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March Alumnae Spotlight, Lisa Lavie Martin, Sioux of 1999

In what ways did your Ursuline education prepare you for the work you’re doing now?

I had always done well in school, especially in math and science, but Ursuline Academy helped me to increase my love for these subjects to the point where I decided I wanted to be an electrical engineer. The core courses helped me build a foundation, but the opportunities provided during electives made all the difference. I really enjoyed the standard computer science course where we learned to program in Pascal. Once complete I decided I wanted to go further, but I was the only one interested in that particular subject. The faculty worked out a plan so that I could take a next level computer science course, C++, in a one-person class. When I wanted to go beyond that, and the instructor was no longer available, they let me explore through independent study. The trust that Ursuline put in me and the lengths they went to help me follow my passion for learning helped pave the way for who I am today.

I now work for the electric utility in Austin, Texas, and I get to work on innovative projects that involve renewable energy, battery storage, and controlling distributed energy resources. The work we are doing is charting a course towards a more sustainable future. I've recently learned about the enhanced STEM curriculum that Ursuline offers the young women who attend today.  How I wish I could take some of those classes. Robotics, Makerspace, programming in new languages: it all sounds so exciting. I am grateful that Ursuline continues to mold the curriculum to meet the needs of its students. Just as she did for me, Ursuline is preparing the next generation of innovators and leaders.  No matter where your interests lie or what your future field will be, Ursuline prepares young women for success.
Please describe the most significant value you learned from Ursuline Academy.

My parents deserve the credit for teaching me the value of hard work, but Ursuline helped me hone it.  I am by no means the smartest person in the room, but I know I can work really hard. It always pays off. Whether you are engaged in service to others, solving a problem at work, or helping a family member or friend, the amount of effort you put in makes a difference. High school is when one often starts to juggle multiple activities, difficult classes, complex relationships, planning for the future, and making many decisions for oneself. It is not necessarily an easy time, but the security and consistency that Ursuline provides allows each young woman who walks through her halls to focus on doing her very best at everything she encounters.

I felt no boundaries when I was at Ursuline. The nuns and faculty encouraged me to work hard at everything I set my sights on, and that sticks with me today. I try to pass this message on to my son and my employees. Hard work will remove many barriers in life.  Ursuline taught me to take it one step further though: work hard in conjunction and community with others.  Now that's really a value worth sharing.
Describe Ursuline in one word. Explain.

The first word I think of when someone says Ursuline is Serviam, but the one word I choose for this question is different. To me, Ursuline is Legacy.  When Saint Angela Merici founded the Ursuline Order in 1535 she left her vision as a legacy for all the Ursulines to come. In 1727, when the first Ursulines came to New Orleans from Rouen, France, they started the first Catholic school in the United States. They exemplified the Serviam motto and left a legacy by teaching those who would not otherwise be taught: the women and children, the Native Americans, and the slaves. Fast forward to today, every Ursuline graduate will leave her mark somewhere on this world. Some will do it with grand recognition, but most of us will do it in small but significant ways as we live our daily lives. Everything we learned at Ursuline helps us leave our legacy. We are shaping the future and doing so with hearts rooted in Serviam. Ursuline builds leaders and do-ers. She builds teachers, religious, doctors, nurses, engineers, attorneys, accountants, social workers, artists, mothers, wives, friends, and more. We get to be Ursuline’s legacy.

Lisa Martin is a Program Manager of Advanced Technology at Austin Energy, the City of Austin’s municipal utility and one of the largest community-owned utilities in the nation. Lisa is currently the project manager for Austin SHINES, a project funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Austin SHINES deploys battery storage paired with solar photovoltaics and establishes an open standards-based Distributed Energy Resources (DER) management platform to integrate and optimize DER at several levels along the utility value chain. Prior to working at AE, Lisa worked for Southern California Edison in the field of energy markets and power and gas origination. Lisa has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Christian Brothers University and an MBA in Operations Management from the University of Illinois. Lisa is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Texas.
Lisa is a proud member of an Ursuline legacy family. Her grandmother, mother, six aunts (on both sides of the family), sister, and cousin graduated from Ursuline. As a young girl, her grandparents served as Directors of Tours at the Old Ursuline Convent and lived on the grounds. When she was thirteen and her brother was fifteen, Lisa's grandfather taught them to be tour guides, and they proudly shared the story of the building and its historical inhabitants to tourists all summer long. Today Lisa resides in Austin with her husband, Garrett, and their son, August (10).