Alumni Spotlights


Marla (Pingsterhaus) Kilpatrick ’85, Accounting

Bachelor of Science (Accounting), Illinois State University
Master of Business Administration, The University of Chicago
Certified Public Accountant

We thank Marla (Pingsterhaus) Kilpatrick ’85 for sharing her Mater Dei story for our latest Alumni Spotlight! When asked how Mater Dei influenced her life, Marla stated, “Mater Dei provided an incredible foundation for both my personal and professional life. Mater Dei’s mission is to nurture the spiritual, moral, intellectual, emotional, and social growth of its student body. Mater Dei provided me with tools in each of those areas, including preparing me to complete my college education, to be married and have a child, to face the various challenges I have met in my professional career, and ultimately, to continue in my faith today. I have found, time and time again, that I look back on my days at Mater Dei and am grateful for the education and spiritual, moral, and social guidance that the administration and teaching staff provided. This foundation has provided me with the fortitude to complete some of the most challenging professional projects I have led and the reminder to always ‘pay it forward’ to individuals with whom I work.”
Marla serves as the Chief Accounting Officer for Weber Inc. (at the time of this publication). She is pictured with her husband, Mike, on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, when, as a member of the senior leadership team, she attended Weber Inc.’s listing day on the New York Stock Exchange (August 5, 2021).
December 2022


Alex Tebbe ’11, Animal Nutrition

Bachelor of Science (Animal Sciences), University of Illinois
Master of Science (Animal Sciences), The Ohio State University
PhD (Nutrition), The Ohio State University

When asked how Mater Dei influenced his life, Alex stated, “Before high school, I was passionate about agriculture and knew it was my career field of choice. What I did not know was 1) the large size and scale of the Ag and 2) how quickly Ag continues to grow. To keep up with the growth and complexity of Ag businesses, Ag needs more specialized people with advanced training and continued education. For many reasons, my education and experiences at Mater Dei were essential to setting the foundation for furthering my education and my current career as a specialist in the dairy industry.

First, the advanced math, science, English, and communication classes I completed at Mater Dei often provided me with an advantage in my Animal Sciences courses at U of I. In fact, Mater Dei’s dual credit classes fulfilled most of the general education courses required for my B.S. degree, which allowed me to enroll in more specialized Animal Science courses at U of I and then Ohio State. On a daily basis, I also still use many of the additional skills I learned at Mater Dei. (I wish I had paid more attention in Spanish!)

My involvement in athletics and clubs also nurtured the development of my integrity, communication skills, understanding of teamwork, and work ethic, all of which are important characteristics in the Ag business. And last, but not least, the environment at Mater Dei is one that cares about the success of students regardless of their career path. Being a teenager and being forced to make career decisions was not always easy, but having coaches and teachers to mentor and guide me to success is what I remember most.

Without my teachers and coaches at Mater Dei, I would not be where I am today. Thanks to all of you!”

Alex serves as a dairy technical specialist and consultant for Purina Animal Nutrition (at the time of this publication).
September 2022



Grace Chiarolanza ’15, Military Service

Bachelor of Science (Management), U.S. Air Force Academy

When asked how Mater Dei influenced her life, Grace stated, “Mater Dei’s focus on faith and education helped me tremendously during my tough days at the Air Force Academy (USAFA). Specifically, the English and math departments instilled a detail-focused mindset that proved very helpful while at USAFA. I was also involved in sports and extracurricular activities at Mater Dei, which taught me the importance of time management and how to handle the “work/life” balance. Finally, the faith foundation I received at Mater Dei pushed me to dig into God’s Word during college. I have since learned that it doesn’t matter what job I have here on Earth, as long as I’m doing everything for God’s glory. Though, I do love flying around the world ❤️.”

Grace serves as a U.S. Air Force pilot and is stationed at Travis Air Force Base, CA (at the time of this publication).
March 2022



Peyton Kreke ’17, Nursing

Bachelor of Nursing, Illinois State University

When asked how Mater Dei influenced his life, Peyton stated, “As a nurse in critical care, I look back and realize that Mater Dei first introduced me to serving others. It was in all my classes, extracurricular activities, and volunteer activities that I discovered I enjoy serving and caring for those in need. Now, my career involves ensuring my patients’ most basic needs are met. I believe that without Mater Dei, I would not have the motivation to work in the healthcare field with the most vulnerable patient population.

Additionally, I realize how strong of a foundational education I received at Mater Dei. I not only felt prepared to handle college education, but also was constantly supported to ensure acceptance into my college of choice. The transition to college was seamless because of the preparation I had at Mater Dei.

Finally, Mater Dei allowed me to earn dual credits in most of the general education courses I would have taken in college. By having those complete, I was able to start enrolling in nursing courses earlier and lighten the load of future semesters. For me, the benefits of attending Mater Dei were numerous!”

Peyton serves as an ICU registered nurse at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital (at the time of this publication).
February 2022



Ben Wiegmann’14, Agriculture

Associate of Science, Kaskaskia College
Bachelor of Science (Crop Science), University of Illinois
Master of Science (Crop Science), University of Illinois

When asked how Mater Dei influenced his educational and/or career path, Ben stated, “Despite the fact that Mater Dei does not offer an agriculture program, attending Mater Dei provided me with an excellent foundation that I could build upon. The courses and culture challenged me in ways that ultimately prepared me for college courses. Additionally, by not focusing on agriculture courses in high school, I was able to enroll in dual credit courses (at Mater Dei), which then allowed me to enroll in more agriculture classes within my major at an earlier time (and not worry about general education courses). Mater Dei played a vital role in my ability to achieve my goals!”

Ben serves as a field sales agronomist for Beck’s Hybrids (at the time of this publication).
January 2022