Scene Magazine | Winter 2021
Kate (Scherbring) Johnson '08 is willing to listen to anyone who has a concern – providing they come offering a solution.
"It has become a mantra that I've taken into my leadership," she said, adding it helps people think through a challenge, define parameters, and be prepared to act.
Johnson's intent is to nurture critical thought, encourage creativity, and build problem-solvers undeterred by challenge - characteristics naturally inherent to Ambrosians.
She adopted the mantra from St. Ambrose University Professor of Business and Head Men's Basketball Coach Ray Shovlain '79, '82 MBA, and first applied it during a successful career with the Fortune 500 company Ferguson, LLC.
Now, as a manager in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at the University of Arizona Global Campus, she is bringing that Ambrosian approach to another provider of higher education.
It's Johnson's own personal pursuit of a solution that brought her back to St. Ambrose seven years after leaving campus just four courses shy of earning her bachelor's degree in business. She was allowed to participate in Spring 2001 commencement and start her career with Ferguson, and promised herself she'd get the final courses completed right away. But, as her career grew to include leadership and frequent travel, time slipped by.
"I started to realize I was limiting myself because I hadn't finished my degree," Johnson said. She got to work, completing three of the courses locally while working in Milwaukee. A final course through distance learning wasn't a ready option.
So, when Johnson moved back to the Quad Cities to be closer to family, she contacted St. Ambrose. Still working fulltime, Johnson explained she couldn't attend daytime classes but really wanted to finish her undergraduate degree. A concession was made and, in December 2008, Johnson was awarded her Bachelor of Arts in Business degree.
Kate (Scherbring) Johnson
"I'm grateful for the time that I had at Ambrose, for the relationships, and for the mentoring."
Johnson said everything she learned and experienced at St. Ambrose, from the way subject matter was taught and modeled to the skills and connections she built, continues to influence her today.
"What I really loved about my business classes is how much of the work was hands-on. We learned theory, digested it, then were told to apply it to projects. While there were parameters around the assignments, I was given the autonomy to create and show mastery in a way that made the most sense for me," she said.
"I'm grateful for the time that I had at Ambrose, for the relationships and for the mentoring. I'm also grateful that St. Ambrose is built on the idea of family, that I feel a connection to alumni that I don't even know and that network extends across the U.S. I am absolutely honored to call myself a 'Bee.'"