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Peoria, Illinois

Parent of
Michael '97
John '99
Matthew '04

Individualized education

"My boys are so different. It was amazing that three different personalities could go to the same university and all find their walk in life, discover their own niche and develop their individual talents."

After seeing three sons graduate from St. Ambrose, Bernadette is practically an expert on the university. She knows Ambrose staff members and professors, and she has witnessed how instrumental they've been in helping each Stickelmaier son find his own path.

In her own words

How did the Ambrose tradition start for your family?

All Michael, my oldest, knew was soccer and basketball. He wanted to go somewhere he could play in college. He was also recruited by other schools, so at a certain point he was overwhelmed. I just said, "You have to make this decision, and you have to be happy where you are going."

Why was he feeling overwhelmed?

He was worried about the money. I am a surgical tech. His dad is an accountant at Caterpillar. We are not wealthy. But we said, "If you work hard and apply yourself, we'll help you get through four years." He did not decide until July, when he went to Ambrose for a weekend. Then he called and said, "Mom, I'm coming here. It's where I want to be."

As a parent, what did you appreciate about St. Ambrose?

My sons all graduated in four years. I credit that to the counseling staff, their coaches and their teachers. For the two older ones, that was a major accomplishment because they both played varsity sports. If the students needed tutoring or counseling, they got it.

The people who work at St. Ambrose are like family. I knew they cared about my children. They were passing on the same values that we brought them up with.

Any chance you'll become a full-time recruiter for St. Ambrose?

Well, I've got a lot of Ambrose sweatshirts. When I wear one to the grocery store or shopping, people always ask about Ambrose. Meg Halligan in admissions says that I am her cheerleader. I say when God blesses your life, you become a cheerleader. My husband and I are both retired, and we joke that could probably have built a library for what we paid to Ambrose-with three bachelor's degrees and two master's degrees. But it was worth every penny.

How does it feel to be part of the Ambrose family?

My sons had St. Ambrose fellow students in their weddings, and they still keep in contact with their friends. We've gotten to know other Ambrose parents through the years. One of them told me, "My four kids went to four different universities, but the one who went to St. Ambrose is the only one who came out with lifelong friends."

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