Alverno women are the real superheroes who walk among us. Each and every day, you try something new, take risks, conquer fear, give it all you’ve got. You stand up for yourselves and those around you. You build confidence, inspire others and create a better future for all of us — no cape needed.
Inspired to inspire others
For Tamara Boyd ’18 ’20, education represents an opportunity to challenge herself as well as the people she cares about.
Boyd earned her bachelor’s degree from Alverno and returned to earn her MBA, which she completed this May.
“Now that I have my MBA, I feel more powerful. At first, you always have thoughts like: ‘I can’t do it. Why am I doing it? If I do it, who’s going to pay attention?’” she says. “I never realized that I am a role model, especially for my nephews, my siblings, my cousins.”
It’s for herself and these family members that she pushed forward to complete her degree, even as the COVID-19 pandemic posed new challenges during her final semester.
“I want to show people that anybody can push forward in life,” she says.
Boyd is the first in her family to earn a master’s degree, and blazing this new trail has challenged her to dig deep and take risks. As a new graduate student, she recalls applying for a scholarship — the first time she had ever put herself out there in that way.
She won that scholarship, from the Zonta Club of Milwaukee, last fall.
“I didn’t realize I was that person. I’m grateful,” she says. “It makes me feel brave because I am doing and have done something that I never would have thought I would accomplish.”
Learning how to learn
It’s no small thing for Jodi (Nevers) Zarling ’10 to work as an educator.
“I had a really rough time in high school,” she recalls. “I was a good reader but struggled in other areas. I had no self-confidence. I had no direction on what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go.”
Zarling’s mother, her biggest source of support, encouraged her to check out Alverno, which she described as offering a different way of learning that might suit her better.
“Alverno saw me for who I really was. I was accepted and teachers allowed me to learn in a way that worked for me,” she says.
With a new perspective on learning, Zarling was finally free to embrace a dream she had been ignoring for years: a dream to become a teacher herself, so she could offer students a better experience than what she had growing up.
“My whole life, in the back of my head, I always thought I wanted to be a teacher. But I never listened to that voice. I just tucked it away because I was scared,” she recalls. “I found my passion in teaching through Alverno.”
Today, as a second grade teacher in the Racine Unified School District, Zarling applies the different teaching styles she learned as an Alverno education major to ensure that all learning styles are embraced in her classroom.
“As a teacher, I get to know my students, where they come from and their learning styles. I build relationships with them,” she says. “Now, I show children that it’s okay to learn differently. It’s okay to step up to your challenges and be brave.”
Life’s big changes, while welcome, can spark big questions. That was the case for Laura Saavedra ’15, when she became a mom for the first time at 19 years old.
“As a young mother, I struggled to understand my purpose in life,” she says. “Being a mother is hard, and putting my kids first always came before myself.”
But earning her college degree was important to her. So Saavedra, now a mother of five, decided to enroll in Alverno.
“I wanted the satisfaction of finishing my degree and showing my children you can succeed no matter how busy you are. After taking a year off due to a high-risk pregnancy, I pushed through my last few semesters and was the first person in my family to attend and finish college. I did it with four children and a full-time career.”
Since then, Saavedra has completed a three-year program to become a certified credit union executive. She’s grateful for the support of her family, friends and colleagues, as well as her own perseverance and hard work.
“I am proud of finally not giving up on myself and graduating with honors!” she says.
Ready to lead
Safety and security of the status quo can keep us from making a big change. Mia Harvey ’12 ’16 ’17 ’18 didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her dream job.
“The bravest thing I’ve ever done was leave the school I had been at for five years to go to a new school with leadership opportunities,” she recalls. “It was a big risk because I was leaving my pension and security, but I had to go where I thought I’d have the opportunity to grow into the principal I aspire to be.”
Her risk paid off. She’s now assistant principal at Rocketship Transformation Prep, home to K4 through fourth grade.
“It turned out to be a great decision because I’m now a teacher leader helping coach other teachers around my school,” she says. “I get to impact the future of our people. Whether it’s giving them some love or teaching them a new skill that I know they’ll need down the line, I’m making an impact in some type of way. It’s the most rewarding job in the entire world.”
Harvey doesn’t walk alone. Her biggest source of courage is her 13-year-old daughter, Taniya.
“My daughter helps me be brave,” Harvey says. “She is the reason why I keep going and I am determined to succeed. I want to be a good example and role model to her.”
Making a tough decision
Saying no to a professional opportunity isn’t easy or always possible. But sometimes, it’s the right – and brave – thing to do.
That’s what Meghan Morrical ’18 learned when, several months into a new job she loved, she was told that she was now expected to travel. This requirement, which Morrical hadn’t previously been made aware of, was non-negotiable for her boss, and it was non-negotiable for her.
“The bravest thing I have done since graduating from Alverno has been quitting my job,” she says. “I have two boys at home who are my world. I wasn’t going to travel months at a time and not see the family who supported me through obtaining my degree.”
Morrical feels blessed to have been able to make this choice with the support of her family, who are her sources of courage.
“I have boys and I want them to see women as brave, strong and courageous,” she says. “They will grow up having a better mental image of women compared to how our society portrays us.”
A leap of faith
The bravest thing Amy Naborowski ’17 has ever done, she’s done twice: moved thousands of miles to pursue her dreams.
“The first big move was when I decided to transfer schools. I moved from South Carolina to Milwaukee as a junior to finish my undergraduate degree at Alverno,” she says. “Moving from a co-ed institution that was all about grades and competition to an all-women’s institution that focused on self-improvement was a huge shock.”
A shock, perhaps, but one that she not only adjusted to, but which helped her to thrive. It also instilled in her the confidence to make a second move, last year.
“My fiance and I decided to move from our comfortable place in Wisconsin to North Carolina. With no jobs and our resumes in hand, we took the plunge so I could be closer to my family and for better job opportunities. Since the move, I have gone from a contract employee to a full-time employee at Pfizer, testing final product pharmaceuticals.”
Naborowski wouldn’t have landed her dream job without taking a risk. She encourages anyone reading this to do the same.
“If you don’t take risks, you’re never going to get everything you want. You have to be willing to take big leaps of faith to do what you want to do. Sometimes you’re not going to get exactly what you want, and that’s okay, because it’s going to get you farther than you were.”