Ana Maria Sauthoff Soler, EdD, began her Stuart journey in 1987 in the preschool at Stuart. She graduated in 2002, spending 15 years as a Stuart student and earning her the coveted "lifer" status. Her mother, Ana Figueroa Sauthoff '68, is also a Stuart alumna, and together, they hold the honor of being the first mother-daughter graduates of our school (though Annie's young son will not be able to graduate from Stuart, he will be the first third-generation Stuart student next fall when he joins our Early Childhood Program). However, their family's tradition of Sacred Heart education actually reaches back much, much further. Annie's mother graduated from Stuart in 1968 after attending the Sacred Heart school in Havana, Cuba, and the Sacred Heart school in Lima, Peru. Her grandmother graduated from the Sacred Heart school in Santiago de Cuba, and incredibly, women in Annie's family have graduated from Sacred Heart schools going back 200 years to Spain—around the same time St. Rose Philippine first brought Sacred Heart education to America.
Returning to Stuart as coordinator of service learning and campus ministry has brought Annie full circle. She says a theme of her life so far has been, "To recognize human dignity within each person because God created us. This has really driven all of the major decisions of my life, and I learned that here at Stuart. I learned that I have a responsibility to uphold this dignity, and I also realized that not everybody in the world necessarily agrees. Fortunately, Stuart gave me a voice and taught me when and how to use that voice—giving me the confidence to explain or to act in order to affect change—in my case, in the lives of young people."
Annie has dedicated her time and studies to social justice work, not just here at Stuart, but across the country, and indeed, all over the world. She attended St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia because of its mission to create "men and women with and for others," where she led student retreats and service trips to places such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Tanzania. She earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and master's in experimental psychology before joining the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) in California. With JVC, she served as an outreach coordinator at a school for homeless children, followed by a move to the San Francisco Bay Area to work with marginalized urban youth, assisting them in their pursuit to be the first in their families to attend college. Simultaneously, Annie completed a Doctorate in international and multicultural education, with an emphasis on human rights and organizational leadership at the University of San Francisco. After graduating, she returned with her husband to New Jersey, to Stuart and to St. Charles Borromeo parish to work with the next generation of young people, helping them to open their eyes to the world and finding ways to serve God by serving those less fortunate.
Listen to our podcast interview with Dr. Annie Soler '02 at www.stuartschool.org/podcast