Mary Narges was selected as the posthumous recipient of the UW-Fond du Lac 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award. This award honors and recognizes UW-Fond du Lac alumni who have attained notable achievement in their career field, demonstrated philanthropic or public service activity in support of the community or provided inspiration to others.
Narge spent her life serving and advocating for individuals with special needs. She attended UW-Fond du Lac from 1980 to 1984 as a non‑traditional student. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Social Work at Marian University in 1985 and earned her master’s degree in Social Welfare in 1999 from UW Milwaukee.
Her work in the community was inspiring and enduring. In 1987 she co‑founded Free S.P.I.R.I.T. Riders, a therapeutic horsemanship program for differently abled children and adults. She was involved in the founding of Compassionate Friends and worked with the Fond du Lac American Diabetes Association and Lakeshore Elementary School. Narges worked for the Fond du Lac County Department of Social Services in child protection, working primarily with children with developmental disabilities. She was a school counselor at Catholic Charities, provided psychotherapy services to individuals and families, and taught introductory Social Work classes at UW Oshkosh. She has forever impacted numerous lives throughout the Fond du Lac community.
Her family accepted the award on her behalf at the UW-Fond du Lac Foundation’s annual donor and scholarship reception on September 27. Her children, Gina Marchionda-Schneider and Rocco Marchionda, shared memories of thier mother's years at UW-Fond du Lac while they were children and often accompanied her to classes.
This is the 14th year the university has presented this award. Past recipients include Brenna Garrison-Bruden (2004); Don Noe (2005); Paul Rosenfeldt (2006); Robert (Bob) Carew (2007); Oscar Kraus (2008); Sandi Roehrig (2009); Mark Strand (2010); Kim Mooney (2011); William (Bill) Lamb (2012); Scott Wittchow (2013); Paul Thelen (2014); Michael A. Casper (2015); Jim Neumann (2016).