Impact Tradition

"I see the same values, same commitment to service."

The Harney-Rooney mother-daughter team is definitely an Ursuline Academy legacy.

Graduating 30 years apart, both are Merry Macs, Elizabeth “Lizz” Harney from ‘76, while daughter Meghann Rooney finished in ’06.  

Enter the next generation: Arthur Richard Rooney, Merry Mac of 2036. You read it right. Arthur is a Nursery Ursuline boy.

“We laugh, because we are all Macs 30 years apart,” said Lizz, who teaches Chemistry and Environmental Science in the high school. “It’s really amazing that he’s there, where I went to school,” said Meghann, who is now the 1st-7th grade art teacher. “I love seeing all the little ones, and knowing that Arthur is close by and cared for, loved. Plus, when she can, Mom brings him everywhere!”

There are a few Ursuline boys in Early Childhood. They are enrolled because they are the children of faculty and staff who work at the Academy. Currently, the boys can stay until pre-Kindergarten.

Lizz and Meghann’s Ursuline story began many years ago. Lizz entered in the 3rd grade in 1966 after her grandmother’s insistence paid off. For Meghann, the road to Ursuline took a little longer. Her mom moved around working out of state in the environmental industry. When it was time to go to high school, Meghann first attended another all-girls school.

“It was a good school, but it didn’t feel right for me,” said Meghann. “All my friends at Ursuline were so happy, and so I told my mom, ‘I really need to go there.’” Meghann enrolled junior year. Within weeks, she had joined various groups and discovered her life’s passion: Art. “There was an art teacher who really encouraged me, and I just fell in love with it,” Meghann said. For Lizz, she saw Meghann “blossoming. She became very involved and she was happy. It really changed her future.”

In the fall of 2005, that happiness was momentarily stunted. Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, and Ursuline was not spared. Trees were down, electrical systems flooded, and every building affected. There were buckled floors, moldy walls, and flooded facilities.
“She had waited so long to go there and right as she became a senior, they had to have a shortened year,” Lizz recalled. “But the school – they made sure the girls didn’t miss anything. They had Ring Mass, Rally Night, Senior Prom and a beautiful graduation in the courtyard.”

Funny thing is, for Meghann, her recollection of the thing that truly impacted her wasn’t Katrina. It was Ursuline’s dedication to service. “I worked at Children’s Hospital, and my experiences stayed with me. It built empathy in me,” said Meghann. I saw the service from everyone, the principal, the sisters who live there, and they had a huge impact on my life.”

Both mother and daughter still get together with their Ursuline classmates. Lizz recently hosted the Class of 76 (or as she calls them, “the girls”) for their 40th reunion.  Meghann, who went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Apparel Design and Merchandising from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is relishing her return to Ursuline and teaching art, and being a new mother.

And while they know that Arthur will eventually go to his own school someday, they are enjoying seeing him flourish in the same environment that raised them. And the two appreciate seeing the young women they teach blossom here, too.

“I see the same values, same commitment to service. These girls have Serviam in their souls. And we are proud of all of them. They go on to good lives, great careers, successful businesses.  And yet, they are all dedicated in one way or another, to service.” - Lizz Harney '76