CEC Staff

Career Education Center Staff


Joanna Patterson, Director


Joanna Patterson, Director of Career Education, 2012


  • M.S. Administrative Leadership (Adult Education emphasis), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • B.S. Education (Urban Education emphasis), Indiana University – Bloomington
  • Nominated and awarded placement in the Urban Semester Intensive Study Project

Professional Experience

Joanna Patterson has spent over three decades of her professional life in diverse roles in the field of education. The last two (decades) have been focused on Career Education (counseling, teaching and program design), an area she finds significantly satisfying. In addition to individual counseling appointments with students and alumnae, she teaches career planning courses designed to meet the developmental needs of first year (PPS-129) through upper level (PS/PCM 411) students. Joanna presents on career topics throughout the curriculum, as well as to prospective students and their families. She has facilitated training on diverse professional development topics for academic and professional audiences in the Greater Milwaukee Area. Joanna was the recipient of the Flame of Excellence recognition awarded by the Metro Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) for her work with MMAC scholars. She also enjoys her role as the advisor for the Alverno Circle K International student philanthropic organization, for which she won recognition in 2010 for service at the district level.

Joanna joined the Alverno College Career Education Center in 1990 as the Career Programs Manager, was promoted to Assistant Director in 1995 and to Director in 2010.

Interesting Career Fact: The first job Joanna had upon her move to Milwaukee was to design and facilitate a professional development/career readiness curriculum for participants in a summer CESA program offered through the Children’s Outing Association.


Debra Chomicka, Senior Career Specialist & Adjunct Career Education Faculty 


Debra Chomicka, Senior Career Specialist, 2012


  • M.A. History (East European emphasis), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Honors Graduate, Polish Language and Culture Summer Program, Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland
  • Certificate, Russian and East European Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • B.A. Anthropology (Native American emphasis), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Professional Experience:

Debra Chomicka (pronounced “ho-MEETZ-kah”) has 25 years’ experience in career counseling, teaching and programming. With strong professional and academic background in the arts and social sciences, Debra has a strong belief in the value and marketability of a liberal arts education. At Alverno, she teaches career planning courses for first year students (PPS-129) and for upper level students in the School of Business (MGT 384), and also is an ad hoc instructor on career development topics in courses throughout the curriculum.  Additionally, she has delivered targeted training programs on career decision-making, employee motivation, leadership, and professional development issues to a variety of local and national businesses, as well as professional and academic audiences. Through UNESCO, she has taught career planning techniques to high school students in Cracow, Poland.

Debra joined Alverno Career Education Center as Career Programs Manager in 1986, was promoted to Assistant Director in 1990, to Director in 1995, and took on the roles of Senior Career Specialist and Adjunct Career Education Faculty in 2010. 

Interesting Career Fact: Prior to her Alverno career, Debra worked as a free-lance trombonist, music teacher, and advertising specialist for the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel.


Jessica May, Career Specialist & Communications Coordinator


Jessica May, Career Specialist, 2012


  • M.Ed., College Student Personnel Administration, Marquette University
  • B.A., Communication Studies, University of Minnesota

Professional Experience

Jessica joined the Alverno Career Education Center in 2010, after completing her graduate education. In her role, she advises students and alumnae on all aspects of their job search, as well as career and major exploration. Jessica also manages the functioning of Alverno LINKS, Alverno’s online job and internship board, and teaches PPS 129, a 1-credit career exploration and planning course for second semester freshmen.

Prior to coming to Alverno, Jessica spent 5 years in the Student Health Service at Marquette University, where she designed electronic and print communications to promote student health programs and services. During that time, she began working toward her master’s degree and spent a year as a Career Advisor in Marquette’s Career Services Center, meeting with students individually and leading career workshops.

Interesting Career Fact: Jessica began her college career as a Genetics major, prior to finding her love of Communications.


Celestine Schall, SSSF, Career Coach


 Celestine Schall, Career Coach, 2012


  • M.S. Education Administration (Emphasis in Adult Education), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • B.S. Education, Alverno College
  • Career Development Certificate, UCLA
  • Creative Training and Development Certificate, University of Georgia

Professional Experience:

The students of Alverno College are indeed fortunate in having the opportunity to be guided during their career exploration and decision-making process by Celestine Schall, SSSF. Recognized among educators as a pioneer in the field of career development, Celestine founded the Career Development Program and established the first internship program at Alverno. Celestine brings an extraordinary depth of knowledge and experience to her current role as a Career Coach in the Career Education Center.   

Throughout her tenure and in all of her roles (e.g. Director of Advising; Coordinator of and Associate Professor in the Adult Education minor; Assistant Dean of Student Development; and Career Development [now Education] Director) at Alverno, Celestine has made service to students, the college and members of the greater Milwaukee community her focus. She continues to maintain active involvement in the Milwaukee business and service communities, not surprising considering Celestine’s history of development and mentoring!

Celestine has received numerous educational and civic awards, including: Excellence in Training Award and Outstanding Leadership Award from the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD); Outstanding Contribution Award: Career Search Program from the Wisconsin College Personnel Association (WCPA); and the Outstanding Contributions Award as Regional Manager of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL).

Interesting Career Fact: From 1995 to 1999 Celestine, served as Provincial Coordinator (an elected position) for the U.S. Province of School Sisters of St. Francis.


Sandy Pikulik, Administrative Assistant 


Sandy Pikulik, Administrative Assistant, 2012

Professional Experience:

As the Administrative Assistant for the Career Education Center (CEC), Sandy is often the first person recruiters, students and alumnae contact. Using her strong interactive, organizational, and computer skills, she coordinates on-campus recruiting events (e.g. career fairs), the graduate survey process, and manages counselor’s schedules and the CEC office.

Sandy studied at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point before returning to the Milwaukee area and joining Alverno College. With almost 20 years of experience at the College, Sandy knows Alverno. She started as the Main Receptionist at the Information Desk. Later, she transferred to the Advising Office, where she worked as Lead Secretary for several years. In 1999, she returned to Alverno College in the Career Education Center, in her current position.   

Interesting Career Fact: Sandy worked at Jos. Schlitz Brewing Co. in the Engineering department, before starting a family. As a “stay-at- home” mom, she worked part-time as a floral designer at a flower shop. She worked at the Shorewood School District for over 8 years as Administrative Assistant to the Director of Instruction, prior to returning to Alverno College in the Career Education Center.