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Awards & Recognition

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: First Place (Daniel Anthony, Opinion Category); Fifth Place (Brendan Jubulis, Sports)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)
Student Keystone Press Awards Honorable Mention (Website)

Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Alumni Profile: Sara Kallner (’93)


Villa Maria alumni Sara Kallner graduated in 1993, and she is currently the Chairwoman of the Erie Catholic Preparatory School Board of Directors. She is also both an owner of Smith Provision Compay, and its Vice President of Sales. 

To say that she has had professional success would be an understatement, but everyone has to start somewhere. For Sara, that place was Erie, and that is where she is now raising her own family.

“I started out at Saint Peter’s Cathedral Center elementary school when I was in kindergarten, and I was there until second grade,” Kallner said. “My parents then moved my younger sisters and me to Villa Elementary, so I was always a part of the Villa family from third grade to twelfth grade.”

During these formative years of her life, she vividly remembers looking to her father for guidance. He has always been her greatest role model, and he still is to this day. 

“He is the hardest working, kindest, and smartest person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Kallner said. “He taught me a great many things, but most importantly, he taught me that there are no substitutes for hard work or integrity.” 

After her graduation from Villa Elementary, Kallner and her parents chose for her to attend Villa because of her family’s belief in Catholic education. Both of her parents attended public schools, and it was important to them that all of their children had the opportunity to attend a Catholic school. 

During her time at Villa, she was not only a very active athlete, but she also participated in clubs. 

“I played soccer and ran track for four years, I was a part of Pep Club, and I helped with the yearbook,” Kallner said. “I also wrote for the school newspaper during my junior and senior year. During that time, it was a big deal to have a printed publication. We put it out about once a quarter. I made a lot of wonderful memories during my high school years, and Mary’s Day and Sports Day were also special Villa events each year.” 

She even got the chance to play in the District 10 soccer championship during her junior year, and winning that championship was a thrilling moment for her and her teammates. She and her track team relay teammates, Kim Overton, Kathy Evans, and Erica Moffett, also set the school record for track in the 4 x 100 relay event in 1992, which was another memorable Villa experience.. 

This camaraderie and feeling of community that she found with sports and friends was her favorite aspect of her time at Villa. As well as just sisterhood, she found a sense of family with the boys at Villa as well. 

“When I was at Villa, it was co-ed,” Kallner said. “I think that is an important distinction, and I think it is really relevant to the transition that is occurring now. The fact that we were a co-ed school for a period of time did not affect the spirit of community that we had at our school.”

Now that she has grown up and formed her own life, her appreciation of the education that she received at Villa has definitely grown. 

“Looking back and considering all of the things that I didn’t necessarily appreciate at the time as much as I do now as an adult just comes naturally for most people with maturity,” she said. “There is a significant amount of personal growth and change that occurs during four years of high school. The things that I hope my daughters focus on in high school are definitely different than what I focused on during my time as a student.”

After her graduation from Villa, Kallner went on to attend Allegheny College for an English degree. Her time at Villa helped her prepare for college, as well as life in general, in multiple different ways, but most importantly in the way that she had a jumping point to kickstart her future. There were so many things that she still needed to experience after high school to continue her evolution as a person, but Villa helped her to develop critical thinking skills, independence , and safety in a community of friends. She always knew that they would be there for her, and this tight-knit feeling of Villa is what drew her to Allegheny in the first place. 

“Allegheny is a great school, and I was not attracted to a large school,” Kallner said. “I wanted something a little bit smaller that felt similar in size to Villa. Allegheny gave me a great tour, and I knew I would have the opportunity to play soccer there as well. There were a handful of Villa graduates that attended Allegheny with me as well, so it felt a little bit like home.”

Kallner started off at Allegheny undecided, but she ended up choosing English as her major because of some great advice she got from her advisor. 

“Irwin Gertzog was a professor of political science, and he was a truly wonderful person,” Kallner said. “He told me to study things that interested me. That advice naturally led me to choose English. I have always enjoyed literature, I was an avid reader from a very young age, and so it made perfect sense.” 

She also had wonderful teachers at Villa who helped her develop her love of Literature and English, and they also helped her to realize what kind of career she was meant for. These teachers include Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Constantine, and Mrs. Lynch. She was able to take a life skills class with Mrs. Lynch, and this class helped her realize how much she valued her independence. 

“There was a little bit of cooking, there was some hemming, and there was an auto-mechanic element as well,” Kallner said. “You had to know how to change your tire, check your oil, and things similar to that. It made me realize that I wanted to make sure that there was nothing that I couldn’t do for myself. Looking back, I was confident in my ability to rely on myself, and Villa taught me that.”

Because of these classes, and the incredible teachers who taught them, she was well-prepared for the rigorous education she received at Allegheny. 

After her graduation from Allegheny, she went down a long and winding path to get to where she is today. Her family business is Smith Provision Company, so she grew up in the meat processing world. Her work now, however, is just as much about sales and customer service as it is manufacturing.

She started working at Smith’s when she was 14, and she learned to package and produce products. She always enjoyed this part of the business, and her customer service skills started to take shape at this age. 

Much later during her time at Allegheny, she interned in the college finance office. She also worked as a server at a restaurant in Meadville and at a private club in Conneaut Lake. These college jobs helped her to earn money and allowed her to learn even more about people, human behavior, and customer service. 

As she was preparing to graduate from Allegheny, she did not know where exactly she was headed. She decided to apply for a job as a financial advisor at the Prudential Securities branch in Erie, and she was hired on the spot. 

“I was thrilled to get my first real job, and I proceeded to dive into the world of finance and investments,” Kallner said. 

She was employed at Prudential for several years, and then transferred to a local boutique investment firm called HBK Sorce Financial. She had an incredible mentor at HBK who schooled her in the art of money management, and after a few years with HBK, she made the decision to transition formally to her family business. As previously mentioned, Kallner is now an owner and Vice President of Sales at Smith’s. This job is incredibly well-suited to the strengths that she gained over the years. 

As Kallner moved through these positions and worked her way through her different areas of employment, she learned many lessons, but three specific ones stick out in her mind. 

“These lessons were true 30 years ago, some I had to learn the hard way, and they are definitely still true to me now,” Kallner said. “The first is that there is no time like the present to do what needs to be done. The second is that procrastination is the enemy of progress and delaying the inevitable does not change the outcome. All it does is make you miserable while you procrastinate. The third and final lesson is that it is important to recognize that making mistakes is ok. The important part is taking responsibility, moving forward, and course correcting. That is the real measure of character.” 

Although Kallner takes her work very seriously, her time since college has still been very enjoyable for her. She has sports, good friends, and she later started her own family. 

“I met my husband at Allegheny, and we got married quickly after college,” Kallner said. “A handful of years later we started our family. We have three daughters, we have pets, and we are always on the go.”

Even though she has experienced success, that does not mean the road has always been smooth. She was honored to be asked by a former ECPS board member to consider joining the ECPS board, but she had to give it some thought before she decided what to do. 

“I am pretty busy with my own work and young kids,” Kallner said. “But this experience as Chairwoman has been a real privilege. I think we are very fortunate that we have so many devoted and talented women and men who serve as board members. I am so proud of our school and the future plans for our schools. It has been a real gift to get to know the administration of the schools, and the faculty members especially. They selflessly devote themselves to our students, and I am very lucky to have gotten to know them over the last couple of years.”

Like Kallner said, her experience as Chairwoman has been an amazing experience for her, but nothing can compare to how proud she is of her three daughters. 

“Without a doubt, my three proudest accomplishments are my daughters,” she said. “They take the cake. I enjoy my career, and I enjoy my board service, but my family is always my number one priority.”

She truly values the young people in her life, and if she could say one thing to any young person who would be reading this article, she would tell them that kindness is always the most important thing. 

“I would say this to men and women alike,” Kallner said. “We are living in a time when there are literally endless opportunities in life. Take advantage of that. There is no substitution for hard work, and it costs absolutely nothing to show kindness to others.”

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About the Contributor
Olivia Buckel
Olivia Buckel, Senior Editor-in-Chief
Olivia is the senior editor-in-chief of The Rambler. She was the junior editor of The Rambler during the 2021-2022 school year, and has written over twenty articles. She enjoys going to the movies, reading, and skiing in her free time, and hopes to pursue English at a four-year university.
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