SEPTEMBER Alumni Spotlight: Lisa Colangelo Fischer, Ph.D., Xavier College Preparatory, 1988

Background: “I am a third generation native of Arizona and share a “birthday” with the Diocese of Phoenix (December 2, 1969). I was born with profound sensorineural hearing loss and wore my first hearing aids as a 5-month old infant. I began speech therapy lessons a month later which continued for the next 14 years. I wanted to attend Catholic schools in Phoenix, but none at the time was willing to accommodate me because of my disability.  I insisted on attending Xavier despite skepticism from my public school special education teacher. I participated in Xavier’s golf and track teams and served on the student council. I received an excellent education at Xavier and went on to college after graduation. I have been married to Ed Fischer for 25 years next month and have two children, Grae age 17 who is a senior at Xavier and Michael age 15 who is a sophomore at Brophy. My hobbies include archery and bowhunting for turkey. I recently reinstated the archery team at Brophy where I act as head coach and also coach Xavier’s archery team.”

What impact did Catholic schools have on you?  “While a student at Xavier, teachers had expectations of me like any regular student. I was expected to excel with my classmates, using the same GPA system, same classroom instruction, same activities, etc. No special accommodations were made for me. I did not want to be treated differently and I wasn’t. I was integrated as part of Xavier and its student body. Xavier creates women leaders who give back to our community using our God-given gifts. This had a lasting impact on me to be a productive member of today’s society, using my talents. My experience at Xavier was a very positive one which motivated me to want other students with similar disabilities to also experience being a student at Xavier and receive its excellent education in faith. This led me to establish the Arizona Catholic Schools Disabilities Fund. The mission of this fund is to enable schools to embrace students with exceptional needs by providing the funding, means, and training for teachers.”

Accomplishments: “After graduating from Xavier, I went on to the University of Arizona and majored in Psychology with a minor in Special Education and Rehabilitation.  I then earned a master’s degree in Counseling and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, both from Arizona State University. I completed a predoctoral internship at Northwestern University and a postdoc with Maricopa Medical Center. My master’s thesis was published in a popular psychological research journal and continues to be cited 20 years later in multiple languages. I became licensed to practice as a psychologist and later became board certified in clinical psychology, becoming one of the handful of psychologists in this state with this certification. I currently have a private clinical psychotherapy practice where all patients are of “normal” hearing.   I founded the Arizona Catholic Schools Disabilities Fund in 2014 and serve on two appointed Diocesan boards as a psychological consultant in addition to being president-elect of the Arizona Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology.”

Future plans: “I am working on establishing a professional alliance of psychoanalysts in the U.S. with psychoanalysts in Russia. I want to spend more time in the White Mountains, write a book, and achieve the Royal Slam in turkey bowhunting!”