ONLINE EXTRA: What Are Our Alumni Up To?

Mount News: alumni magazine



Beth Pluckebaum Siemer ’90 was inspired to become a teacher for as long as she can remember, specifically from her own first grade teacher, who showed her the love of learning and students that accompanies this profession. Siemer remembers seeing teaching as an opportunity to shape the future by showing students how to be compassionate members of the community .

With such a passion for her work, it comes as no surprise that 24 years from beginning her career, Siemer is one of 12 teachers from a pool of 100,000 across the country to be honored with the Distinguished Teacher Award from the National Catholic Education Association.

Siemer chose to attend the Mount after being called multiple times and encouraged to apply. Upon her acceptance, she was the recipient of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Scholarship, which made it more affordable to attend her school of choice.

“I was taught about diversifying a classroom before inclusion was a topic,” Seimer says about the valuable lessons she learned at the Mount. “I was taught how to modify my curriculum for all learners and how to work with children with different learning styles.” During her time at the Mount, she was a member of the student council for exceptional children (SCEC) and worked at  the reading lab. This gave her the opportunity to work with children with a myriad of different learning styles.

Some of Siemer’s most memorable experiences at the Mount include Dr. Spark’s classes. “He taught me and challenged me like no other teacher. He taught me about children who need to be taught in a different way and to think outside the box to create a classroom that serves all needs,” she says.

After graduation, Siemer began her career as a fourth grade teacher at St. Ignatius, believing that her degree from the Mount had a great deal to do with her hiring. She is still in the same position and loves every moment of it. Siemer continues her education. She earned her National Boards Certification in 2010 and her Master Teacher Certification for the Archdiocese in 2012. In addition to her most recent award, Seimer was also named one of Cincinnati’s Top 25 Teachers in 2011 by Cincy Magazine. 



Claire Caruso ’69 (center in photo) was recently inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, one of the highest honors a nurse can receive. She knew that her career path would be in nursing from the time she was in high school, because she always loved science and helping people, and was interested in the study of health and disease. It also didn’t hurt that her mother was a nurse, and that she volunteered as a candy-striper.

Caruso chose the Mount because of its excellent reputation, especially in the nursing field. While teaching the skills necessary to become a successful nurse, the Mount also instilled in her the value of public service, a lesson which she believes has stuck with her throughout her career.

After completing her degree at the Mount, Caruso worked in a number of hospital settings in Boston and Cincinnati. She eventually completed her master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati. While working as a clinical nurse specialist, she was awarded a National Institutes of Health grant to study the use of cooling blankets on patients, developing her love for the research side of nursing. This prompted her to enroll at the University of Michigan to earn her Doctor of Philosophy degree in nursing. Her program of study focused on the health and safety risks linked to shift work and long work hours and sleep, as well as circadian rhythm research that provides evidence for this topic. 

After graduation from the University of Michigan in 1999, Caruso began her government scientist position at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Here she focuses on shift work and long work hour issues. She is developing and testing Internet-based training programs tailored to workers and managers in several types of jobs. These translate scientific information so workers understand how to modify their personal lives and managers understand how to better organize the work and work schedules so that workers can get enough sleep. “Most people have trouble working nights and irregular hours because we are not nocturnal animals by nature,” says Caruso. “I have personally worked at night and on rotating shifts and have an appreciation for the challenges and dangers people face. Night shift workers are at risk for vehicle crashes which endanger themselves as well as other people on the roads.”

True to her work to improve public health and spread the knowledge about the necessity of sleep for life and health, Caruso is bringing her expertise in work schedule issues to the American Academy of Nursing. She is working with the Academy to promote better workplace strategies that protect people who work around the clock providing critical services for society in the public safety, healthcare, utilities, transportation and manufacturing industries.  Caruso is co-chair of a Nurse Fatigue Professional Issues Panel for the American Nurses Association and gives her insights on schedules and sleep deprivation.

Caruso resides in the Cincinnati area and enjoys visiting her relatives and friends, reading, gardening, and hiking. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Caruso says that she balances work and personal life and makes sure she gets a good night’s sleep. She says “evidence is mounting that getting enough sleep is as important for our health and well being as a good diet and exercise.”