Where Are They Now?

Charleigh Reinardy - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

OSHKOSH, WI - Juraj Plaza, international student from Slovakia, joined the Lourdes Academy family during the 2016-2017 school year and has had much success since returning home.

Plaza shared he had always dreamed of spending at least one year of his time in high school studying abroad and when the opportunity occured, Plaza couldn’t resist taking the opportunity. Plaza applied to two different exchange programs and was accepted into the Global Outreach program where he was later able to study at Lourdes his junior year.

Plaza stayed with the Kaufmann family while he attended Lourdes. Plaza said he enjoyed his time running for the cross country team, participating in International Club, musical, pep band, and marching band. Some of Plaza’s favorite classes were Michelle Sorenson’s band class, Jennifer Pollack’s Journalism class, and Jake Jacob’s U.S. History class.

“I enjoyed every minute at Lourdes,” Plaza said. “I got to know so many amazing people who I can proudly call my friends.”

While Plaza was visiting the U.S., he was able to visit New York, Chicago, and Washington D.C. where he participated in the March for Life.

Plaza hasn’t been able to visit since his trip in 2017, so he shared some of his favorite parts of the U.S. “My favorite thing was exploring the American culture, experiencing the patriotism, and learning that over all we are not that different from each other,” Plaza said. “I probably miss all the friends I made and the feeling of freedom that living in the U.S. brings. I miss the teachers, band classes, the people, and the spirit of the school.”

Plaza loved his time in America but said he missed being a big brother to his three younger siblings, his 15-year-old and three-year-old sisters, and his five-year-old brother.

After Plaza returned to Slovakia, he began to participate in activities at home again such as floorball, tennis, cave climbing, and student city council of Ružomberok, Plaza’s home town.

Plaza shared that he also worked at a high ropes course and as a tour guide at a medieval castle, Likava Castle, which he said was the coolest job he has ever had. “I could even access the parts of the castle where tourists were prohibited. The best part started in the evening when I was the last one to leave. Before I left, I had to lock all the doors and check the whole castle,” Plaza said.

Plaza was fortunate to test out of retaking his junior year in Slovakia after he returned home. He also had to pass another test his senior year to graduate from high school.

Every student in Slovakia has to take a school exit exam at the end of his or her senior year. The test consists of four subjects: Slovak language and literature, foreign language, and the other two are up to the student to pick (biology, physics, history, etc.) Once Plaza passed, he was able to graduate.

Plaza is currently studying law at Comenius University in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

Where are they now?

Eric Rudd

By Charleigh Reinardy - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

OSHKOSH, WI - 2011 Lourdes graduate Eric Rudd has returned to Oshkosh to work as the High School Faith Formation Coordinator and Young Adult Minister at the local parish St. Raphael’s Church.

Rudd said he is a part of a large family; his younger sister Molly Rudd, graduated from Lourdes in 2015, and he has three older siblings, Jacob, David, and Julia. While Rudd attended Lourdes High School, he ran four years on both the cross country and the track teams. Rudd also played on the basketball team for two years, he said. Rudd said he attended the March for Life twice while at Lourdes. Rudd was also confirmed through Lourdes but said he took his faith in high school for granted.

After graduating from Lourdes, Rudd said he planned to run track for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, but when knee problems restricted his running, Rudd said he decided to attend his home town college the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. At UWO, Rudd studied business economics.

When Rudd first graduated, he said that he left some of his faith behind and struggled in his faith life the first year of college. Rudd shared that he was able to make his second year of college better by rediscovering his faith life by getting involved in campus ministry.

“I had the foundation; but I got into the world and left that (faith) behind. I realized I needed that faith to make good decisions and to know what I was going to do with my life.”

Rudd took a year off to join the Spiritus team traveling around the state for a year of ministry. Rudd said that during this time,he grew so much in his faith, Rudd was giving talks, and others were wondering if he was being called to the priesthood. After encouragement from 20___ Lourdes alumnus, Fr. Dan Schuster, Rudd joined the seminary with the Diocese of Green Bay. Rudd attended Conception College in Missouri, near Kansas City, for three years until his graduation in 2017.

Rudd has been playing guitar since he was in sixth grade, and he said that singing was never really his thing in high school, but at UWO he began to perform at open mic nights. After receiving positive feedback, he became more confident in his singing.

“I have been able to help lead others to Christ using my talents. At first, I used to just play and sing non-religious songs, just stuff for me, and to impress other people. Then I realized I have this gift that could actually lead people closer to God.”

After three years, Rudd discerned from the seminary and returned to Oshkosh. Fr. Matt Rappl, from St. Raphael’s, invited Rudd to donate his time to last year’s confirmation class. Rudd said that he loved the time spent volunteering at St. Raphael’s Church, but there were no job openings at that time.

Throughout the year, Rudd worked in sales until he heard of a the High School Faith Formation Coordinator and Young Adult Minister position at St. Raphael’s, and he felt called because of his religious background.

Rudd shared that he loves all the different parts of his job because he is able to work with young adult ministry, youth ministry, and the high schoolers.

Where are they now?

Břeťa Dančák

Charleigh Reinardy - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

OSHKOSH, WI - Břeťa Dančák, foreign exchange student from the Czech Republic, spent a year at Lourdes during the 2016-2017 school year.

Dančák attended Lourdes from the Czech Republic, putting his junior year of school in the Czech Republic on hold to be a junior overseas. Dančák left behind parents along with two younger sisters who are now 13 and nine. Dančák shared that he heard about the exchange program, Global Outreach, through friends and school meetings.

“It had always been my dream to go to the U.S. during high school. I wasn’t really scared or nervous until I had to say goodbye to my family at the airport. ”

“I was so happy about going to America. I was really looking forward to it because I was going there with other kids from my exchange program,” Dančák said.

Dančák shared that his first two weeks in America were the hardest. Luckily, Dančák was able to find his place and make new friends through the support of the Lourdes football team.

Even though Dančák had luck with making new friends at Lourdes, Dančák said that he missed the food, his friends, and most of all his family.

“You never know how important your family is until you are thousands of miles away from them,” Dančák said. “That was the time I really started to feel how God is important in my life because he was all I had.”

While Dančák was in the U.S., he stayed with the Vajgrt family. Dančák had one younger host brother, Jimmy, who is now an eighth grader at Lourdes. Dančák shared that Jimmy was like a real little brother to him and is a really good kid; he said he misses him a lot.

Dančák said that while he was at Lourdes he was a member of the football team, track team, and even the basketball team for just a few weeks.

I really liked track because the people were very friendly, and I would say they were my real friends,” Dančák said. “I also loved football and still follow it at home in the Czech Republic.”

During Dančák’s year in the U.S., he was also able to attend the March for Life in Washington D.C. with a few other students, and he also had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco.

Dančák said he was able to fall in love with his Lourdes family quickly. “I love Lourdes,” Dančák said. “I like how it is a small school so you get to know basically everyone. The community is very open, nice, and supportive.”

Dančák’s said he also had many inspiring teachers. Dančák shared that he loved Dr. J.’s classes along with Mrs. Carter’s business class. Dančák also shared the influence religion teacher Rick Duncan had on him.

“He really is a role model for me, and I fully respect him as a teacher,” Dančák said. “He taught me so much about life, and his story had a really big impact on my view of life.”

Dančák shared that he is currently attending Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic where he is majoring in computer science and IT and that he hopes to come back to America to visit next year.