August Alumnae Spotlight, Suzanne Dorsey Heidel, Mac of 1985, High School Dean of Students

In what ways did your Ursuline education prepare you for the work you’re doing now?
Like so many others, living the Serviam motto became a major element of my profession. I have served Catholic high school girls in various roles, always incorporating community outreach and service learning. Serviam, “I will serve” is a mandate. It does not suggest, recommend or encourage service. Serviam reminds us all that we have both an inherent desire to serve our world and an obligation to do so. I remember my high school senior service project vividly. It was an eye opening experience working with young deaf children. I felt so far out of my element, but the wisdom of St. Angela teaches Ursuline graduates that you must ACT anyway - even if it feels awkward or calls for all of your courage, or in the case of St. Angela, even if you are beginning a work at age 61. I acknowledge that for students, serving others can sometimes be messy, even scary, but when the risk is joined to prayer, the experience is always reciprocal, reminding us that we are all responsible for one another and are one family and therein rewarding us by bringing us closer to one another and to God.
Please describe the most significant value you learned from Ursuline Academy.

My education at Ursuline felt boundless. Even sitting in class, I never felt stifled. My mind was free to roam, and that taught me the value of staying curious. Curiosity is what led me to the education profession. I never imagined myself as a teacher, but after finishing my undergraduate degree, I was deeply curious about world religions and my own faith. A friend and classmate’s mom, Joan Gisevius Johnson '61, who is a beloved alumna and extraordinary leader, discovered I was working on a Masters in Theology and insisted I come teach high school. I took the risk and that was 23 years ago. I continue to be curious about many things and am always involved in one or two entrepreneurial projects. Most recently, I am curious about the future of high school in our country and look for resources on innovative and progressive education.
Describe Ursuline in one word. Explain.

Companionship. There is no Ursuline Academy without St. Angela and her companions or the twelve women who traveled to New Orleans in 1727. Fearless women know that you can not manage the demands and concerns of daily life or realize a great enterprise alone. I cannot imagine traveling overseas the way they did, but maybe I could have done it with a few of my best friends! I believe there is not a more powerful force than a band of women joined in common purpose and virtue.

Suzanne Dorsey Heidel ’85 returned to Ursuline Academy following 17 years of service at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. She now serves as the Ursuline High School Dean of Students. Sue has teaching and administrative experience and served as Community Outreach Coordinator, Service Learning Coordinator and Religion Department Chair. She has led visits and served on several AdvancED accreditation teams.

Sue earned a B.A. in English Literature from L.S.U. and a Masters of Theology from Notre Dame Seminary. She has training in Design Thinking for educators and innovation in schools, completing training with 4.0 Schools, Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and Leadership & Design of California. Sue and her husband David have three daughters and live in River Ridge.