Multi-Generational Families of St. Kate's Nursing:
Top row, left to right: Irita (Downs) King ’93, RN, CRNI, VA-BC and daughter, Danyel; Danyel (Downs) Braziel ’19, RN, CCRN, PHN; Lindsay (Schwintek) Schipper ’02, MA’08, DNP’21, MBA, RN, PED-BC, NPD-BC, NE-BC, with niece Summer; Summer Schwintek ’22.
Second row, left to right: GeorgAnn Burns ’57; Megan Norby, MSN’21, RN; Nimo Ahmed, AAS’99, BSN’07, FNP-CNP; Hibo Ahmed, MSN’21, DNP’23, RN.
Third row, left to right: Liz (Campion) Francois ’86; Mary Claire Francois ’24; Jane (Stumpf) Zappa ’68; and Sarah (Zappa) Rodriguez ’95, MS’13, DNP’23, RNC, NPD-BC.
Nurses are heroes to their patients, and often to their own family members as well. The children and grandchildren of St. Catherine University’s nursing graduates grow up observing these outstanding healthcare workers touching countless lives, healing and comforting patients and loved ones alike with compassion and expertise. It’s no wonder many grow up to follow in their footsteps to continue their family’s tradition of service toward others.
We spoke with six families of multi-generational St. Kate’s nursing graduates to learn about their experiences, favorite memories, why they are proud to be a St. Kate’s nursing graduate, and what it means to be a part of a family of St. Kate’s nurses. We are honored to share their stories and are proud of all of our outstanding St. Kate’s nurses.
Irita (Downs) King graduated from St. Kate’s in 1993 with her associate degree in nursing. “The special thing about St. Kate's is how prepared I felt as a new graduate. I received a very solid education and was academically prepared to succeed when I pursued my bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and master’s degree afterward. Furthermore, I credit St. Kate's for preparing me with strong leadership skills,” she says.
In 2019, Irita watched her daughter, Danyel (Downs) Braziel, walk across the same stage as she received her bachelor of science in nursing degree. Danyel — who won the “Rising Star” award at the 2020 Minnesota March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Awards event — now works at the same healthcare organization as her mom, which Irita calls “an indescribable blessing.” Danyel says, “I am proud to be a St. Kate’s nursing graduate, because I know that I was prepared to lead in spaces that are not always designed for me. My education was grounded in leadership, and I am confident in my education and skills that I gained through my time at St. Kate's.”
Sarah Rodriguez grew up knowing she wanted to serve others like her parents. Her father was an Air Force officer, and her mother, Jane Zappa, was a nurse. Sarah was inspired to do both, receiving her bachelor of arts in nursing at St. Kate’s — Jane’s alma mater — before joining the Air Force. “At St. Kate’s, I learned about caring and serving others, no matter who they are. That is what prompted me to become a nurse and also an Air Force officer. I proudly served my country and continue to serve others as a nurse,” Sarah reflects.
After her service in the Air Force and a career as an RN and nurse leader in healthcare organizations, Sarah is now an assistant professor of nursing and clinical experience liaison at St. Kate’s. “St Kate’s has a long, rich history. I am proud to be a part of it. I count myself as one of those nurses who have made a huge difference in the lives of others,” says Sarah.