This article can be found in the Alumni Magazine.

October 20, 2023

Story by Reggie Hayes | Photography by Jeffrey Crane (BA ’97)

As they grew up, the three sisters acquired a nickname—The Dice Girls, a play on their last name of Dice, with a nod to the 1990s pop music group, the Spice Girls. The Dice Girls were intelligent, driven and athletic, and found their career passions at the University of Saint Francis.

Heather (Dice) Lortie (AS ’07, MHA ’19) now leads the Saint Francis radiologic technology program. Her twin sister Tara (Dice) Pettigrew (BSN ’08) works as a nurse at Parkview Southwest Surgery Center. Their younger sister Amanda (Dice) Schultz (BSE ’10) teaches first grade at St. Joseph Catholic School in Decatur.

FINDING A HOME AT USF

“At first, I wanted to go to Purdue, but I had dated my husband Todd all through high school so I wanted to get an associate degree and get married. I loved the small classes at Saint Francis, living at home and being a commuter. With the rad tech program, I felt a real sense of belonging.” – Heather

“I had no desire to go far away. I had an option to go and play basketball at IPFW, a small NCAA Division I school, but they planned to redshirt me as a freshman. I liked the smallness of the classes at Saint Francis and studying nursing with the same group for four years. I think it was easier coming here together (with Heather), but we really didn’t see each other that much.” – Tara

“I came here because it was close to home, and I initially went into nursing. I switched to education because nursing wasn’t for me. I really liked how you could connect with the professors, and right away in your first education class they had you in a school classroom.” – Amanda

SISTER CONNECTIONS ON CAMPUS

“I went to a lot of Tara’s games. You’ve got to be your sister’s biggest cheerleader in life.” – Heather

“Amanda’s (future) husband would scrimmage against us in basketball, although I didn’t really realize it until later when Amanda said he knew me from basketball practice. He didn’t guard me; he’s 6-5 and was guarding the post players. But I remembered the tattoo on his leg.” – Tara

“I felt at home in a small school. I remember going to watch Tara’s games and going to parties with her and, of course, my biggest memory is meeting my husband.” – Amanda

CAREER SATISFACTION

“I started working weekends at DeKalb Memorial Hospital as we were starting our family. I always knew I wanted to come back and teach. I remember telling one of my professors, ‘I want your job.’ I always felt our professors cared and invested in us and that’s something I want to emulate. We care about students’ success.” – Heather

“Being in nursing and basketball was hard—7 a.m. to 7 p.m. clinicals and then practicing from 8 to 10 p.m. I do like being a nurse but there are days when it’s challenging, and it especially was during Covid. I really like outpatient surgery, where I am now.” – Tara

“Teaching is a passion and I love my job. I get to teach and learn new things each day. The most fulfilling thing about my job is when you see the light bulb go off and the student understands the concept.” – Amanda

FAMILY TIME

“I met Todd when I was 15 and we’ve been married almost 18 years. Our daughter, Brynn, is 13 and our triplets—Braylee, Boone and Brystol—are almost 12.” – Heather

“I met my husband Jon not long after I graduated college. We knew each other from 4H. We have a boy, Ty, who is two weeks older than Heather’s triplets, and then we had Kylee and Brooks.” – Tara

“My husband’s name is Brian (BBA ’09), but everyone calls him Cork. He played football at Saint Francis. We have a daughter, Drew, and a son, Beau. We’re all at busy phases in our lives, and we had only two weekends open the whole summer. I love it.” – Amanda