The joys of being a Creighton mom

Apr 25, 2022

With Mother’s Day this month, we asked a group of moms to tell us what they love most about their children going to Creighton.

Featured Testimonial About Creighton University

Images of Creighton students and their mothers.

Parents know that when you send your child to Creighton, you're leaving them with family.

Want to get involved as a Creighton parent? Learn about the Parent Fund and the Parent and Family Leadership Council. You can help in many other ways, as well. Learn how to become a mentor, host events or help recruit students.

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By Micah Mertes

A few summers ago, Siobhan Duffy Kline, BSN’93, brought her daughter, Micaela Kline, to Creighton for a campus visit.

While they were getting a tour, Siobhan noticed a sign with the name of Mary Kunes-Connell, PhD. “She was my favorite professor,’” Siobhan told her daughter and the tour guide.

“Next thing you know, we were in the hallway of Criss, and there was Dr. Kunes-Connell standing there,” Siobhan says. “It was such a neat reunion.”

Micaela is now a sophomore in the College of Nursing, and Siobhan says seeing the Creighton of today through her daughter’s experiences has made her “even more proud to be a Bluejay.”

Alumni or not, many Creighton parents have a special bond to the University.

Alumni parents love to see the iconic places, how much campus has changed and how much the foundations remain. Non-alumni parents feel a faith and trust in Creighton, says Judy Pritza, BSN'92, MS'96, director of Parent and Family Programs and a mother of two current students herself.

“Parents know that when you send your child to Creighton, you're leaving them with family,” she says. “Whether Creighton is 10 miles or 10,000 miles from home, you get the same sense that your children are in a place that’s going to take care of them and help them succeed. That means a lot as a mother.”

With Mother’s Day this month, we spoke with a handful of moms about the joys of being a Creighton parent. (See our Creighton dads edition here.) They talked about what they love about Creighton and the peace of mind that comes with knowing your children are in good hands.

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Creighton mother: Pam Hoeffel

The Hoeffel family
The Hoeffel family

Lives in: Woodbury, Minnesota

Children: Katherine Hoeffel, nursing junior; Sam Hoeffel, BS’21; Max Hoeffel, BS’19

Pam has always seen college as a bridge for her children, the essential step in getting them from who they are to who they want to become.

“And Creighton has been just the bridge they needed,” she says. “I’ve had a confidence in Creighton since day one. And the University has followed through on everything they said they would do and more.”

One of her favorite things about being a Creighton parent is seeing the passion and curiosity the University has ignited in her children.

As students, they’ve been able do undergraduate research (one of them while in Ghana). They’ve made lifelong relationships with their professors. They’ve taken theology classes and found ways to deepen the faith and values they were raised on.

“While they were taking a theology class, one of them told me, ‘Mom, I know you were my confirmation teacher, so don’t take this the wrong way, but I just now realized the Bible is a really amazing book,’’’ Pam says with a laugh. “I said, ‘I don’t care how you figure that out, just as long as you figure it out.’”

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Creighton mother: Kimberly Gill

The Gill family
The Gill family

Lives in: Sun Valley, Idaho

Son: Riley Gill, junior in the Heider College of Business

Kimberly remembers feeling that Creighton was special from the early days of Riley’s college visits and application process.

“For Riley choosing to come to Creighton, I have to give the admissions team credit,” she says. “They made him feel wanted. He felt pursued, and that sense of pride really carried over to his efforts and results. He felt like there was a caring team behind all of it.

“With his current experiences as a student, with classes, internship opportunities and lifelong friends and their families, we truly couldn’t be happier,” Kimberly says. “I’m always recommending Creighton to friends with college-age students.  In fact, I’m hopeful my youngest son will also end up there.”

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Creighton mother: Anne Coffey, BSN’71

Lives in: Omaha

The Coffey family
The Coffey family

Children: Kevin Coffey, BA’06; Katherine Coffey, DDS’06; Stephen Coffey, BS’00, DDS’04; Michael Coffey, BS’99, MD’06

For a few years, all four of Anne’s children attended Creighton at the same time, three of them graduating on the same day at the Civic Auditorium. (Commencement 2006 was a very long day.)

“Watching them at Creighton was a great experience all the way around,” Anne says. “They all chose to go to Creighton on their own, but we were happy with their decision. We knew they’d get a great education, and we knew that the size of campus really lends itself to meeting great friends you keep forever.”

Anne knows this from experience. She’s been in a bridge group with the same crew of Creighton friends since her own graduation.

The Coffey family’s Creighton experience is far from over.

“I was just talking to my granddaughter on Easter,” Anne says. “She’s only 8, but she says she’s going to Creighton University.”

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Creighton mother: Dr. Marleen Masuoka

Marleen and her daughters
Marleen and her daughters

Lives in: El Dorado, California

Children: Olivia Dishno, junior in the College of Arts and Sciences; Morgan Dishno, BS’19, M2 in the School of Medicine

One of Marleen's favorite Creighton-related memories is going to the Dominican Republic to work alongside one of her daughters, who was working as a student coordinator for a summer health clinic. 

"I was amazed at the cooperation, compassion and talent of the students from Creighton's undergraduate and professional health care programs," Marleen says. "My daughters have both experienced many service opportunities through Creighton in the U.S. and abroad. These experiences have given them the chance to be part of a community outside their own, experiencing different cultures, working hard with their fellow students and giving to communities in need."

That her children have grown and continue to grow from such experiences is extremely rewarding as a parent, Marleen says. 

"College is a unique time in a student’s life to develop their independence, interests and autonomy. Even if my daughters had chosen a university closer to home and not two flights away, I would want to give them this space for growth. Knowing Creighton is invested in the health and well-being of its students certainly is assuring."  

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Creighton mother: Suzanne Kotula, BSN’85

The Kotula family
The Kotula family

Lives in: Omaha

Children: Anna Kotula, junior in the College of Arts and Sciences; Adam Kotula, BS’17

“It just feels like home for our family,” Suzanne says of campus. “It has even more of a community feeling than when I was a student. Creighton has come a long way and keeps improving.”

(One example: Suzanne says the cafeteria food is much better than it was in 1985.)

Yet some things remain the same. The Creighton values, for instance. The call to service. The focus on forming leaders.

Suzanne says it’s been a joy to watch her children grow — as students, as leaders, as people — and to see them walk many of the same paths that helped define her own life, from the Mall to Kiewit Hall.

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Creighton mother: Cindy Tavares

The Tavares family
The Tavares family

Lives in: Holualoa, Hawaii                                                                                   

Son: Hunter Tavares, sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences

Hunter might be far from home, but there's such a strong connection between Hawaii and Creighton — and such a strong support network at the University and among Creighton parents in Hawaii — that Cindy feels at ease.

"It's very important that he is in a safe place that is really student- and family-oriented, with the focus on ensuring the students are welcomed into the Creighton family and the resources are there in case we have any questions," Cindy says. 

She says she and Hunter's Creighton experience has been top-notch. It's been a joy to see him grow into a leader and pick up new skills — such as learning the Haka, Hula performances through the Hawaii Club.

"I love to hear that he's enjoying his classes and enjoying being with his friends and learning about himself."

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Creighton mother: Maureen Huldin

Maureen and Grayson Huldin at freshman dropoff.
Maureen and Grayson Huldin at freshman dropoff.

Lives in: Beverly Hills, Michigan

Son: Grayson Huldin, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences

The Huldins have a dozen people coming in for Grayson’s Creighton graduation this May.

The extended family has just learned so much about Creighton from Grayson and his parents these past four years that everyone’s excited to finally see campus.

Though Creighton is a good distance away, Maureen and her husband, Donald Huldin, have been able to visit campus at least once nearly every semester.

It’s been a pleasure, Maureen says, to see Grayson so involved, in everything from poster presentations to rugby matches. He’s also been able pursue his passion across his dual majors of chemistry and theology, studying abroad in Uganda and working on a project translating the Bible into Greek.

“He’s developed a nice, independent life while growing and exploring his options,” Maureen says. “But what’s most important to me is that he’s happy, and Grayson has been very happy at Creighton.”

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Creighton mother: Stephanie McGuire

Lives in: Houston, Texas

Children: Deia McGuire, junior in the Heider College of Business; David McGuire, BSEVS’21, current student in the School of Law; Riley McGuire, BSBA’20

“The first time we visited Creighton, we were consistently greeted with smiles,” Stephanie says. “After visiting other prospective colleges, the ‘Creighton fit’ became immediately self-evident. Our experiences, several years and three students later, re-affirms our first impressions.”

One of Stephanie's favorite things about being a Creighton parent is seeing how her children are learning through doing.

Her daughter, for instance, is an accounting major who participated in an on-campus clinic to assist people in filing their tax returns. One of her sons took a course in Native American culture and was able to participate in tribal activities.

“It’s one thing to read the tax code, and it’s one thing to study a culture;” Stephanie says. “It’s a completely different experience to sit with a client or the people of a tribe. Understanding through life experience outstrips any lecture.”

Stephanie says she’s also taken comfort from the smaller class sizes, dorm configuration and support system Creighton has provided for her children. They always know where to find someone if they need help, she says.

Another perk of being a Creighton mother, Stephanie says, is getting to join the Creighton community.

“It’s always fun to meet people with Creighton connections in unlikely places. There have been many, many times (when we’re wearing our Creighton gear) that we’ve been approached by people who are Creighton alumni or parents or Omaha residents. It’s a pleasure to hear their Creighton stories.”