Mercy Skills Stay with Alumna
“Most people hear ‘tax’ or ‘accountant’ and think you must have a boring job. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Being willing to look at things (definitions, laws, tax regulations) in a different way, and the ability to express technical issues in plain English are skills I use every day. It is the writing skills (from journalism and creative writing classes) and critical thinking skills I learned at Mercy that help me the most,” said Liz James Joyce ’72.
The tax accountant for Union Pacific Railroad is retiring after 30 years with the company. She credits her success to skills she learned through activities inside and outside the classroom at Mercy.
“Yes, I do my share of number crunching, but a bigger part of the job is communicating ideas convincingly to peers, senior management, and IRS personnel. It takes teamwork and a lot of ‘people skills’ too,” she added.
During her time at Mercy Liz was involved in Concert Choir, the Math Field Day, the Creative Writing Club and more. One of her most influential moments was when a friend twisted her arm to take journalism her senior year. It forever changed her life.
“It was the one thing that most helped me prepare for college and a career. Instead of taking forever to decide how to start a term paper, I learned to just take the facts and jump in and write to meet the deadline,” Liz said.
She also found out that it was okay to think outside the box. She learned to work in groups and take risks. Her freshmen year she and her friends created an original play to introduce the class attitude and song, rather than the typical talent show. And in 1972 she obtained special permission to take a picture from the Holy Cross Church bell tower, the first new photo taken in years.
“What stays with me is the attitude to challenge the status quo, to work for what you want, and to enjoy the rewards of collegiality,” she explained.
She grew up near Mercy on Pine Street and has many fond memories of the May Crownings that took place outside at school that she would watch through the picket fence. After graduation, she attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) on a full-tuition scholarship. She took two years of advanced math courses, but decided teaching math was not what she wanted to do. She got married, started a family and eventually decided to go back to school at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Liz stays close to Mercy. She is a member of the Alumnae Council, attends many events, is a Donor of Distinction and since she has no daughters of her own, takes a Mercy Girl out for a celebration of Mercy Day annually.
“I love visiting with the girls. It is so rewarding to see them grow from shy eight graders into confident young women—to see the real impact Mercy can have on them,” she said.
Liz also participates in the mission by giving back to Mercy. She and her classmates started the “Class of 1972 Tuition Assistance Endowment.” Liz said giving each month, through an automatic bill pay and the matching corporate program through Union Pacific have made a real difference in her giving impact.
“I would say to others: decide what cause captures your passion and give what you can. Give steadily and regularly—whether it is your time or money. Stay close to the Spirit of Mercy—the joy of learning, the strength of faith and friendship, and the satisfaction of giving and sharing,” Liz said.
For her it has made all the difference!