Alumnae profile: Mary '78 and Katie '15 Stempel


November 1, 2016

Stempel familyFor mother/daughter pair, Mary and Katie Stempel, the University of Portland is more than just a university; it’s where they both found their passion for helping others. Not only did Mary ’78 and Katie ’15 both graduate from UP’s School of Nursing, they happen to both work in women’s services and volunteer their time with the organization Faith in Practice.

“It’s fun to share so much in common and allows us to be involved in something together,” Katie said. “She likes to call me her ‘mini-me.”

Both Mary and Katie have fond memories of their time at the University. Mary, currently an on-call RN for Women’s Healthcare Associates, credits the School of Nursing with training her “to think.”

“We were encouraged to question and use our brains to think through any situation,” Mary said. “It’s a higher level of nursing to understand what is behind the technical stuff and feel confident and comfortable questioning others on the care team.”

During her time at UP, Mary worked at Kasier Hospital while being a full time student.

“I put myself through college by being a phlebotomist at Kaiser Hospital,” Mary said. “I loved taking the blood of the patients in the labor rooms and the ER. Those areas were always either relaxed and calm or chaotic and crazy.”

Katie currently works in women’s services at Legacy Emanuel through the RN residency program in postpartum and antepartum. She begins labor and delivery training next month.

“Not only did the School of Nursing prepare me extensively in academics, but it also taught me how to be the extraordinary nurse,” Katie said. “Through simulation labs, tests, and clinicals, I learned to critically think in all situations.”

During her time at the University, Katie studied abroad in Fremantle, Australia where she looks back fondly at the time. Among her favorite memories was the time she had the opportunity to stay with an Aboriginal family in the outback where they road camels, crabbed in the mangrove trees, and told ghost stories.

In addition to their nursing careers, both mother and daughter volunteer their time with the non-profit organization Faith in Practice, which provides short-term surgical, medical, and dental mission trips and health-related educational programs in Guatemala. After Mary’s husband Jim and son Andrew volunteered in 2002, both Mary and Katie became involved with the organization.

“I feel it is important to give back to the world in any way possible. Most of the Guatemalans have no access to healthcare and Faith in Practice is their only opportunity for life-changing care,” Katie said. “I feel so lucky to be able to spend time with my family in such a special way. Going through this experience continues to bond us.”

The Stempel family has continued their work together with Faith in Practice, bringing more than 40 team members a year since 2005 and typically seeing 90 patients in 4 days. Mary and Katie will be headed to Guatemala this March with a team that includes 3 UP students. Another Faith in Practice team is also taking 2 UP students to Guatemala. According to Mary, their teams have consisted of mostly School of Nursing alumni.

“I love working next to my daughter in Guatemala,” Mary said. “My heart just soars to see her so competent due to her great education at UP.” 


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