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Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Education Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumna of the Year Award

Dr. Kathleen A. CepelkaDR. KATHLEEN A. CEPELKA GRAD '92
Whitefish Bay, Wis.

Even as a child, Kathleen felt drawn to teaching, going as far as organizing summer “reading groups” for her friends in her West Allis, Wis., neighborhood. And because she was taught by the Sisters of St. Agnes in grade school, high school and college, her perception of this calling was indelibly influenced by their “powerful, positive example.”

From these promising beginnings, Kathleen has gone on to have a career of more than 45 remarkable years in Catholic education. Whether the role has been teaching or administrative, at the elementary, secondary or graduate-school levels, Cepelka has insisted on the best for children, academically and spiritually.

“I’m in love with the service of God,” she says.

In 2010, she was associate dean of Marquette’s College of Education when she was tapped to become superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, assuming responsibility for more than 32,000 students and 2,500 principals, teachers and staff in 10 southeastern Wisconsin counties. “I literally cannot imagine anyone anywhere who is better suited to this position,” wrote Dean Bill Henk at the time. “She regards her new role as a calling — that everything in her experience as an educator and human being has led her to this point.”

“It’s our business as Catholic educators to prepare students for success in every aspect of their lives and to form them in the way of holiness,” says Kathleen, who serves on the boards of Cristo Rey High School, PAVE, St. Anthony High School, St. Mary’s Springs Academy and Pius XI Catholic High School.