October 28, 2016

Alumna Mary Ann Wyrsch takes her talents on a global scale

Working as senior commissioner for multiple committees and departments in the UN and the U.S. government, Webster University alumna Mary Ann Wyrsch contributed her service and had a worldwide impact. She was honored with the Loretto Award in Homecoming this year.

The Loretto Award was created with the intention to continue recognition of the community service and social justice values of the Sisters of Loretto, who founded Loretto College in 1915, which is now Webster University.

Wyrsch, BA ’65, has been exposed to the Sisters of Loretto since she was very young. Her cousins, four sisters, mother and two aunts all graduated from Loretto Academy.

Wyrsch first learned about the Sisters of Loretto when she was seven years old. Her mother sent her to Loretto Academy in Kansas City, Missouri for high school. She then studied at Webster.

“It is sort of in my DNA, and I am eternally grateful for that,” Wyrsch said.

When selecting candidates for the award, Alumni Association looks for alumni that have made a greater impact beyond the local community.

“In her case, things she has done has had a worldwide impact on her level of service,” Alumni Association President Roslyn Grant said.

Wyrsch had an academic record and career that met the requirements for the award. She has a master’s degree in history from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Wyrsch is a former President and Executive Director of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and a former United Nations Deputy Commissioner for Refugees.

Wyrsch also worked in a variety of senior executive positions in the U.S. government for more than two decades.

It was the academic foundation and the world view Webster gave Wyrsch that allowed her to pursue her career. Her connections have led her to where she is.

“You should work very well at what you are doing now and keep your eye on the future. But you will never know,” Wyrsch said. “Most of my opportunities came from somebody recommended me to the next person. You have an opportunity and you take it.”

Elizabeth Robb, former member of the board of trustees, has been a good friend of Wyrsch since their freshman year at Webster in 1961. They continue to be close friends, although they have never lived in the same city since college.

“At school, she (Wyrsch) was studious and did well,” Robb said. “She was student government president and highly regarded. She is very systematic in whatever she does. She has a tremendous loyalty for friends and family.”

Wyrsch came from the College of Arts and Sciences. She majored in history and was on the advisory board for a while.

“(Studying at Webster) was an enjoyable time,” Wyrsch said. “All in all, it was an awesome experience for me.”

Wyrsch suggested to current students to “live in the moment.”

“Take advantage of all the opportunities that you have, and make the best you can,” Wyrsch said.

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