SXU - A Family Tradition: The Panozzos
In celebration of 175 years of Mercy education, our Legacy Family series honors the generations of families committed to advancing the SXU mission.
Saint Xavier University (SXU) legacy family Jim '77, Sarah '21 and Mike Panozzo all have a special place in their hearts for Saint Xavier, and they all share a common goal to carry on the mission within their communities.
Jim studied social science with a minor in physical education and coaching while at Saint Xavier. After graduating, he began teaching physical education in public school and then spent 35 years teaching physical education in Catholic school, receiving Teacher of the Year award in 2000. He was elected to the SXU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004. With his wife, he started a charitable foundation over 20 years ago, fundraising for Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Jim was drawn to his field of study because he was interested in becoming a teacher and coach, and he always enjoyed learning about history and had a love of sports. Though he is currently only teaching part-time after spending 40 years in education, he enjoys staying involved with the kids. Jim believes SXU laid the foundation for his career, as he has wonderful professors, academic advisors and coaches.
While at SXU, Jim played on the men's baseball team, tracked the baseball team's stats, was a member of the APA Society, worked in AV, and served as a student council representative.
Sarah studied education at Saint Xavier. She was the women's cross country and track team manager. She was also involved in the SXU Bonner Scholars, who did various service projects throughout the Oak Lawn community. She was part of the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society her senior year. She always enjoyed attending the annual Homecoming events, such as the bonfire and football game.
Sarah was drawn to study education because she always wanted to be a teacher growing up and wanted to follow in her father's footsteps. Once she began studying early childhood education, she loved the field from the start. Sarah found SXU to be incredibly supportive and enjoyed the benefits of studying at a smaller university, where she could always receive help for her specific learning needs and one-on-one support. She especially appreciated Margaret Rose McDonnell, director of the Center for Accessibility Resources, and Meg Carroll, Ed.D., who always pushed Sarah to do her best.
Mike, while not an SXU graduate, is the SXU baseball team's pitching coach. He has a bachelor's degree in physical education and a master's degree in education. He has served as a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teacher for eight years and a baseball coach for four years at Brooks Academy and three years at Brother Rice High School. Like Sarah, Mike was inspired by his dad's work teaching and coaching and wanted to do the same.
Baseball has been a passion of Mike's for as long as he can remember, passed down from his SXU hall-of-famer father. He finds that the challenge of coaching at the college level has been a great joy for him.
Mike enjoyed attending many events at SXU, including Homecoming, his father's SXU Athletics Hall of Fame induction, and the dedication of the Shannon Athletic and Convocation Center. He has always envisioned himself at SXU and takes inspiration from the SXU baseball coaches before him who have made a positive impact on the lives of young student-athletes.
Each member of the Panozzo family is grateful for the experiences they've had at SXU and appreciate that they gained a foundation that will help them better their careers and improve their communities, just from being surrounded by the SXU community.
"Sister Denis was a wonderful advisor and professor and was a tremendous help to me and most student-athletes in balancing athletics and academics. I also found help on focusing on my career after SXU with Dr. Peters, gained good study and research habits from Dr. Kirstein, cherished the kindness from Sister Marion, and was inspired by Coaches Hallberg and Boles," said Jim. "I learned about the mission as a freshman, when our baseball coach, John Boles, suggested we become blood donors. This stared a lifetime of giving back. I’m a proud alum and happy to say I’ve been part of the long tradition of excellence and service."
"Volunteering as a Bonner Scholar taught me how important it is to be part of a community that works together. By working with others to do service, I learned the importance of giving back, and I want to continue to do service for my community and value the Mercy mission," said Sarah.
"At the start of each season, we have a baseball program that centers around the Saint Xavier mission. Through those meetings and in my own reflections, I realize that my upbringing in a household of Catholic values and my career as an elementary school teacher have led me toward a life that is exactly in line with SXU's mission statement. The reason I coach is to serve our players," said Mike.
In the future, Jim will continue his fundraising efforts and volunteer in hospice settings and children's cancer centers, as well as expand eucharistic minister services to the homebound in his parish. Sarah plans to do charitable work for her community and help in a variety of service projects, including those with her parents' foundation. Mike hopes he makes a lasting impact on the student-athletes and this his contributions will be looked back on in the future. He is working to set the baseball team up for new heights and future successes.