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Alumni Spotlight: Bridget (Tucker) Esslinger '03

Bridget (Tucker) Esslinger '03 is moving back to Indianapolis' Eastside with her husband, Greg, and 15-month-old son Declan.

Name: Bridget (Tucker) Esslinger
Year of Scecina Graduation: 2003
College/University: Marian University
Degree: Bachelor of Science, Nursing
Most Recent Position: Registered Nurse in the Surgical Department at The Ortho Hospital of Fort Wayne

By George T. Newhart '60

Bridget came to Scecina from a township school in the Indianapolis area, where the emphasis on academics and school citizenship was not as strong as what she found at Scecina Memorial High School. “When I joined the Scecina family, I heard the phrase ‘Never be afraid to be smart,’ Bridget says. “It was empowering to embrace honors classes and be surrounded by students who weren’t worried about whether or not being smart was cool.”

Scecina’s positive environment improved her confidence and self-esteem. Bridget’s hard work and dedication as a Scecina student paid off in a full-tuition scholarship to Marian University, where she earned her nursing degree.

At Scecina, Spanish teacher Judy Nichols encouraged Bridget to apply for the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Languages. She was accepted and studied in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, during the summer between her junior and senior years at Scecina. Bridget believes the encouraging environment, accompanied by the strong support from Senora Nichols, made this outstanding learning and life experience possible.

“Looking back, my study abroad experience was the pivotal experience of my life,” Bridget recalls. “It taught me cultural and social tolerance, self-reliance, responsibility, and it also gave me the ability to see the world with greater understanding. This unique experience helped me determine that I wanted to serve people as a nurse and explore the world. I am thankful for the faith Señora Nichols had in me. Teachers like her are what make Scecina special.”

Bridget has made numerous trips to Central America and Europe since that first study-abroad trip in high school. With a previous employer, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, she traveled to Guatemala. In the town of Retalhuleu, she and the medical team focused on general (appendectomies, hernia repairs, etc.), and gynecology surgeries (fibroid removal, hysterectomies) as well as dental care.

Bridget believes the faith-based learning and values she developed at Scecina made her realize the importance of service to community. She recently volunteered with Catholic Charities of Fort Wayne. In her role as a “homework helper,” Bridget tutored Burmese children from kindergarten through 12th grade. They are children of the Muslim faith whose parents have immigrated to the Fort Wayne area. “Learning to live my faith by example, instead of forcing it upon anyone, has enabled me to interact with, work for and serve those of many different backgrounds without hesitation or discomfort,” Bridget says. “From mandatory service hours – which showed me the immense number of opportunities to volunteer – to the simple, voluntary practice of being a good steward, Scecina holds its students to a high level of living a Catholic life.”

At Scecina, Bridget also participated in the Student Ambassador program, where she learned to interact professionally with various Scecina stakeholders, such as financial donors. Training from that program set the foundation for her pursuit of higher education, and her career development.

As a member in Scecina’s student government, Bridget was responsible for the planning and development of various activities and events. This experience and skill carried over to the present, as Bridget devoted extensive time and effort to helping plan the 10-year reunion for her Scecina Class of 2003.

Bridget also participated in sports at Scecina, as a member of the tennis and track teams. Frequently, she found Scecina competing against much larger schools, but always giving one’s all, win or lose. Competing in sports taught her “that there will always be somebody better than you, but if you work hard, at the end of the day, you can be proud of what you’ve done.”

Bridget believes excellent teachers and dedicated staff help maintain Scecina’s core values. Because of the appropriate student-teacher ratio, there is a strong commitment to reaching every student.

Bridget feels it is very important to keep in touch with Scecina. She says she has an obligation to those who paved the way for her to attend Scecina and also to help others stay connected to the school.

”Whether you’re the student, alumnus, parent, sibling, teacher, donor, or simply a fan of the school, we see each other as family and are treated as such,” she says. “We’ve been a part of the same Eastside community for decades and take pride in that fact. We have a legacy we honor with our commitment to our future’s successes.”

Bridget is moving back to Indianapolis from Fort Wayne to be closer to family and friends on the Eastside. She and her husband, Greg, bought a home in Irvington and they and 15-month-old son Declan will move sometime this summer. Bridget hopes to return to nursing part time and explore more volunteer opportunities once the family is settled in Indianapolis.

George T. Newhart, CPA, is a graduate of the Class of 1960 and member of the Scecina Board of Directors.

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