God | Stephan pulled into town to start work on a law degree at the University of California at Berkeley on a Sunday. He wanted to attend Mass, but what church? He saw a sign for the Holy Spirit Parish’s Newman Center. But where to park on these streets, with his possessions in his car? He saw a man who flagged him into a parking lot.

Uncanny Connections | Then during Mass, Stephan was surprised to hear the priest, Al Moser, mention having lunch with his sister on Fountain Square in Cincinnati. Moser, like Stephan, had attended Covington Latin and Xavier decades earlier. The coincidences were too much.

A Real Resolution | Stephan says he “resolved that first day: I’m going to do the first campus ministry event at the Newman Center, which really wouldn’t have been my thing. But because of that, I’m like, ‘OK, God, you’ve got my attention. I’m going to try something here.’” The event was a meet-and-greet introduction to small faith-sharing groups that convened the entire semester. It was one of the pulls he felt that led him toward the priesthood.

Xavier Connections | The oldest of five, Stephan attended Covington Latin and Xavier and was baptized at Bellarmine Chapel. The seed for the priesthood was planted when he took history courses from John LaRocca, S.J.

Early History | But history was his first passion, and he continued his studies in Austria and earned his master’s in history at UCLA in 1998. He later went to law school at Berkeley, graduating in 2002, before finally succumbing to the pull of those signs that first day in Berkeley and joining the Jesuits. Stephan, now 42, was ordained in 2013.

Education is Key | In between, he earned master’s degrees in pastoral studies at Loyola University Chicago and divinity at Boston College. He also taught at a Catholic high school and at Loyola Marymount University, both in Los Angeles, and served as deacon at a parish in Brookline, Mass. He’s now in campus ministry at Seattle University.

Homeless Ministry | While in Chicago, he was captivated by the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a Jesuit ministry that offers retreats to the homeless. “We don’t think to bring the two together, but at the same time, who else might need that more? It can help be a foundation that those who are struggling with homelessness can build on for real transformation in their lives.” He continued his homeless ministry in Orange, Cal., where he worked with high-school students, young adults and homeless people.

Spiritual Advising | “A place I feel very called to or passionate about is the spirituality and work with the poor and people who are marginalized in particular. I think there’s something very powerful, very much in line with the Gospels and what Jesus calls us to do.”

Xavier Magazine

Improving Life in Togo: Mayo’s Clinic

Rick Mayo keeps a copy of the photo that made him roll up his sleeves and help his church deliver water to a dozen African villages.

In the snapshot, a young girl with captivating eyes squats by a brackish pond, dipping her fingers into water the color of dough.

The pastor of Mayo’s church in Virginia Beach, Va., showed his congregation the picture of Natalie. His eyes teared up. Kovie villagers still were drinking polluted water—even after the church dug a well on an earlier trip.

“We have to do something more,” he said.

The problem was the villagers could not easily get to the new well, and many in the region were still walking 11 kilometers a day for water that was often dirty. So Mayo joined the church’s fourth mission to Kovie last summer, traveling to southern Togo in West Africa. The Spring Branch Community Church had raised $58,000 for a major water project that included a 40,000-gallon water tower, the generator that pumps water to the tower, and pipes to convey the water to Kovie and 11 surrounding villages totaling 27,000 people.

Mayo expected to get his hands dirty on the trip, but villagers had already laid most of the pipe when his team arrived. So he focused on plans for a medical clinic. At a cost of only about $3,000, they had  raised enough for two.

Mayo, 52, credits his desire to help others to two things: his family and Xavier. A 1983 business graduate, he now manages a Raymond James Financial Services branch, but certain Xavier classes launched a lifetime of reflection for him. “The older I get, the more appreciative I am for not just the economics side of it, but the cerebral part of it—philosophy, theology,” he says.

Mayo’s team also brought bags stuffed with about $1,000 worth of toiletries, medications, school books and bibles. They also learned Natalie is an orphan and now pay for her schooling, which along with knowing she has fresh water, is a comfort for Mayo.

Xavier Magazine

One Smile at a Time: Visionary Dentist

When Dr. Edward Schaaf was asked to be the first volunteer dentist at the Free People’s Clinic in Englewood, a high-crime, poverty-plagued Chicago neighborhood, he figured he’d give it one night a month.

He wound up working two days and an evening every week at the clinic for 52 years—all of it unpaid. In 2010, however, Schaaf finally retired at the age of 78.

Now looking back on a career serving the dental needs of the uninsured, he recalls what it was like when he entered the cramped little clinic for the first time. Tucked downstairs in the basement of St. Basil Church, it was jammed with neighborhood residents—mothers and children and tired, old men—waiting to see the doctor. Schaaf was increasingly drawn to the people and moved by the gentleness and concern the physicians showed for their patients.

“I felt this was what God wanted me to do at this time in my life,” says Schaaf, who graduated from Xavier in 1953 with an Honors Bachelor of Arts. “That source of motivation is extremely important.”

While he stepped up his contributions to the clinic, Schaaf also took care of patients three to four days a week at his own practice in South Shore, which was also underserved by doctors. “That was my top priority to get done,” he says. “I found I was able to handle the stresses. So why not do what you can? There’ll come a day when you can’t.”

His dedication to improving the dental health of his patients—and their smiles—did not go unnoticed. Two years after he retired because of failing eyesight, the Chicago Dental Society Foundation awarded him its 2012 Vision Award for more than two decades of outstanding volunteer achievement and philanthropy at the clinic. Schaaf, now 83, can rest after a job well done. He not only worked without pay in the tiny clinic, but he successfully lobbied dental manufacturers to donate top-quality equipment and supplies. “I turned into a very good beggar, I tell you,” he says with a chuckle. 

Schaaf says his care for others grew from a lifelong readership of Jesuit magazines. His altruism was piqued while he was at Xavier, where, he says, “we had some incredibly dedicated and talented teachers.”

While he cared for patients’ teeth, he also listened carefully for other problems—like abuse at home. Some patients were so grateful for the free care that they cleaned floors as thanks. The clinic has since closed.

Xavier Magazine

West Nile Survivor: Walking Tall

In August 2012, two months after returning from a trip to South America with his class of Executive MBA students, Jeffrey Daniel was at the halfway mark and looking forward to graduating in May.

But by early September, shortly after classes resumed, Daniel was in a coma, near death and paralyzed. At the hospital, he was put on a ventilator so he could breathe. Doctors concluded the cause was West Nile virus, which he’d apparently picked up from a mosquito bite at home in Cincinnati.

In the following weeks, the weight on his 6’2” frame plunged from 238 pounds to 170. He saw the bones of his legs beneath his skin.

From those depths, however, Daniel showed the physical and spiritual fortitude that had helped him play football at, and graduate from, the U.S. Naval Academy. The strength wasn’t only his, he says. He relied on his wife, his faith, his coworkers from Ethicon, and Xavier’s MBA staff, professors and students for support.

Daniel and his wife, pediatrician Evelyn Jones Daniel, were told that West Nile patients rarely walk again. But that October, he started physical therapy that got him out of bed for daily workouts. He left the hospital two months later determined to resume his former life and his MBA classes. “When I came back from the hospital, I couldn’t remember how to use my cell phone, I couldn’t remember how to use a calculator, but I said, ‘I’m going to go get my MBA.’”

Daniel returned to work and in July, two months after his MBA class had graduated, he returned to Xavier, still in a wheelchair, but ready to resume his studies. His wife drove him each night, but he wheeled himself in and out of class. He did his capstone course last fall, and on Dec. 19, his classmates surprised him with a graduation party.

Daniel, 52, is walking at commencement, which for him is no small task. He progressed to a walker, then a cane and now is walking on his own. He’s working on improving his gait and continues to regain feeling in his legs.

Daniel says earning his MBA from Xavier is his greatest accomplishment. “I’ve always had a soft spot for Xavier, so I feel really honored and blessed to be a Musketeer. It’s something to be really proud of.”