2004 Viterbo University Outstanding Alumni Awards

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Community Service
Mary Wetterling '90
M.A. Education

Community Service
Rose Robacker '53
B.S. Chemistry

Young Alumni
Shane Peper '98
B.S. Chemistry/Biology

One word may best describe retired teacher Mary Ann Wetterling when it comes to serving her community—involved.

Wetterling’s impressive list of community service activities includes serving as secretary for the WAFER emergency food pantry where she was instrumental in organizing and implementing a campaign to raise funds for a new building. She was a Relay for Life organizer and committee member, and a Children’s Miracle Network Radiothon Volunteer.

She also is a charter member of the international educational sorority Delta Kappa Gamma, a volunteer for the rotary lights project, a Gardenfest volunteer, has served two terms on the Viterbo Alumni Association Board, and is currently serving as a member of the Alumni Emeritus Board.

Wetterling earned her master’s degree in education from Viterbo. She has taught at St. Patrick’s elementary, Hamilton elementary, and Summit school before retiring in 1998. She was named the La Crosse School District teacher of the year in 1984 and was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 1994.

She is also an FSPA prayer partner and an active member of Roncalli Newman Parish in La Crosse.


After 47 years, Rose Robacker couldn’t just stop teaching when she retired in 1992.

Robacker, a resident of Newfoundland, Penn., put her energy and passion for teaching into volunteering as a tutor for a Pennsylvania adult literacy program. Most of her time is spent working with local prisoners, giving them hope for a better future.

She was a member of the FSPA in La Crosse for 25 years and has earned three master’s degrees during her extensive education. She has worked as a teacher and counselor on the tough streets of Newark and as the dean of the prestigious Oberlin College in Pennsylvania.

Robacker has logged thousands upon thousands of hours volunteering and was honored as the Wayne-Pike Adult Literacy Program’s Volunteer of the Year. She has published two books on chemistry, has lectured nationally and internationally, and has been the guest speaker at several science and chemistry events.

She also is involved with the Association of Retired Teachers, the American Association of University Women Chairs, the auditing committee of the Federal Credit Union, the president of the Wayne County Literacy Program, and is a member of the Wayne County Library Board. She has also served as Lector and Eucharistic Minister at St. Rita’s Parish.

Shane Peper has been busy making his mark in the international science community since graduating from Viterbo with degrees in chemistry and biology. He seems to be just getting started.

Originally from Onalaska, Peper earned his Ph.D. from Auburn University in 2003 and received a post doctorate fellowship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he performs research in the chemistry division while enjoying the increased compensation and project freedom afforded by a fellowship.

Peper’s list of numerous prestigious awards and achievements began in 1998, when he received the local section of the American Chemical Society’s Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement. In 2001, he earned the highly selective (one of ten) University College of Sciences and Mathematics Dean’s Research Award, allowing him to conduct independent research projects in Switzerland and California.

He was one of only four graduate students in the nation to receive the American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry Graduate Research Fellowship in 2002. Peper’s research was compared with graduate students for the top research universities in the country such as the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, and MIT during the competition. The fellowship included a large monetary award for independent research of Peper’s choosing and design, a dream award for most scientists. His other awards include two Auburn Travel Grants, a Colin Garfield Fink Summer Graduate Research Fellowship, and an Auburn Research Grant. Peper has also been published in 17 scientific publications and has been granted two patents.