Women panelists share stories about discerning personal vocations

Margaret Peppiatt
Staff Writer

Four women from different walks of life discussed the process of discerning personal vocations in the Gentile Gallery Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The panelists were Alicia Hernon, ‘94, a local mother of 10; Joanne Storm Gallagher, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and is the chair of the department of psychology; Megan Reister, associate professor of special education and early childhood; and Christin Jungers, professor of mental health counseling and dean of the School of Professional Programs.

Hernon graduated Franciscan University with a bachelor’s degree in education. She said her time at Franciscan formed her as “a professional,” preparing her to work full-time as a teacher and later part-time after she became a mother.

Hernon helped found Mary Seat of Wisdom Montessori school in Steubenville and started an organization called the Messy Program Project with her husband.

Gallagher came to Franciscan at the age of 26 after primarily focusing on her studies. She highlighted the “vocational surprise” of dating and marrying a former Franciscan student when she was 38.

“You are where you’re supposed to be,” Gallagher said, emphasizing the importance of being peaceful where the Lord has placed you in your station of life.

After working with school-aged children through special intervention, Reister arrived at Franciscan and soon became a newlywed. She opened up about the birth of her first daughter and her subsequent inability to have more children.

While Reister said she initially envisioned herself as working part-time after becoming a mother, she became the primary breadwinner of the family after her husband returned to school as a full-time student.

“I’m starting to see the blessings even though it wasn’t our first choice and it wasn’t what we wanted, and, trying to move from my will to God’s will, I’m able to do the job that I can do,” Reister said.

Jungers said she struggled with the question of her personal vocation. She came to Franciscan after earning a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education & supervision.

“I think the shift for me happened when I allowed myself to see my life as a mystery that I have to live … and it’s not a problem that I’m supposed to solve,” Jungers said.

The panelists next participated in a Q&A session with questions from a moderator and the audience.

Junior Rebecca Sullivan said, “I’m really thankful that I went to this talk to hear the stories of such wise women.”

The talk was sponsored by ResLife, Instruments of Peace Social Work Club, Phi Alpha Honor Society and the Social Work Program.