There wasn’t a dry eye in the packed out pews at our Catholic School’s Mass on Sunday when the winner of the 2018 St Anne Distinguished Graduate Award was announced. Mary Zamberlin’s story of excellence, courage, and faith is a gift to everyone in our community. We’ve reprinted Mary Sherman’s speech below … it’s well worth your time to read.
Each year, in collaboration with the National Catholic Educational Association, our school recognizes a graduate who exemplifies the qualities we hope to instill in our students. Someone who is an active person of faith, a life-long learner, globally aware and well-balanced – our Student Learning Expectations. The author Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote,
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known lost and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Ms. Kubler-Ross could well be talking about our 2018 Distinguished Graduate. Mary Frances Zamberlin was born to longtime parishioners Colleen and Tony Zamberlin on January 18 th , 1965. The youngest of 7 children (all whom attended St. Anne School) Mary developed strength, determination and how to be a fighter, especially with 5 older brothers!
Mary entered St. Anne School as a first grader in 1971. She was a strong student, never earning less than a B over the span of her 8 years. Mary’s teachers wrote on her permanent record card, “An excellent student; generous and well-liked by her peers; and very conscientious” and classmate, Jennifer Gleason Hyde said, “Mary was always the one who all of the boys had crushes on. She was smart, athletic, super competitive and the cutest in the class.”
After 8th grade graduation, Mary went on to the Matteo Ricci program at Seattle Prep. She was a strong student and a talented athlete. Mary ran Cross-Country and in 1980 her team won the state championship. Last summer, Mary and her team were inducted into the Seattle Prep Athletic Hall of Fame for their accomplishments. Jennifer Hyde described her as a “gazelle” who left everyone in the dust behind her. One time Mary encouraged Jennifer to join the Cross-Country team inviting her on a training run around the boulevard. Little did Jennifer realize, but Mary’s training run was not a loop around the top of Queen Anne. It was 3 loops and over ten miles! Jennifer remained a tennis player 🙂
Following graduation from Settle Prep, Mary attended Santa Clara University and then transferred to the University of Washington where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in French. She moved to Leon, France and completed her Master’s degree.
When Mary returned to Seattle, she enrolled in the PHD program at University of Washington. During that time, Mary taught French to undergraduate students at the U. She also authored a book, still in publication today, titled Rhizosphere on the superiority of American Literature. Dr. Mary Zamberlin continued her educational career teaching French to students at Seattle Prep, Villa Academy and most recently, Mercer Island High School.
Life was pretty close to perfect for Mary. She had a good career, a beautiful daughter, Margo (currently a senior at Holy Names Academy) a nice home in the Greenwood area and she and husband Jeff were about to welcome twins to their family.
On Feb.18th 2007, Mary gave birth to healthy and happy twin girls Anna and Lauren. Just eight days later, on the evening of February 26th Mary suffered a massive stroke as she was getting into a relaxing bath. Rushed to the hospital and immediately into surgery to release pressure on her brain, Mary fell into a deep coma. More surgeries followed and the prognosis was not good. Doctors told the family that if Mary was to live, she would be in a care facility for the remainder of her life, unable to care for herself.
During her month-long stay in the hospital, her room was filled with visitors and her Mercer Island High School students made banners and cards that covered the room. They came and sang French songs to her. Family and friends prayed by her bedside. And then, Mary came out of her coma. The fighter and the competitor in Mary took hold. Mary had to learn how to walk, talk, and eat again. And the thought that she would remain in a care facility forever was completely unacceptable to her. She worked day in and day out with doctors, therapists, nurses and family members to get stronger. And it worked. Soon there was talk that she could move into her mother’s Queen Anne home, which she did. But living on her own? Not an option.
Never put a challenge in front of Mary. Today she lives in her own apartment across the street and can be seen walking for hours around the block surrounding the school. She uses the steps and railings outside the church to do exercises to strengthen her upper body. She swims at the Queen Anne pool and walks to Trader Joe’s for groceries. She recently started a “Soirée” at her apartment, inviting French speaking friends to spend the evening sharing a meal and conversing in French.
Throughout these past 11 years, Mary has never lost faith, in fact, she says it is her deep Catholic faith and the support of her family that has gotten her through. It is with great pleasure that I present our 2018 Distinguished Graduate Award to Dr. Mary Frances Zamberlin.