Give Marquette

Marquette University Alumni Association

College of Education Award Recipients

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Achievement Award

Dr. Bonnie J. Behee-SemlerDR. BONNIE J. BEHEE-SEMLER, GRAD '90, '96
River Hills, Wis.

For Bonnie, living the Marquette mission boils down to this simple but powerful goal: “Treat every person with respect, compassion and dignity.”

And throughout her career, she has strived to do just that. A former nurse, Bonnie is now a psychologist who specializes in psychological diagnostic assessments, particularly for children on the autism spectrum.

“My joy comes from supporting and empowering parents who have children with disabilities,” she says. “Parents are empowered by knowledge of their child, the system and their rights. This knowledge provides them with practical tools for improving their lives and the lives of their children.”

After starting her career as a registered nurse and pediatric nurse practitioner, Bonnie decided to return to school for her master’s degree in educational psychology and then her doctoral degree in counseling psychology.

“The common thread throughout my nursing career was parent education and counseling in outpatient clinics and neonatal intensive care units,” she says. “It was the desire to continue graduate education in parenting education that led me to Dr. Robert Fox, who thankfully became my adviser at Marquette.”

Bonnie has also been an active community leader over the years, serving as founding president of the Wisconsin Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners and Associates; president of the Wisconsin Association for Perinatal Care and chair of its Infant/Family Committee; as a facilitator of the March Of Dimes Support Group for Parents; and as a member of the Wisconsin Division of Health and Department of Public Instruction work groups on Maternal and Child Health Block Grants and the Birth to Three Program.

And she has no plans to slow down. “Although I am of retirement age, I can’t imagine leaving my profession yet,” she says. “It is my identity!”

Hometown: Chicago
Favorite quote: Her Bible verse from confirmation: “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Dream dinner guest: “I won’t admit to it ... but anyone who knows me know who it is.”
Marquette faculty member who had an impact: Her adviser, Dr. Robert Fox. She was inspired by “his passion for parent education and research.”
Favorite Marquette memories: “The camaraderie of studying for ‘comps’ at the home of peers.”
Career she aspired to in grade school: “From age 9, I said I wanted to be a nurse after I helped take care of my sick father.”
Not-so-secret talent: She’s passionate about the Scottish arts and has performed across Milwaukee, Canada and Scotland as a former member of the Caledonian Scottish Dancers, a highland dance group. Her daughter, Catherine, was also a highland dancer, and her son, Bob, and grandson, Adam, are drummers in a Scottish bagpipe band.
Most influential person: “My husband, David, has taught me to enjoy life, good food, good literature and nature. He has taught me to laugh. His thirst for knowledge has exposed me to a variety of entertaining and educational experiences."