Alumni Spotlight: Joe Salz ’12

A Numbers Guy with a Heart for People

While at Holy Family, Joe Salz ’12 was an honor student, a member of the State title winning baseball team, a musician, a campus minister, and a teammate on the Math League team.  And he was just getting started! Read on to find out what Joe says led him to his current career and how participating in multiple activities helps him succeed even today.

Current Employer: Deloitte Consulting
College: University of St. Thomas
Major: Bachelor of Science at University of St. Thomas, major in Actuarial Science, minor in Mathematical Statistics, Associate of the Society of Actuaries (ASA), Member of the American Academy of Actuaries (MAAA)
Middle School: St. Joseph C-Stem School in Waconia


HF: How did you become interested in actuarial science? 
JS: I was a junior in high school and had an interest in math, but I was unsure about being an engineer. While deciding between a math-oriented career path and a people-oriented path (like business), I heard about actuarial science and how it combined both math and business. One of my friends (Steven Guillemette ’11) mentioned that his dad, Scott, was an actuary, and after meeting with him, I was sold.

HF: What do you consider to be your greatest personal and professional accomplishments?
JS: My greatest personal accomplishment was being asked to lead our Catholic Men’s Leadership group my senior year of college. It is humbling to know that other members of our group looked up to me and trusted me as a leader. 

Professionally, my greatest accomplishment is passing my first actuarial exam. I remember being intimidated by how difficult the exams were (pass rate of 40-50%, depending on the exam), so passing really instilled confidence in me to continue pursuing an actuarial career.

HF: What do you enjoy most about your current position?
JS: Employers value actuarial expertise and encourage their employees to progress through the actuarial exam process; at many companies, you are able to continue your education while on the job (not to mention incentives for passing exams as well!). As a recent college graduate, being able to learn on the job while simultaneously progressing in my career is what I enjoy most about my current career position.

HF: Did your experiences at Holy Family help you to overcome obstacles you’ve faced in college or now as an actuary?
JS: Balancing exam studies and a full-time job is definitely the most challenging part of my current position. As a consultant, working hours can vary widely in any given week, so adhering to a strict study schedule can be very difficult and requires solid time management skills.

I believe Holy Family prepared me for my current career because I was able to participate in many activities such as baseball and Jazz Band while also taking Advanced Placement courses. There were numerous times when these activities overlapped, and it required time management to stay on top of it all.

HF: STEAM careers sometimes incorporate one or more elements of science, engineering, technology, art, and math. Clearly your career involves math, but do you see elements of others in it?
JS: In almost every situation I experience at my job, we are required to combine math, science, technology, and – believe it or not – art into our projects and solutions for clients. A topical example is helping a state government find new ways to lower healthcare costs in its Medicare and Medicaid population. Clients rely on our creativity and technical expertise to come up with practical and effective answers to their problems.

HF: In what ways, if any, did a Holy Family course and/or teacher impact on your career choice?
JS: Mr. Kannel is one of the smartest teachers I’ve ever had, including collegiate professors. His love for math and ability to explain things clearly helped establish a solid foundation crucial to my understanding of advanced topics such as multi-variable calculus and probability.

Mrs. Livermore was my AP Calc teacher and taught me how to really learn the material. She gave homework assignments each week that weren’t graded, but instead were for us students to practice the material learned on our own. This in turn helped me develop the discipline to put in adequate study time despite not getting a grade, and was the basis for developing study plans for future actuarial exams.

As a high school student interested mostly in math, I never felt that English was a strength of mine; however, after having Mr. Unverzagt for Honors American Literature and AP English, I realized how fun writing can be, and saw how much better my persuasive papers became right before my eyes. Mr. Unverzagt was able to take something that was somewhat unknown to me and many other students and explain it in a process that was logical and easy to understand. Further, he knew how to challenge his students while keeping the class engaging and fun.

HF: What advice would you give to younger alumni or current Holy Family students who aspire to follow a similar career path?
JS: The actuarial field is getting more and more competitive, and we see students continue to attack exams earlier and earlier when we attend job fairs. If you are a high school student interested in actuarial science, take advantage of the math classes that Holy Family offers to help put you in the best position for progressing through college.

HF: What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
JS: I spend my free time playing in a band with some friends from college (including Danny Gilles ’13 and Dan Klauer ‘10). In fact, not all actuaries are nerds – my boss and I hosted a “Battle of the Bands” between his band and my band this past summer. It was awesome!

I also teach confirmation at Our Lady of Grace in Edina once a week, where I lead a group of 7th graders. It is a great chance to practice my faith while being immersed in the real world.

HF: What would you say to a student considering Holy Family?
JS: Holy Family gives students the opportunity to both refine their current interests, and to explore new ones. If you enjoy playing sports but want to try out a music class, go for it! Holy Family’s class sizes give access to not only a wide breadth of activities, but also to a faculty that is there to help you. I owe a lot to my teachers and coaches at Holy Family, who helped shape me into who I am today.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Ella Dahlin, 2014

Ella Dahlin: Using her gifts and sense of justice, this 2014 Holy Family Catholic High School graduate brings opportunities to others. She credits Holy Family for positively influencing and nurturing her in and out of the classroom.

“One of the most powerful aspects of Holy Family’s community is the support system that believes in its students. In high school, I felt important and valued by my teachers, staff, coaches and peers. I was taught to own who I was unapologetically. It gave me the confidence to make decisions and believe in them.” Ella Dahlin, 2014 Holy Family graduate

Alumni Profile: Ella Dahlin
Graduated: 2014
Elementary/Middle School: St. Joseph Catholic School, Waconia
University Attended: Loyola University Chicago, graduated in 2017
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services
Holy Family Activities:

  • Campus Ministry
  • The Phoenix
  • Yearbook
  • Cross Country
  • Lacrosse
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Volleyball

HF: Catch us up—what are you doing today?

ELLA: I am an elementary site supervisor with the Boys and Girls Club of Garden Grove (BGCGG) in Southern California, where I’m responsible for the implementation of an after-school program for 100 students. BGCGG provides free after-school programs that focus on academic success, provide positive role models and create opportunities for children to realize their worth.

HF: What are you most proud of at this point of your life?

ELLA: I am proud of working hard to graduate a year early from Loyola, taking a risk and moving to California, and for pursuing my true passion by working towards social equity with the Boys and Girls Club. As blessed as I am, I know it is not by some coincidence. I have been able to achieve what I have today because of my amazing family, friends and educational opportunities. I was extremely lucky to attend a high school and university that shaped me into the person I am.

HF:  How did Holy Family influence your extracurricular activities while at Loyola?

ELLA: My favorite club at Loyola was the Women’s Lacrosse team, where I was a captain, treasurer and board member. If it were not for Holy Family, I would have never been introduced to the sport in the first place, so I am very grateful for my high school program.

During my time at Loyola, I was also a resident assistant and worked as a student office assistant with Residence Life. In many ways, these roles were just the continuation of (Holy Family’s) campus ministry, as I was responsible for programming, decorations and welcoming new students on campus.

My activities also included:

  • Social justice internship program
  • Volunteering at Catholic Charities Madonna House
  • Alpha Phi Omega (a service fraternity)
  • Alpha Sigma Nu (a Jesuit honors society)

Loyola is an amazing university with an abundance of opportunities, so I was able to pursue the interests that started with my time at Holy Family. Although I have some innate interests in these activities, it was Holy Family that started the fire that encouraged me to pursue them.

HF:  Did a Holy Family teacher have a particularly positive impact on what you are accomplishing today? 

ELLA: The strongest asset Holy Family has is its amazing, committed teachers. I will always remember the way Mr. (John) Dols encouraged me to take on opportunities and let my light shine. Mr. (Jacob) Dueck provided insight, created community and always acted from a place of care. Mr. (Andrew) Witchger challenged and supported me, and Dr. (Holly) Pottebaum encouraged me to dig deeper into the history of social justice in our country.

The list could continue forever, but the point is—every teacher impacted the way I thought and helped shape me into the critical thinker I am today. I am so appreciative of the holistic, caring education I received that prepared me for college and my life after college.

HF:  Do you have a favorite memory from Holy Family?

ELLA: A collective feeling that is present in all my favorite memories is one of accomplishment—planning a trip to Haiti, scoring a goal in lacrosse or contributing to Christmas convocation. Holy Family does a fantastic job at offering opportunities that actualize students’ efforts and ideas. With a strong support system, I was empowered to be uncomfortable, take risks, and work hard to make my ideas a reality.

HF:  How have you changed since leaving Holy Family?

ELLA: I have grown into a more educated and experienced individual. When I was younger, I was idealistic to a fault and have become more realistic through the years. Although slightly jaded, I am still an optimist who believes in the potential of every person. Through my experiences after high school, I realized the world is much more gray. I am and always have been an opinionated person, but I have learned the importance of listening to those who contradict me. I must understand other people’s life experiences to create a community that can come together.

HF: How did Holy Family help you be successful in pursuing your dreams? 

ELLA: Holy Family taught me that hard work, determination and a passion for what I believe in is powerful. I will never forget the class where Mr. Dols shared a quote that says:

“Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.”  — Marianne Williamson, author

The staff and students at Holy Family embody that idea. I was fortunate enough to receive an education that molded my character and empowered me to believe in myself. My education challenged me to apply for challenging jobs, to take on opportunities that make me uncomfortable and to own who I am as a person.

HF: How did Holy Family help build your confidence and skill set in a highly competitive world?

ELLA: One of the most powerful aspects of Holy Family’s community is the support system that believes in its students. In high school, I felt important and valued by my teachers, staff, coaches, and peers. I was taught to own who I was unapologetically. It gave me the confidence to make decisions and believe in them. I was no longer uncertain or half-hearted in my ideas but rather fully committed. This skill set prepared me both for college and now my life after college.

I’m not afraid to ask questions. I am not afraid to admit my own mistakes. I am not afraid to learn. Since I was believed in, I believe in myself, so I do not fear a competitive world. I will work hard, I will show up, I will follow my passions, and I know that with time, I will succeed.

HF: What advice do you have for current and prospective Holy Family students? 

ELLA: Take on the opportunities that Holy Family offers. Since Holy Family is smaller in size, I was able to participate in sports, clubs, and events that I may not have been able to at other schools. I started Nordic skiing my sophomore year because I wanted something to do. I joined Math League because my friends wanted to try it. I fell in love with writing when I joined The Phoenix. If you want to feel valued, if you want your name remembered, if you want to be able to join any team or club simply because it interests you—then this is the school for you.

If you already attend Holy Family, join those activities! There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

SHARE YOUR HOLY FAMILY EXPERIENCE. If you have a unique story, experience or twist in life because of the positive impact Holy Family Catholic High School has had on you, share it. E-mail your story to: communications@hfchs.org. We’ll spotlight stories from Holy Family parents, students, and alumni.

Wonder where our graduates go to college? Visit http://www.hfchs.org/follow-graduates/ to see a list of colleges.

2017 Ready Tee Fire is a huge success!

Thank you to the sponsors, golfers, and volunteers who made the 2017 Ready Tee Fire Golf Classic a HUGE success! This year’s event was one of the largest in our 21-year history with a full field of 145 golfers and a record number of alumni participating. The event raised a budget-breaking $45,000 of net proceeds to support Holy Family programs.

2017 Ready Tee Fire Golf Classic winning teams are:

Open Division: Noel Rahn, Rich Balm, Tom Peterson, Joe Gleason
Second Place: Tim Browne, Andy Olson, John Bohmbach, Jim Bergerson
Alumni Division: Ryan Swanson ’14, Dylan Woolf ’14, AJ Spaulding’14, and Joey Marooney ’14
Women’s/Mixed Division: Chris Moakley, Marty Moakley, Meaghan  Moakley ’13, and Mike Brennan

2017 on-course game winners are:

Hole #2 Closest to the Pin: Karen Menzuber
Hole #4 Men’s Longest Drive: Tom Peterson
Hole #4 Women’s Longest Drive: Alexis Pricco ’18
Hole #9 Longest Putt: Mike Iversen
Hole #10 Women’s Longest Drive: Meaghan Moakley ’13
Hole #10 Men’s Longest Drive: Adam Dooley
Hole #16 Closest to the Pin: Joe Finley
Hole #18 Longest Putt: Jeff Felmlee ’08

Thank you to the following generous sponsors:

Platinum Sponsor
Strom Engineering

Silver Sponsors
Klein Bank
Rahr Manufacturing
PK Services

Bronze Sponsor
BiG Athletics

Prize Sponsors
Swannies
2nd Swing

Friends Sponsors
Merrill Lynch/The Polhen Terris Group
Charter Bank

This event would not be possible without our 14 student volunteers and 11 adult volunteers. Thank you for your time!

Click HERE to see the Facebook album of the day.

Alumni Spotlight: Tom Mahota’s Bright Future

Tom Mahota: Known for putting his best effort into everything he takes on, this 2017 Holy Family Catholic High School graduate explains opportunities and those around him helped shape a path for success.

“My family has always encouraged me to do well in school and work to become a better person, but being around people and friends who strive for the same things makes it much easier and more natural. Holy Family is an easy place to do this because there are so many good people who want success for themselves and others.” —Tom Mahota, 2017 Holy Family Graduate

Graduated: 2017

Elementary/Middle School: Our Lady of the Lake School, Mound

Attending: University of Minnesota–Twin Cities

Major: Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics

Holy Family Activities:

  • Baseball
  • Soccer
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Football
  • Robotics
  • Knowledge Bowl
  • Eco-Freako Club
  • Bowling Club
  • Honor Society
  • Campus Ministry
  • Empty Bowls
  • Art Fairs

HF: What is your definition of “success?”

TOM: I think that someone who is successful in life is someone who has found happiness in themselves and in others. I’ve met a lot of people—good, bad and everything in between. One thing I’ve learned is that people who can recognize that their happiness doesn’t come from just themselves treat others with a particular kind of kindness.

Everyone has ups and downs in life, but the people who are able to find happiness in others are the ones who stand out to me. I would definitely consider this success.

HF: How have your varied experiences connected to the person you are?

TOM: One of the most valuable things that I’ve found in being involved in such a wide scope of things is how to deal with many different types of people.

It is amazing to experience the difference between the atmosphere of a locker room and an art fair. Neither one is better than the other, yet the people, the atmosphere and the temperament are completely different.

There is value in both, and the people I have met in both have definitely shaped me.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a very competitive person. A big reason for this is from the years of sports and having such a large part of my life be competitions with amazing coaches and mentors.

Then there is also the creative side. I’ve been building things for as long as I can remember, and the people I’ve met at places like workshops or art fairs are some of the most interesting and kind people I’ve encountered. I’m hoping that those traits are rubbing off on me as much as the competitiveness.

HF: With so many interests, how do you remain focused on what is important?

TOM: I think the best way is to simply surround yourself with the right people. My family has always been encouraging me to do well in school and work to become a better person, but being around people and friends who strive for the same things makes it much easier and more natural. Holy Family is an easy place to do this because there are so many good people who want success for themselves and for others.

HF: How do your interests transform how you perceive the world?

TOM: My perception of the world is through a lens of all the different things I do and the connections I can make between them. I’ve found my experience with things that seem totally different helps me excel when I bring qualities from each together.

One example is robotics. When designing and developing a machine to shoot balls, I used concepts and ideas from baseball pitching machines. I’d been around them my whole life and was able to draw a similarity from baseball to benefit what we did in robotics.

HF: Now that you have graduated, do you see yourself as a role model for other high school students?

TOM: The way I perceive myself is no differently than the way I see other people. Everyone has his or her own talents, interests and shortcomings, including myself.

I feel like a lot of times people see someone do something amazing and say, “Oh, there’s no way I could do anything like that,” before even trying it.

The only thing I would say that has helped me succeed is this: I never tell myself I can’t do something, or that something isn’t for me before I try it and decide for myself.

SHARE YOUR HOLY FAMILY EXPERIENCE. If you have a unique story, experience or twist in life because of the influence Holy Family Catholic High School has had on you, share it with us. E-mail your story to: communications@hfchs.org. We’ll spotlight stories from Holy Family parents, students and alumni.