In what ways did your Ursuline education prepare you for the work you’re doing now?
Little did I know that my 11 years as an Ursuline student were molding me to later serve as an administrator for the Academy. I have been blessed to serve as Director of Alumnae, Director of Communications, and now Director of Mission Integration and Diversity. In my new role, I have the distinct honor of ensuring that the Ursuline mission is aligned in all areas of school life, while also preserving and integrating the Academy’s history and the charism of St. Angela Merici. I will also work, in collaboration with students, administrators, faculty, staff, parents, alumnae, and the extended Ursuline community, to advance diversity, inclusion, and belonging throughout the Academy. As a proud alumna, it is exciting to serve my Alma Mater in this capacity.
Please describe the most significant value you learned from Ursuline Academy.
Servant Leadership. Beginning with St. Angela Merici and carried on by our Ursuline Sisters, we are called to be servant leaders – serving others more than we need to be served. There is a special part of the Academy’s mission statement that truly resonates with me - “develops leaders of confidence and compassion.” These particular words affirm Ursuline’s mission of nurturing and empowering servant leaders. Since the 15th century, Ursuline women have been true leaders. During a time when women were given two choices –cloistered or married life – St. Angela chose a third. Being the servant leader that she was, St. Angela “reached out in service and love to rich and poor alike.” Her philosophy was also based on “a commitment to justice and a promotion of self-discipline through encouragement rather than compulsion in an atmosphere of unity, mutual love and respect.” In striving to live out the charism of St. Angela, I am reminded of what her close friend Gabriele Cozzano said of her – “She was like a sun that gave light to all the others, a fire and a furnace of love which enflamed them. Her words were ardent, powerful, gentle, and pronounced with such strength of grace that each one felt compelled to say: God is here.” In my opinion, his beautiful words are the very definition of a servant leader – one who brings forth the presence of God in all those he/she serves. At Ursuline Academy of New Orleans, that is how we strive to form future female leaders – the world’s next trailblazers.
Describe Ursuline in one word. Explain.
Home. What was once actually home for both my aunt and my grandmother as boarders, has always felt like home to me. Even before I became a student, I was a small baby on our State Street campus. Ursuline has always been a safe, welcoming place for me. And inside were people who, to this day, I consider to be family. I am fortunate to have a special bond with the Sisters, my teachers who are now friends, and my classmates who have always been sisters to me. I was married in the Shrine, baptized my “Ursuline boy” there, and have memorialized my grandmother’s life there. Returning home to become a member of the staff was a very humbling experience. In fact, I was brought to tears during my very first Academy Mass as an employee. I sat and watched second grade students interact with one another. Being that very same age when I entered Ursuline, I sat and thought that while the girls wouldn’t realize it at the time, they weren’t just friends - but friends for life. From the uniform they wore to the songs they sang, that particular Mass took me back to my time as a young Ursuline girl.
Even in my adult life, Ursuline continues to teach me so much. It is heartwarming to know that I am continuously strengthened in faith and knowledge. To be able to give back to the place that has given so much to me, is an honor and a blessing. Each day, I strive to follow in the footsteps of those I fondly refer to as “Ursuline legends” – women who’ve devoted their lives to all things Ursuline. I can still hear Ms. Probst’s voice on the other end of the line during my early days in the Alumnae Office. I treasure the visits that I had with Sr. Marie McCloskey to discuss Rally. I can see the excitement on Clayre Crook’s face as she entered the gym for Rally. I enjoyed reminiscing on special memories with Ms. Cora. I always looked forward to surprise visits from Sr. Rosemary Meiman and our conversations about Ursuline history. Since my first day as an employee when a welcome home note was placed on my office door, I’ve felt the encouragement and inspiration of SRM. These are only a few. I am blessed with the spiritual guidance and mentorship of many Ursuline legends – some who I lean on even more lately as I begin my new path of mission integration.
About Christy Jackson Zurcher
Christy Zurcher became an Ursuline girl at the young age of seven and graduated from Ursuline Academy of New Orleans as a Merry Mac of 2000. Christy’s Ursuline roots span three generations with her grandmother, sister and two aunts also graduating from the Academy. In 2004, she received a BA in Communications from Loyola University New Orleans. Christy returned to Ursuline in 2011 to serve as Director of Alumnae and, in 2018, transitioned as Director of Communications. In Communications, she led the Academy through branding efforts which have received international acclaim from the 2019 InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Awards and UCDA Design Awards. In June 2021, she transitioned to Director of Mission Integration and Diversity.