St. Cecilia Academy News
SCA 2019 Outstanding Alumnae of the Year: Mamie Coode McKenzie '68
The fourth child and the second girl out of nine children, Mamie Coode McKenzie grew up going to Cathedral. When it came time for high school, St. Cecilia seemed like a natural choice, especially since all her friends were going here. After graduating with a B.S. in Special Education from Vanderbilt's Peabody College, she married Jack McKenzie and together they had four sons. One of their sons, Michael, was born with severe mental health challenges, and it was through this experience that Mamie was inspired to devote her life's work to accompanying those with mental illness and their families. After working for 10 years with young children at Westminster Presbyterian Church, she returned to Tennessee State University and graduated in 2015 with a masters' degree in Early Childhood Special Education. Over the years, Mamie has spent countless volunteer hours working at Tennessee Voices for Children (TVS), a group dedicated to providing mental health support, education, and advocacy for families with children with serious behavioral and emotional challenges. Mamie and her husband both felt called to help other families navigate the same paths they had journeyed with their son, especially when, in 2004, Michael passed away. After that time Mamie became even more convinced of the importance of sharing her story and got involved in leading training seminars for mental health professionals and working to educate families, as well as advocating for mental health legislative policy changes. In 2016 Mamie and her husband, Jack, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tennessee Voices for Children inaugural gala. Mamie has since retired from the TVC but continues to educate and touch the lives of all those around her. Her legacy of supporting the mental health communities in Nashville is vast and St. Cecilia is pleased to acknowledge her hard work and dedication. We are also delighted to note that Mamie is receiving the same award that her mother, Mildred Coode, did as Alumna of the Year in 2011.
SCA 2019 Outstanding Young Alumna of the Year Aimee Shelide Mayer '02
Aimee Shelide was the 2002 St. Cecilia Salutatorian. She took her love of French, inspired by Madame Begley, to the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in French and Sociology. She stayed at Notre Dame to pursue a master's in theology through Notre Dame's Echo program, a degree program that prepares graduates for service to the Church in parishes and schools. During that time Aimee felt a call to put her passion for Catholic social teachings into action through a life of greater service, and in 2008 she began to work at South Bend's Catholic Worker House, part of a nationwide initiative founded by Dorothy Day. For the next four years she lived a simple communal life in the Catholic Worker home, working daily with women who were homeless and needed a safe place to sleep, bathe, and do their laundry. It was during this experience that she met her husband, Collen, who worked with the men at the Catholic Worker House. After they were married at the Camp Marymount chapel, Aimee worked from 2010 to 2016 as the Assistant Director for the Notre Dame Echo program, organizing summer conferences for high school students called ND Vision. In 2014 Aimee and Collen moved back to Nashville to be closer to family, and since 2016 she has worked as Coordinator for Advocacy and Social Concerns for Catholic Charities of Nashville.
Aimee Shelide Mayer says that, thanks to her experience at St. Cecilia, she has always desired to be rooted in a strong, supportive community in which she can share her gifts and give back to the broader community. She attributes SCA with giving her the confidence to deal with the sometimes tough decisions that she faced in college and beyond when it came to integrating her career and her faith. Thanks to the influence of her family and the Dominican Sisters who taught her both at St. Henry and at St. Cecilia, she said the seeds of faith that were planted within her at an early age continued to be strengthened and nurtured through high school. Even when she has faced difficult decisions in her life, she says she can count on her faith as a guiding light. Aimee still wears with pride her beloved St. Cecilia class ring and is grateful to her SCA classmates whom she considers her closest friends and an invaluable support in her life.