Alum of the Month

Class of 1993 graduate Jemollo Swanigan still remembers his days as a student at Holy Family fondly.


Although a lot has changed since Jemollo was a Holy Family student—the school has moved to aJemollo Swanigan location on Arthington, expanded, and his favorite teachers are no longer there, the lessons he learned more than 30 years ago remain.


“My favorite memories are of my two favorite teachers: Ms. Prater, and Ms. D.,” Jemollo shared. “They taught me to believe in myself and gave me the confidence that I could do anything I put my mind to.”


Jemollo took those lessons to heart. After graduating from Holy Family, he attended Culver Military Academy, then Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for two years, followed by a four-year carpenters apprenticeship. Now, he is a Construction Building Inspector for the City of Chicago.


“Holy Family prepared me for my future by instilling in me the power of positive thinking,” Jemollo said. “Believe in yourself even if odds are against you and take the necessary steps towards your dreams.”

Holy Family School was instrumental in helping mold Ernesha Patrick.

Before graduating in 1993, a Holy Family employee encouraged her to attend Culver Academy, a private boarding school in Indiana. Thanks to that advice, Ernesha attended Culver after graduating from high school. Her time at Culver prepared her for her four years at Fisk University, a historically Black college iA woman in a pink sparkly dress smiles slightly.n Nashville. There she graduated with a degree in Spanish Pre-Med. Ernesha then went on to graduate from the University of Phoenix with a MBA in Global Management. 

A lesson Ernesha learned during her time at Holy Family stuck with her during high school and beyond: Be a go-getter, always strive for your best, and don’t give up. That mindset has catapulted Ernesha to an impressive career as a project manager. She organizes, plans, and executes projects paying attention to details, budgets, and timeline. 

Thirty years later, Ernesha is still an active participant in activities and fundraisers at Holy Family. 


“I will always support Holy Family in some capacity,” Ernesha says.

Ernesha’s siblings Lundyn and Jaelen Davis are also Holy Family alumni.

Father. Husband. Veteran. Student. These are just a few of the titles class of 2005 alumnus John Pruitt has held since graduating from Holy Family.


John attended Rich South High School in Richton Park, Illinois. After graduating high school, John spent four years as a Signals Intelligence Analyst in the Air Force before enrolling at Robert Morris University. He graduated in 2017 with a degree in Health Science and Exercise and Sports Studies.


John is now a husband, a father, and a Computer Aided Design Programmer for a company that manufactures food processing equipment. If that wasn’t enough, John has also returned to school to study cybersecurity.


Although it’s been almost 20 years since John graduated from Holy Family, it’s still an important part of his life.A man in a light brown shirt that reads "Smells like Cocoa Butter" smiles brightly for the camera.


“Holy Family prepared me [for life after high school] because it introduced me to structure that I later on learned to apply it to my adult life,” John said. “I also met two of my good friends at Holy Family, Emone Moore and Shamartier Rose. They’ve been my best friends since we were nine years old and they were the best men at my wedding.”


The memories of his time at Holy Family also stick with John. He fondly remembers math and science classes being his favorite and class trips to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and Washington D.C. He’ll also never forget his favorite teachers, Mr. Lambert and Mr. Harrity.


“They believed in me from day one and regardless of how stubborn I was as a kid, they continued to help and support me and made me aware of my potential,” he said.


John remains grateful for the foundation for the rest of his life that Holy Family provided.


“The biggest lesson I learned at Holy Family is that anything is possible. I’m just a kid from the Westside of Chicago and I’ve traveled and lived across the world and experienced things that I’ve only read about. I learned that I can achieve anything I set my mind to if I work hard enough.”

Mr. Lambert and Mrs. Collins are two people at Holy Family that Ashlee Pitts will never forget. Mr. Lambert was Ashlee’s basketball coach and her teacher for first grade and middle school. Mrs. Collins was Ashlee’s principal during her time at Holy Family. Both people influenced Ashlee’s eventual career.


A Black woman with locs stands in front of a white wall and smiles brightly. She's wearing a green top that sparkles with sequins.

After graduating from Holy Family in 2007, Ashlee attended Walter Payton College Preparatory High School where she continued to play basketball. She went on to attend Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and studied political science with a minor in business and journalism.


Ashlee also taught English for three years to fifth and eighth graders—just like Mr. Lambert. She modeled her teaching style after her Holy Family middle school teacher. Her favorite thing to do with her students were reflections about what they learned—like she remembers doing with her classmates after chapel.


Now, Ashlee is a homeowner in Mississippi. She works as a data coach for a company connected to the Mississippi Department of Education. She helps struggling schools improve.

Class of 2014 alumnus Kiyla Jones is back in school – this time as a teacher. A lot of the lessons she learned during her time at Holy Family helped her get to where she is today.


Kiyla began attending Holy Family School in the fourth grade. She cherishes the relationships she developed with friends, faculty, and staff like Mr. Methling, Mr. Lambert, and Mrs. Collins. She still remains in touch with her friends and former teachers.


“Relationships play a big part in my life, and who I am today,” Kiyla said.


After graduating in 2014, Kiyla attended Noble Academy for high school. She felt prepared thanks to the discipline she learned at Holy Family. After graduating high school, she attended Denison University in Ohio and pursued two degrees: Communications and Black Studies with a Pre-Law Concentration.

A person stares at the camera directly with a white shirt, a blue jacket, a dark bow tie, and locs piled up on their head.


Remaining focused and disciplined helped Kiyla thrive in college because she was so busy. She joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., was a member of the executive board of the Black Student Union, sang in the gospel choir, and worked to pay the remaining balance of her tuition. Her academic scholarship covered the rest, but she had to ensure she kept her grades up to continue to receive the scholarship.


Relationships once again proved to be an important source of support. Kiyla has been friends with Class of 2014 alum Alasia Campbell since pre-school. The two went to Holy Family, Noble Academy and Denison together. They graduated in 2022.


Kiyla’s also learning the power of networking—it got her a job at her alma mater, Noble Academy. She’s thriving as a first-year teacher teaching world literature focused on Black and Latinx authors. She was also just awarded teacher of the month. It’s an honor Kiyla doesn’t take lightly.


“Although I’m getting paid, I’m doing a service to show these children that you can be me, and even better,” Kiyla shared.


Eventually, Kiyla plans to go to law school, get her Ph.D., and travel. She wants to be a lawyer and a judge. Although her journey to where she is now hasn’t been easy, Kiyla never gave up. She advises other students to do the same.


“Keep going, despite all the obstacles, keep going, and stay the course.”

Class of 2005 alum Shamartier Rose has become what he calls a “serial entrepreneur” since graduating from Holy Family. He’s been DJing, he started a record label, he’s been touring the world and now has his own wine company.


His journey after Holy Family started at Holy Trinity High School. He was awarded a full scholarship for all four years thanks to the recommendation of the principal at the time, Mrs. Collins. If it wasn’t for the scholarship, he would’ve had to attend his local public school which wasn’t a great option for him.


After graduating from Holy Trinity, Shamartier attended Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois but realized he didn’t want to enter the field he thought he did. He took a break from higher education for a few years to discover what he really loved. He fell in love with DJing and that led him down a new career path: music.Two men are sitting side by side with their arms around each other smiling broadly for the camera.


Shamartier began writing and producing music. He graduated from SAE Institute in Chicago in 2016 with a degree in music business. He then went on to start a record label and became a tour manager. He toured the world with a group called “The Cool Kids” and worked with rapper Doja Cat.


His days at Holy Family still bring up good memories. Wednesday chapel with Pastor Hunter, playing basketball, math class and science with Mr. Lambert were his favorites. And the lessons he learned still stick with him too.


Right now, Shamartier is running his own wine company named after himself. He also rents cars and teaches people how to build their credit.


“When I was a kid, I was just in school,” he said. “Now that I’m older I’m understanding that I’m using the tools I learned at school in my everyday life. It taught us structure, understanding, family.”

“My biggest takeaway was ‘Be a go-getter,’" says class of 2013 alumni Ashley Lofton. “Don’t be afraid to do anything. There are so many opportunities out there. You just have to be willing to take the risk.”


Ashley Lofton is grateful for the lessons Holy Family taught her. And she still uses them. She’s been taking advantage of all the opportunities coming her way.

Ashley Lofton


After graduating from Holy Family in 2013, she attended Trinity High School in River Forest, then attended Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois. In 2021, she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in finance with a minor in business administration.


Ashley dreams of a full-time job as a financial analyst. Eventually she wants to become a CEO and financial advisor. As she searches for her dream role, she is working as a supervisor at UPS. She’s also serving as the treasurer on the associate board for Esperanza in Chicago. It’s an organization that supports people living with mental disabilities.


She thinks highly of her time at Holy Family and keeps in contact with most of her former classmates. She will never forget her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Peavy who made a huge impact on her.


“She was always encouraging. She was my fourth-grade teacher. She was always there when you needed her. She had a good spirit.”


Asia Singleton, from Holy Family’s class of 2012, has been busy.


After graduating from Holy Family, she attended Josephinum Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls Catholic high school located in Wicker Park. From there, she attended Loyola University Arrupe College in Chicago to get her associate’s degree in arts and humanities, then Loras College in Iowa to get her bachelor of arts in media studies and finished her schooling at Loyola, receiving a master of art in communications with a concentration in digital media storytelling.

Asia Singleton


During her time at Loras, Asia got involved in LCTV, the student news station. She got experience working as a news producer, a news anchor, and working behind the scenes. Since she was in Iowa, she had the opportunity to interview presidential candidates ahead of the Iowa caucus, including Senator Bernie Sanders and current president, Joe Biden.


And Asia hasn’t stopped there. She won a Crystal Pillar award from the National Academy of Television (NATAS) for a PSA called “Get vaccinated.” Another piece she created about records called “On the Record” was nominated. A documentary she spent six weeks working on called “Southern Exposure” has been selected to be viewed at five film festivals across the country.

Now, Asia is working as a marketing/communications coordinator at the Center for Enriched Living, a non-profit that works with people with developmental disabilities. She promotes programs, showcases the members at the center, and works on the non-profit’s social media.


The lessons she learned at Holy Family still help her today.


“The biggest thing I took away from my time at Holy Family was perseverance and putting in the hard work, because success isn’t overnight,” she said.

Meet our Alumni Student of the month, Micah! Micah is a Holy Family Class of 2016 graduate. Micah went to Proviso Math and Science Academy for high school, and is currently attending Howard University, where she is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Legal Communications.
“What I loved about Holy Family during my time of attendance is the community aspect. I’ve always had a relationship with teachers and staff that extended beyond the classroom.”
Meet our Holy Family Class of 2014 Alumna Jaylen! Jaylen graduated from Wartburg College in May of 2022 with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Neuroscience and Psychology. Jaylen will be taking a gap year, before going to graduate school to pursue a Master’s degree specializing in Mental Health Counseling.

 Meet out our alum of the month DaShanna McGee! DaShanna is a Holy Family Class of 2014 graduate. DaShanna recently graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health with a concentration in Health Administration and Planning. After graduation, DaShanna plans on working in the medical field, getting her medical assistance certification, and getting her real estate license.