Alumni Profiles

Marion, "Mimi," (Schwensen) Shafer

In January of 2024, we invited our oldest living alumnus to come back to campus! Marion (Schwensen) Shafer, or Mimi as she's affectionately called, is a 1942 graduate of Mount Marie, now Central Catholic, and will celebrate her 100th birthday in March!

Mimi had lunch with our students, toured the building, stopped in classrooms, chatted with students & staff, and shared stories with us. 

Students & staff alike enjoyed her visit, some classes even left their own rooms to come and find Mimi to spend time with her! It was a day that left everyone feeling #CrusaderProud!

Mimi has led a fascinating life yet she remains enthusiastic about her high school years at Mount Marie and was equally enthusiastic about all she encountered upon her visit and willing to share stories with our students and staff.
As a young child, her father’s medical practice took her family to Oklahoma where they lived and attended school with children from the Cherokee and Apache tribes. She proudly shared that her father improved conditions in Oklahoma by helping to establish hospitals and permanent housing.

Her father brought his medical practice to Canton before she began high school, and she attended Mount Marie Academy. Mimi shared that as they pulled up to the campus, she thought, “what A SCHOOL,” sharing that it was the most beautiful school she’d ever seen, the “castle on the hill,” a sentiment she still carries today.

While visiting with several classes in the Chapel, she was asked if much had changed on campus since she attended. She responded, “so much has changed, but the feeling in the school hasn’t. I still got that same feeling walking in that I did all those years ago when I first came.”

Mimi emphasized over and over to students how fortunate it is to attend a school like Central Catholic because it’s a special place, unlike any other. She had 59 girls in her graduating class, she said they were close then and many of them continued to stay in touch long after graduation and gathered in person on a regular basis.

Mimi attended Mount Marie during the war years. She remembers the nuns storing water in giant whiskey barrels on the 5th floor in preparation for emergencies. Mimi could recount the shared concern found in the school about the war and taking measures to save and preserve all they could in case of shortages.

Yet, despite attending school in turbulent times, she shared countless happy memories. She enjoyed learning a new language in her Spanish class. It was easy for her to recount participating in May Crowning each spring. She loved her art classes and music. Mimi shared the names of her teachers, the nuns, that made a lasting impact upon her.

She enjoyed visiting Theatre 303 and was pleased to see the variety of shows our students have staged over the years and all of the opportunities young thespians are offered today. Sharing that she participated in theatre at Mount Marie and remembered being in “Pride and Prejudice.”

On the 2nd floor, she marveled over the technology room which houses our laser engraver, vinyl printer, green screen and video equipment. In the new Renee Powell Learning Commons, she was impressed with the mural depicting the life of the Crusader alumna for whom the space is named, as well as the plans for the recently renovated area.

Her memories included those during school but also after school. She recalled staying after school or riding her bike back to campus to participate in a variety of activities. She laughed recalling the “ugly” green jumpers the girls wore for gym class or after school activities like basketball which she loved to play.

One day, she said, as she pulled into school, she recalls the nuns standing out the in yard with a watering can in the dead of winter to create an ice-skating rink for the girls. After school, the girls flocked to the temporary rink.

Mimi and friends would ride their bike back to campus after school because it was the place to be. One day, work had begun on the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, so she and a friend rode back to school to check it out and they both got to lay down some of the original rocks which are still there today!

She was impressed to learn of recent updates to the Grotto, including a walking Rosary which was painted by our art students. Mimi has a passion for the arts, she spent considerable time on our Arts Floor. She was impressed at the variety of art classes (14) we offer, especially of all the space dedicated to the arts, a classroom for drawing and painting, a separate studio for ceramics, a kiln and a dark room, plus a classroom dedicated to graphic arts. Students in our digital arts class shared their latest projects with her and she was amazed at their work.

Mimi knows her stuff when it comes to the arts. Not only is she a brilliant painter, but she also had an impressive career in the field. She worked with Lewis Lane doing opera work and attended the Westminster Conservatory. Mimi worked for George Gallop and did work at Radio City Music Hall.

She and her husband lived in Berea where she was with the Cleveland Symphony, the Bach Festival, and at Baldwin Wallace. She raised 3 children in Berea, eventually moving to Indiana where she was in the Indiana Symphony.

After 11 years in Indiana, her family moved to Illinois where she continued to share her talents in painting, sculpture, poetry, and voice. Her career has included singing at Carnegie Hall, singing with the New York Philharmonic, and the Canton Symphony.

In recent years, she has returned to Ohio and settled in Strongsville with her daughter. Her daughter is in the midst of planning Mimi’s 100th birthday party which will be celebrated here on campus.

As much as Mimi seemed to enjoy being back on campus, it was clear that what she enjoyed most is people. She lit up each time a new class, student, or staff member took a moment to speak with her. The entire staff and most of the student body knew that Mimi was visiting and made a point to say hello or talk with her for a moment. EVERY SINGLE time, she had a way of showing enthusiasm for each person and a willingness to share stories with them and to hear theirs.

Our visit with Mimi was a vivid reminder of what it means to be a Crusader….The connection our students of today have with the alumni who walked these halls decades before them. The spirit of excellence that still lives in our hallways. The tradition and history that our graduates take with them. And of course, the reminder of what it means to be part of the Crusader family, who all look to the “tower,” our “castle on the hill,” with a feeling that’s hard to put into words.

Archived Profile: Cindy Starchman Hruby

This heartfelt statement was shared with us. It was a social media status written by one of our Crusader graduates...

"I’m a Catholic school teacher today because of a number of wonderful teachers that I had growing up. One of those teachers was Mrs. Maria Leone Dick, who played a pivotal role in my formation as a person of faith and as a teacher. Today, 30 years after I graduated, she made the drive up to Cleveland to spend the afternoon with me, tour Ignatius, and catch up. What a treat to show my high school teacher my own classroom." 

That's what we are all about: dedicated staff, creating long-lasting and meaningful relationships, faith development, inspiring students to pursue their most meaningful futures, pride in our students, and care for one another! #TheCentralCatholicDifference

Archived Profile: Kayleigh Hanlin, Class of 2007

Kayleigh Hanlin, is a 2007 Central Catholic graduate, who took the time stop by her alma mater in February to visit with her former teachers and share what she’s been doing since her graduation. Kayleigh has been working in the publishing and education space. Currently, she is the Purchasing Coordinator for the Junior Library Guild and is co-owner of Empowered Minds, a company with a mission to spread the message of self-love, confidence and empowerment. In September of 2018 she co-authored and published her first book called J.O.Y. (Just Own You) Journal. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Otterbein University. She is a Young Alumni Board member at Otterbein University and is an active volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana.During her visit, she sat down to share some of her thoughts and answer some questions about her experience at Central.

What would you say was special about your experience at Central?
My experience at Central was unique because I was a name, not a number or a face in the crowd. I was known personally by teachers and administrative staff alike (hopefully, most of that was in a good way, haha). They could provide more guidance and advice by knowing me, my personality and my background than they would have been able to if I was in a sea of hundreds of kids.

What do you think is our school’s greatest asset?
The community. You really form meaningful and life-lasting relationships with your classmates, teachers, and staff. My friends from high school and I have watched each other graduate from college, get married, move across states, change jobs and start families. Through all life events, we still maintain our friendship.

How did Central Catholic prepare you for future success?
During high school, I was able to join several different student organizations, try different clubs and activities so I could discover what I liked and didn’t like. I was active on the Speech & Debate Team and the Drama Club. Those experiences helped me to come out of my shell and discovered I enjoyed public speaking. It prepared me to be able to talk to anyone in my career, without feeling awkward and allowed me to make genuine connections.

To learn more about Kayleigh’s company or to explore her JOY Journal, visit

Archived Profile: Tricia Ostertag, Class of 1999

Congratulations to Tricia Ostertag,1999 graduate and the 1999 Tower of Light Winner who recently earned a Ph.D. in Public Administration from the University of Akron. Dr. Ostertag’s dissertation was “Using Creative Placemaking and Community-led Design to Revitalize Downtowns: A Study of Canton, OH.” She currently serves the community as Vice President of ArtsinStark and is an adjunct professor at Walsh and Kent Stark. Dr. Ostertag shared with us that she "credits her years at Central for teaching her the value of public service, to which she’s committed her life ever since." We're proud to have a long line of esteemed alumni who put into action the lessons we teach at CCHS, that it is important to give back to your community!

Archived Profile: Mark Mokros, Class of 2016

Mark has experienced great success at Walsh University. His Walsh Men's Basketball Team recently represented the Great Midwest Athletic Conference in the new National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Top-25 Poll! Personally, Mark was ranked third in the conference in triples made with 53! 

We had a chance to catch up with Mark when he was awarded his G-Mac Championship award during our Catholic School Day with the Cavs. He shared that “his experience at CCHS and St. Mary Elementary School helped him make the decision to become an educator because of the relationships he built over those years with both students and staff." Mark said the staff at both schools will always hold a special place in his heart! 

Have something to share?

Please inform our Director of Development, Tricia Ostertag, by email at [email protected] or by phone at 330.478.2131.  

Need to update your contact information? Visit our alumni update form.

Please note, this page is updated on a quarterly basis.
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